Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 11th Oct 2013 23:54 UTC
In the News

Happy Hangul Day! October 9th is a South Korean national holiday held in honor of the invention of the Korean writing system, which experts have called the most "scientific" (also "ingenious," "rational," "subtle," "simple," "efficient," "remarkable") writing system ever devised.

It's a bit outside of OSNews' regular stuff (although not unheard of), but as a language specialist myself, Korean, and Hangul in particular, has fascinated me for quite a while now. In contrast to other writing systems, which have developed over centuries - or millennia - without clear guidance, Hangul was more or less designed and set in stone 600 years ago, specifically for the Korean language. It is an absolutely beautiful alphabet, with a clear structure, and a unique way of organising letters - they are grouped in square morpho-syllabic blocks. To the untrained eye, Hangul may resemble e.g. Chinese characters - however, each 'character' actually consists of several letters.

Even though I'm not a programmer myself, Im pretty sure those of you who are will find Hangul fascinating. Due to its structured nature, it's incredibly easy to learn - I taught myself to read and write Hangul in a matter of days - and once you do take a few hours to grasp the basics, you'll surely come to appreciate its innate beauty and structure.

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RE[4]: No.
by jal_ on Mon 14th Oct 2013 11:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: No."
jal_
Member since:
2006-11-02

The only spelling rule of English is that all bets are off.

This is a bit of a hyperbole. English spelling, though worse then some other languages', is fairly consistent.

This happened largely because foreign words were pulled in with no attempt to alter their spellings to conform to the latin alphabet as used by English

No, it's largely because pronunciation has changed while the spelling has been fixed for 500 years.

though some words have also retained old spellings while the alphabet changed around them.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the alphabet changed". The alphabet has stayed pretty much the same since the yogh was abolished, and that was quite a while ago. What has changed is pronunciation.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: No.
by henderson101 on Mon 14th Oct 2013 12:10 in reply to "RE[4]: No."
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

"The only spelling rule of English is that all bets are off.

This is a bit of a hyperbole. English spelling, though worse then some other languages', is fairly consistent.
"

No it's not. It is consistent in it's inconsistencies. ie.

Read - (is that "reed" or "red")? But "bead" is never "bed".

This causes a lot of issues for anyone trying to learn English spelling, not least kids who arenative English speakers.

Many claim that the reason English spelling needs to stay the same is because of the many homonyms, but when you use Latin characters as a kind of pictograph, rather than a spelling, well it makes no real sense any more.

"This happened largely because foreign words were pulled in with no attempt to alter their spellings to conform to the Latin alphabet as used by English

No, it's largely because pronunciation has changed while the spelling has been fixed for 500 years.
"

Or not. Sometimes the English pronunciation is closer to the original. Take "hotel" and "hostel" as prime examples. Or ever "beast", which retains the S that modern French has removed. Sometimes it depends on when English borrowed the word (e.g. Guarantee and Warranty, same word borrowed at different times from different dialects of the same language.)

But I'm sorry, the original poster was correct. Most borrowings from Latin and French have been Anglicised, but retain close to their original spelling, even when it makes little sense. All of the "-tion" and "-sion" ending, as an example, should easily be "-shun" (on "-shiun" or similar, the debate is not what they should be, only that they shouldn't be what they are.)

"though some words have also retained old spellings while the alphabet changed around them.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the alphabet changed". The alphabet has stayed pretty much the same since the yogh was abolished, and that was quite a while ago. What has changed is pronunciation.
"

Wrong (sort of). The alphabet changed around English a few times. Firstly, the transition between Anglo-Saxon and Norman literary traditions had a giant influence on the shape of the spelling. Otherwise, English might look more like Dutch, Frisian or possibly even Gaelic/Welsh in spelling these days. Certainly, the letter K didn't exist, nor did Q, Z or J. And those are fairly well established now.

With the advent of printing, the spelling of English became a lot more defined. But it was not one specific spelling. So we have weird oddities like "one" (wun), "only" ("ohn-ly", aka "one-ly") and a/an (which is another form on "one").

Finally, what the OP and what you say is the same thing. I just don't think you're using the same terms. The way the alphabet is used has "changed", *because* the pronunciation has changed. See, same thing. I think you are equating spoken and written as being the same, and they aren't at all. Written English is barely able to accommodate most spoken English dialects in the UK.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[6]: No.
by jal_ on Mon 14th Oct 2013 12:53 in reply to "RE[5]: No."
jal_ Member since:
2006-11-02

No it's not. It is consistent in it's inconsistencies.

Well, we can debate about what constitutes "fairly consistent". I think we can both agree that it's also riddled with irregularaties. For an alternate take on this, see http://www.zompist.com/spell.html.

Or not. Sometimes the English pronunciation is closer to the original. Take "hotel" and "hostel" as prime examples. Or ever "beast", which retains the S that modern French has removed. Sometimes it depends on when English borrowed the word (e.g. Guarantee and Warranty, same word borrowed at different times from different dialects of the same language.)

It seems you are conflating a number of things here. What I was arguing is that the majority of irregularities in current day English spelling are caused by change of pronunciation.

But I'm sorry, the original poster was correct. Most borrowings from Latin and French have been Anglicised, but retain close to their original spelling, even when it makes little sense.

"Sense" is not something to take into consideration. French has been incorporated in English mostly after 1066, and the French back then wasn't the French of modern times. Both French and English pronunciation have changed drasticaly those past 950 years. Latin words were incorporated into English later, starting around 1500. But by then, Latin pronunciation was already heavily Anglicised, mostly based on spelling. Today, Latin words are pronounced far more regular than non-Latin ones! See also here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_influence_in_English

All of the "-tion" and "-sion" ending, as an example, should easily be "-shun"

Now you are talking about respelling. But that's a whole different game from easy legibility. Let's keep the discussion clean.

Wrong (sort of). The alphabet changed around English a few times. Firstly, the transition between Anglo-Saxon and Norman literary traditions had a giant influence on the shape of the spelling.

I mentioned the yogh. You don't know what a yogh is, amirite?

But it was not one specific spelling. So we have weird oddities like "one" (wun)

The pronunciation "wun" is from a different dialect of English, replacing the pronunciation the writing is based on. See also here http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/14959/why-is-one-pronoun...

The way the alphabet is used has "changed", *because* the pronunciation has changed. See, same thing. I think you are equating spoken and written as being the same, and they aren't at all. Written English is barely able to accommodate most spoken English dialects in the UK.

I'm really not sure what you're getting at here. The alphabet has been used as it always has: to accomodate writing. And there's no 1:1 correspondence between the canonical value of a letter and its use in words. English is slightly worse in that respect than some other languages, though not the worst by far.

Reply Parent Score: 3