LINGUIST List 3.941

Sun 29 Nov 1992

Disc: Hangul

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Re: 3.927 Hangul
  2. , World Linguistics Day

Message 1: Re: 3.927 Hangul

Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 19:38:51 EDRe: 3.927 Hangul
From: Young-Key Kim-Renaud <>
Subject: Re: 3.927 Hangul

The spelling "Hangul" is a modified version of McCune-Reischauer romanization.
The second vowel is indeed a high back unrounded vowel which is often described
by a barred i by phonologists but by the letter u with a lower half of a circle
above it by M-R. The word should be spelled at least with an apostrophe or a
hyphen to prevent the wrong syllable division of Hang-ul, with a totally dif-
ferent result. It is true that the spelling Han'gullal is closer to the actual
pronunciation, although the underlying form is Han'gul followed by the word Nal
It is indeed the form adopted by the McCune-Reischauer system of romanization.
Y.-K. Kim-Renaud

P.S.) Actually the convention by McCune-Reischuer users dictates that the
Korean alphabet day be spelled <Han'gul nal>, that is, write the string as two
words with a space in between and specifying the underlying form of the first
sound of the second word. Y.-K. Kim-Renaud.
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Message 2: World Linguistics Day

Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1992 14:24:53 World Linguistics Day
From: <>
Subject: World Linguistics Day

After suggesting a while ago that we celebrate October 9th, the day of
the Korean alphabet (Hangul Day), as World Linguistics Day, I got a
couple of messages that objected that the day of the creation of the
Korean alphabet is no more universal than, e.g., Pentecost (the Christian
holiday celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit and the speaking in tongues
by Christ's disciples).
 But one does not have to see the creation of the Korean alphabet primarily
as an achievement of the Korean nation, but as an achievement of linguistic
science, which is universal by definition. To be sure, there are other
great achievements of linguistic science, e.g. the creation of speech-
based writing, the creation of segment-based alphabets, Humboldt's
"Ueber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaus", Chomsky's
"A minimalist program for linguistic theory", etc. But for the earlier
great events in the history of linguistics, those on which the dust has
settled, exact dates are not known. In addition, the (sad) fact that
the (South) Korean government has just abolished Hangul Day makes it less
of a primarily national holiday. (What about North Korea, by the way?)
 Incidentally, I just found out that there is another country where
the creation of the alphabet is celebrated as a national holiday: in
Bulgaria, May 24th is the Day of Slavic Writing (in the 9th century,
St. Cyrill and St. Method created the first Slavic written language and
created the Glagolitic alphabet, whose structure, but not the form of the
letters, is based on the Greek alphabet).

Martin Haspelmath, Free University of Berlin
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