What language is the Hangul script based on?

In order to understand the history and origin of the Hangul script, it is essential to dive into the nuances of the language it is based on. The topic has been a subject of much exploration and curiosity, providing linguists and history buffs with a fascinating glimpse into Korean culture and the development of written communication.

The creation of Hangul

Hangul, the writing system used for the Korean language, was created during the 15th century by Sejong the Great and his scholars. Before its invention, Koreans primarily used Classical Chinese characters to write, which was accessible only to the educated elite. This created a significant barrier for commoners who did not have the opportunity to learn Classical Chinese. Sejong’s primary goal was to develop a simple writing system that would be easy to learn and accessible to everyone, regardless of their education or social standing.

The result of their efforts was Hangul, the script based on the Korean language and designed to represent its distinct phonological structure. Hangul is not based on another language or script, and while it is a featural alphabet developed in response to the limitations and complexities of Classical Chinese, it stands as a unique and original creation.

Structural innovation and design principles

One of the key attributes that set Hangul apart from other writing systems is its structural innovation and design principles. Hangul is often characterized as a featural alphabet, which implies its characters express the sound (phoneme) they represent in a systematic and logical manner. This was devised with the aim to make the script simple and easier to learn compared to the complicated Chinese characters used previously.

Each Hangul character, called a “syllabic block,” is formed by combining an initial consonant (chosong) with a medial vowel (jungseong), and in many cases, a final consonant (jongseong). These components are assembled to create a complete character resembling a square, which stands for a single syllable. For example, the Korean word 한글 (Hangul) consists of two syllabic blocks: 한 (han) and 글 (geul). This unique feature allows for a modular approach when it comes to spelling words, giving the writer more flexibility and precision.

Hangul’s lasting impact

Hangul has had a lasting impact on the Korean language and education system, as well as Korean culture and identity as a whole. Today, Hangul is the standard writing system in both North and South Korea and is recognized for its remarkable design, with experts frequently praising its ingenuity. The writing system has dramatically increased literacy rates in the Korean peninsula, allowing people from different walks of life to communicate effectively and learn about their cultural heritage.

While Hangul is predominantly used for the Korean language, its influence can also be found in other writing systems such as the one used for the Cia-Cia language, which is spoken in Indonesia. This highlights the versatility and adaptability of Hangul’s structure and design principles.

In conclusion, Hangul is a distinct writing system based on the Korean language, created with the intent to increase literacy and bridge linguistic barriers within the Korean society. Its structural innovations and design principles have positioned it as an efficient, intuitive script that continues to leave a lasting impact on the world of written communication.