Your points are well-taken, and I predicted someone would make just the comment you did. I should have said a little more about the "effectiveness" (Hi Peter!) of writing in syllable blocks in the case of han'gul. I am just too busy at this moment to get engaged in a long dialog on anything with anyone, but I still wanted to say a few things that I thought could contribute to the group.

There is at least one "statistical" research report of an experiment teaching students of Korean as an extra language. The conclusion is that writing in syllables is in fact easier than writing linearly in the case of students learning Korean. I also agree facts are important, but I do not regard this quantitative study better supporting a hypothesis than other kinds of structural, linguistic phenomena observable in language acquisition, errors, variation and change, etc.

As for conservatism in writing, you are right. However, Koreans have been pretty good in "reforming" their orthography regularly to keep up with language change. That is why, there is still a pretty good correspondence between the spoken and written Korean. One of the leaders in linearization proposal was the very famous, respected linguist, Chu Si-gyong, who is the person who changed the name of the alphabet to the current "han'gul," said that we should probably respect the creator's original idea and write in syllable blocks, even while proposing linear writing at the same time. Because most people were either illiterate or writing in Chinese in his time (early 20th century), he could have set a trend and changed the whole writing tradition, but he did not succeed in doing so.

Yes, there are those who can count, but it is better if they know what they are counting.

Young-Key Kim-Renaud

----- Original Message -----
From: John Cowan <cowan@...>
Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2004 7:32 am
Subject: Re: functional classification of writing systems

> Young-Key Kim-Renaud scripsit:
> > Linear writing is called "p'uro ssugi (take apart and write)" in
> > contrast with the usual "moa ssugi (gather together and write)". As
> > far as Korean writing is concerned, writing linearly or in syllable
> > blocks is an orthographic issue, not a typological question.
> That is
> > why Korean writing is not a syllabary but an alphabet.
> Agreed.
> > The fact that the
> > proposal for linear writing did not really go anywhere--in spite
> of the
> > several orthographic reforms Korean writing has undergone--
> demonstrates> the efficiency of writing in syllable blocks.
> This argues beyond the data. It may merely demonstrate the mighty
> force of tradition, like the QWERTY keyboard, which may not be good
> but is good enough to survive.
> --
> There are three kinds of people in the world: John Cowan
> those who can count,
> http://www.reutershealth.comand those who can't.
> jcowan@...