It makes me a little uncomfortable to have to cite one of my own efforts on han'gul studies, but the publication comes closer to addressing some of the more general questions about the Korean writing system posted in the last several days than anything else written in English I could readily think of. Since you ask, I will now cite it. The book, which I edited, is entitled, _The Korean Alphabet: Its History and Structure_ and published by the University of Hawaii Press (1997). The URL of the publisher's website on the book is as follows:

I have been using the McCune-Reischauer system of romanization (without the diacritics for the sake of email transmission), which is used by the Library of Congress in the US and most international scholars in Korean studies. The way how it works is included in the book cited above. Korean linguists prefer using the Yale system, however, when they write analytical articles on Korean, because the Yale romanization is a generally phonemic system, while the McCune-Reischauer system represents phonetic detail to stay closer to the "actual pronunciation."

Another very important work is Gari Ledyard's 1966 University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. dissertaion, _The Korean Language Reform of 1446_, which was published by Sin'gu munhwasa in Seoul in 1998. This book contains an English translation of _Hunmin chong'um {the original name of the alphabet, meaning 'Correct Sounds for the Instruction of the People')_ and that of the explanatory treatises and examples called _Hunmin chong’um haerye (Explanations and Examples of the Correct Sounds for the Instruction of the People)_. Hunmin chong'um is not only a succinct linguistic masterpiece, but also an elegant piece of literature. Ledyard's translations have been a classic ever since they became even informally available. My review of Ledyard's 1998 book appears in the journal, _Written Language and Literacy_ 4.2 (2001, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.): 239-247.

I apologize if I have given an impression of being nationalistically or otherwise proud in my recent messages, but please allow me to finish by saying that UNESCO's International Advisory Committee has recognized the value of _Hunmin chong'um_ and voted to list it in its "Memory of the World Register."

Merci de votre interet!

Young-Key Kim-Renaud

----- Original Message -----
From: Stage Linguistique <linguistique_stage@...>
Date: Wednesday, June 9, 2004 4:30 am
Subject: Re: functional classification of writing systems

> Dear Young-Key Kim-Renaud
> > The Korean alphabet is really easy to learn. It is
> > worth investing half a day of your life to learning
> > it, especially if you are interested in the
> > typology of writing systems.
> Any web-site or book you'd recommend us? (which uses a
> scientific transcription rather than a vaguely
> Anglicised one BTW)