From: Richard Ishida <ishida@...>
Date: Monday, June 21, 2004 12:42 pm
Subject: RE: Hangul ruby

> And, if so, where is it used wrt the location of the Hanja. Above
> and sometimes below like in Japanese? Down the right side like
> bopomofo? Below like sometimes pinyin?
> RI
> Richard Ishida
> > From: Marco Cimarosti [marco.cimarosti@...]
> > Sent: 21 June 2004 17:40
> > To:
> > Subject: Hangul ruby
> >
> > I was wondering whether in Korean hangul is used beside hanja
> > to show their pronunciation, in a way similar to Japanese
> > furigana. If yes, in which occasions is it used (e.g.,
> > children books, rare proper names)?
> >
> > TIA.
> >
> > _ Marco

Currently, in Korean texts which are almost always written horizontally from left to write, the usual, although increasingly rare, practice is to put Sino-Korean (literary Chinese used by Koreans) words, not each syllable, in parentheses to disambiguate or clarify the meaning, although I have seen at rare occasions some reverse kindness in the case of some proper nouns with uncommonly used SK characters. Traditionally, Koreans appropriated Sino-Korean characters, called "hanja/hantcha/hancha/hanca" as their own, and the usual practice after the invention of the alphabet was just to mix the two different scripts with no particular help in reading either one. Many Koreans continued to write only in SK for a long time even after the invention of the alphabet, but when nationalism drove Koreans to write only in han'gul at the turn of the century, it did not exclude writing in mixed script.

At the time of the invention of the alphabet, however, there were various texts identifying the new writing system by SK characters or identifying SK characters by the newly invented Korean alphabet, in addition to texts which just mixed the two without giving any pronunciation aid in either direction. In those texts, which were written vertically from top to bottom, a han'gul syllable was put below a SK character on the right-hand corner in smaller type. However, in _Wôrin ch'ôngang chi kok [the circumflex represents a breve mark here]_ (1447) written by King Sejong himself, which was the second oldest collection of odes written in the Korean language after the promulgation of the alphabet, consisting more than 500 long, epic poems praising the greatness of Sakyamuni, Sejong's determination to put Korean before Chinese shows in the order and the size of the two scripts: Korean was written first in regular size and Chinese was given below each Korean syllable in the right-
hand corner in smaller type. In other words, SK was used as a kind of phonetic guide to make the newly invented alphabet clear, because it was assumed that any educated Korean at the time knew SK characters and how they were pronounced in Korean [NB. Unlike in the case of Sino-Japanese, SK characters, with very few exceptions, have one Korean pronunciation per SK character, also thanks to King Sejong.].