>I think, as already mentioned in a
>previous message that
>what is being spoken about is the representation of what in phonetics has
>called *distinctive

English-speaking linguists do not talk about "distinctive traits" but
rather use the term "distinctive features".

>I do not know so well han-gul as to give a concrete account, but I think
>han-gul is not a wholy
>*featural system* whilst having taken some *featural* characteristics of
>articulatory traits of
>the definitions of phonems. So that if we try to state a more explicit
>description for han-gul,
>then, it is an *alpha/(articulatory)featural-syllabary*.

I would say, No. The classification system I proposed is based on
structural units in the writing system and the kinds of linguistic objects
they represent. The fact that the shape of some Hangul characters
iconically (in the case of consonants) or metaphorically (in the case of
vowels) represent specific articulatory features is interesting, but
irrelevant to the system of classification I propose.

The reason that I propose this system is that it simply does not make
sense to create a taxonomic system that classifies some things on the
basis of one set of properties while classifying other objects on the
basis of a different set of properties. That simply leads to confusion.
Among the well-known authors who have written on writing systems and who
classify Hangul as "featural", this confusion hasn't occured since they
had a class with one member, and I believe they did that because they were
distracted by Hangul's unique characteristic of character shapes having
iconic and metaphoric relationships to something technical and abstract,
and because they didn't know what to do with the ambiguity in the
structural properties since both phonemes and syllables are relevant.
These authors felt comfortable with how they had classified everything
else, and so didn't get into any confusion of overlapping classifications.

But other experts on writing systems (among them Ken Whistler, Michael
Everson, Lars Marius Garshol, and others) recently got themselves into a
discussion of script classification that went amuck (in my mind) when
people started cross-classifying, and talking about "featural
syllabaries". The potential for confusion was realised right then and

Since I first read any of the familar writings, I have never felt
comfortable with the classifications proposed specifically on the point of
Hangul and the use of a "featural" class. The recent discussion that went
off on what can be considered "featural" reminded me of this issue, and
finally forced me to think about what I thought was wrong.

In any taxonomic system, a class with exactly one member is suspect. You
should always question whether the classification is valid, or whether
there is a problem, and there can be two kinds of problem: the item being
classified hasn't been adequately analysed with respect to the
classification system or, more seriously, the system of classification is
defective. I have always suspected the latter with regard to classifying
Hangul as "featural". I finally realised that it was because the system of
classification lacked coherency right at this point because it was using
two different bases for classification. When I decided to think about how
to classify scripts using a consistent basis, it struck me that Hangul and
the term "alphasyllabary" were a perfect match.

>With respect the rest of your mail, it is interesting and I would like to
>if there a relevant
>manual-book that could be recomended about writting systems theoretical
>understanding and
>clasification in that sense.

I appreciate your interest. Daniels and Bright is a must-have for your
library, and Peter Daniels' article on script classification provides a
good overview. It doesn't cover the term "alphasyllabary", however, which
was introduced by Bill Bright. He has an article in a journal on writing
systems (exact title escapes me right at this moment) from a couple of
years ago that covers his use of that term.

However, the only place you'll find an amended classification that fits
Hangul into a consistent model (IMO) is in what I have written right here.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <peter_constable@...>