Last updated
Revised Romanization hyangchal
McCune–Reischauer hyangch'al

Hyangchal (literally vernacular letters, local letters or corresponded sound) is an archaic writing system of Korea and was used to transcribe the Korean language in hanja. Under the hyangchal system, Chinese characters were given a Korean reading based on the syllable associated with the character. [1] The hyangchal writing system is often classified as a subgroup of Idu. [2] The first mention of hyangchal is the monk Kyun Ye's biography during the Goryeo period. Hyangchal is best known as the method Koreans used to write hyangga poetry. Twenty-five such poems still exist and show that vernacular poetry used native Korean words and Korean word order, and each syllable was "transcribed with a single graph". The writing system covered nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, particles, suffixes, and auxiliary verbs. The practice of hyangchal continued during the Goryeo Dynasty, where it was used to record native poetry as well. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

Chinese language Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages

Chinese is a family of East Asian analytic languages that form the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages. Chinese languages are spoken by the ethnic Han Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Korean language Language spoken in Korea

The Korean language is an East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is a member of the Koreanic language family and is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each country. It is a recognised minority language in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin province, China. It is also spoken in parts of Sakhalin, Russia, and Central Asia.

Classical Chinese language of the Sino-Tibetan language family (ISO 639-3: lzh)

Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese is the language of the classic literature from the end of the Spring and Autumn period through to the end of the Han dynasty, a written form of Old Chinese. Classical Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese that evolved from the classical language, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. Literary Chinese was used for almost all formal writing in China until the early 20th century, and also, during various periods, in Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Among Chinese speakers, Literary Chinese has been largely replaced by written vernacular Chinese, a style of writing that is similar to modern spoken Mandarin Chinese, while speakers of non-Chinese languages have largely abandoned Literary Chinese in favor of local vernaculars.

Hanja Korean language characters of Chinese origin

Hanja is the Korean name for an old writing system consisting mainly of Traditional Chinese characters that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period. More specifically, it refers to the Traditional Chinese characters incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation.

McCune–Reischauer Korean language romanization system

McCune–Reischauer romanization is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems. A modified version of McCune–Reischauer was the official romanization system in South Korea until 2000, when it was replaced by the Revised Romanization of Korean system. A variant of McCune–Reischauer is still used as the official system in North Korea.

Ya (Cyrillic) Cyrillic letter

Ya is a letter of the Cyrillic script, the civil script variant of Old Cyrillic Little Yus. Among modern Slavonic languages, it is used in East Slavic and Bulgarian languages. It is also used in the Cyrillic alphabets used by Mongolian and many Uralic, Caucasian and Turkic languages of the former Soviet Union.

Cherokee language Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people

Cherokee is an endangered-to-moribund Iroquoian language and the native language of the Cherokee people. Ethnologue states that there were 1,520 Cherokee speakers out of 376,000 Cherokee in 2018, while a tally by the three Cherokee tribes in 2019 recorded ~2,100 speakers. The number of speakers is in decline. About eight fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under the age of 40 are fluent. The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma is "definitely endangered", and the one in North Carolina is "severely endangered" according to UNESCO. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina–Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. The dire situation regarding the future of the two remaining dialects prompted the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a state of emergency in June 2019, with a call to enhance revitalization efforts.

<i>Manyōgana</i> System of writing Japanese based solely on Chinese characters

Man'yōgana is an ancient writing system that employs Chinese characters to represent the Japanese language, and was the first known kana system to be developed as a means to represent the Japanese language phonetically. The date of the earliest usage of this type of kana is not clear, but it was in use since at least the mid-seventh century. The name "man'yōgana" derives from the Man'yōshū, a Japanese poetry anthology from the Nara period written with man'yōgana.

In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. Often the chroneme, or the "longness", acts like a consonant, and may have arisen from one, such as in Australian English where postvocalic R is realised as a lengthened preceding vowel. While not distinctive in most other dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in many of the world's languages and dialects, for instance in Arabic, Finnish, Fijian, Kannada, Japanese, Latin, Old English, Scottish Gaelic and Vietnamese. It plays a phonetic role in the majority of dialects of British English and is said to be phonemic in a few other dialects, such as Australian English, Lunenburg English, New Zealand English and South African English. It also plays a lesser phonetic role in Cantonese, unlike other varieties of Chinese.

Old Japanese Oldest attested stage of the Japanese language

Old Japanese is the oldest attested stage of the Japanese language. It is attested in documents from the Nara period. It became Early Middle Japanese in the succeeding Heian period, although the precise separation of these two languages is controversial. Old Japanese was an early member of the Japonic family; no conclusive links to other language families have been demonstrated.

Idu script archaic writing system that represents the Korean language using hanja

Idu is an archaic writing system that represents the Korean language using hanja. The script, which was developed by Buddhist monks, made it possible to record Korean words through its equivalent meaning or sound in Chinese.

Korean poetry

Korean poetry is poetry performed or written in the Korean language or by Korean people. Traditional Korean poetry is often sung in performance. Until the 20th century, much of Korean poetry was written in Hanja and later Hangul.

Korean literature Literature produced by Koreans

Korean literature is the body of literature produced by Koreans, mostly in the Korean language and sometimes in Classical Chinese. For much of Korea's 1,500 years of literary history, it was written in Hanja. It is commonly divided into classical and modern periods, although this distinction is sometimes unclear. Korea is home to the world's first metal and copper type, the world's earliest known printed document and the world's first featural script.

Gugyeol system for rendering texts written in Classical Chinese into understandable Korean

Gugyeol is a system for rendering texts written in Classical Chinese into understandable Korean. It was chiefly used during the Joseon Dynasty, when readings of the Chinese classics were of paramount social importance. Thus, in gugyeol, the original text in classical Chinese was not modified, and the additional markers were simply inserted between phrases. The Korean reader would then read the parts of the Chinese sentence out of sequence to approximate Korean (SOV) rather than Chinese (SVO) word order. A similar system for reading classical Chinese is used to this day in Japan and is known as Kanbun.

Old Korean is the first historically documented stage of the Korean language, typified by the language of the Unified Silla period (668–935).

Korean mixed script writing system for the Korean language that employs hanja for sinoxenic vocabulary and hangul for native Korean vocabulary

Korean mixed script, known in Korean as hanja honyong, Hanja-seokkeosseugi, 'Chinese character mixed usage,' or gukhanmun honyong, 'national Sino-Korean mixed usage,' is a form of writing the Korean language that uses a mixture of the Korean alphabet or hangul and hanja, the Korean name for Chinese characters. The distribution on how to write words usually follows that all native Korean words, including grammatical endings, particles and honorific markers are generally written in hangul and never in hanja. Sino-Korean vocabulary or hanja-eo, either words borrowed from Chinese or created from Sino-Korean roots, were generally always written in hanja although very rare or complex characters were often substituted with hangul. Although the Korean alphabet was introduced and taught to people beginning in 1446, most literature until the early twentieth century was written in literary Chinese known as hanmun.

Chinese family of scripts Writing systems derived from the ancient Oracle Bone script

The Chinese family of scripts are writing systems descended from the Chinese Oracle Bone Script and used for a variety of languages in East Asia. They include logosyllabic systems such as the Chinese script itself, and adaptations to other languages, such as Kanji (Japanese), Hanja (Korean), Chữ nôm (Vietnamese) and Sawndip (Zhuang). More divergent are Tangut, Khitan large script, and its offspring Jurchen, as well as the Yi script and possibly Korean Hangul, which were inspired by Chinese although not directly descended from it. The partially deciphered Khitan small script may be another. In addition, various phonetic scripts descend from Chinese characters, of which the best known are the various kana syllabaries, the zhuyin semi-syllabary, nüshu, and some influence on hangul.

The traditional periodization of Korean distinguishes

Middle Korean is the period in the history of the Korean language succeeding Old Korean and yielding in 1600 to the Modern period. The boundary between the Old and Middle periods is traditionally identified with the establishment of Goryeo in 918, but some scholars have argued for the time of the Mongol invasions of Korea. Middle Korean is often divided into Early and Late periods corresponding to Goryeo and Joseon respectively. It is difficult to extract linguistic information from texts of the Early period, which are written using adaptations of Chinese characters. The situation was transformed in 1446 by the introduction of the Hangul alphabet, so that Late Middle Korean provides the pivotal data for the history of Korean.

Hangul Native alphabet of the Korean language

The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul (Hangeul) in South Korea and Chosŏn'gŭl in North Korea, was invented by King Sejong the Great in 1443 to write the Korean language. All consonant and vowel letters mimic their articulator's shape and phonetic features when pronouncing them.


  1. Coulmas, Florian; S. R. Anderson; J. Bresnan; B. Comrie; W. Dressler; C. J. Ewen (2003). Writing Systems: An Introduction to Their Linguistic Analysis. Cambridge University Press. p. 67.
  2. Sohn, Ho-Min; S. R. Anderson; J. Bresnan; B. Comrie; W. Dressler; C. Ewen; R. Lass (2001). The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 125, 128.
  3. Sohn (2001) p. 125