Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Answer to the Poll Question

Before Korean had its own alphabet, it used Chinese characters, which are still used today. What is the name for these characters?
  • Sanskrit-0
  • Hangeul-3
  • Hanja-2
  • Hieroglyphics-1

The answer is Hanja (한자). Sanskrit is Indian and Hieroglyphics are Egyptian. Hangeul (한글) is the Korean script. Hanja is not used much anymore. Many people in the younger generation cannot read Hanja. Middle-aged people can read it because it was used so much during their younger days. Older people can read it well and can speak Japanese as well, due to the Japanese colonization of Korea. Hangeul was not used much until after World War II, and then only in North Korea. This was because the elitists did not want the general public to be able to read, which was the intention behind the invention of the alphabet. During the 1990s, Hangeul came into widespread use in South Korea. Here in Pusan, the subway signs are written in Hangeul, Hanja, and English (for most stops the Romanization of Hangeul). Many of the road signs have all three written forms. Perhaps, the next generation will not be able to read it because children typically do not learn hanja in school until middle school. The newspapers used to be written in Hanja, but now people do not have to know Hanja to be able to know what is going on in the world.

Korean computers have a toggle on them so that one can type in Hanja. One has to type each syllable in Hangeul, then press the Hanja button. Then, there are a few choices for that syllable. Each Hanja character is one syllable. One has to know Korean to first to know what to put for each syllable because there is a definition by each Hanja character. 大 (대) is the first syllable in Daegu, Daeyeon, and Daejeon. It is seen on the signs at the bus station and in the subway stations. My subway station is 中洞 in Hanja, 중동 in Hangeul, and Jung-dong (joong-doang) in English.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I'm looking at your list of "words I learned from the kids" on the left side of the blog page and wondering why they go to such lengths to write "dot dot dot" when they could take the American "text shortcut way" and just write it as "..."
Now THAT I can read.