Korean mixed script

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Korean mixed script
한국어의 국한문혼용
韓國語의 國漢文混用
Hunmin jeong-eum.jpg
Alternative utilizes both logographic (Hanja) and alphabetic (Hangul) characters
Languages Korean language
Time period
1443 to the present
ISO 15924 Kore, 287
Korean mixed script
Revised Romanization Hanja-honyong / Gukhanmun-honyong
McCune–Reischauer Hancha-honyong / Kukhanmun-honyong

Korean mixed script, known in Korean as hanja honyong (Korean : 한자혼용; Hanja : 漢字混用), Hanja-seokkeosseugi (漢字섞어쓰기, 한자섞어쓰기), 'Chinese character mixed usage,' or gukhanmun honyong (국한문혼용;國漢文混用), 'national Sino-Korean mixed usage,' is a form of writing the Korean language that uses a mixture of the Korean alphabet or hangul (한글) and hanja ( 漢字 , 한자), 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 (한자어;漢字語), 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 (한문;漢文).


Although examples of mixed-script writing are as old as hangul itself, the mixing of hangul and hanja together in sentences became the official writing system of the Korean language at the end of the nineteenth century, when reforms ended the primacy of literary Chinese in literature, science and government. This style of writing, in competition with hangul-only writing, continued as the formal written version of Korean for most of the twentieth century. The script slowly gave way to hangul-only usage in North Korea by 1949, while it continues in South Korea to a limited extent. However, with the decrease in hanja education, the number of hanja in use has slowly dwindled and in the twenty-first century, very few hanja are used at all. [1]


The development of hanja-honyong required two major developments in orthographic traditions of the Korean Peninsula. The first was the adoption of hanja, around the beginning of the Three Kingdom period of Korea. The second was the introduction of hangul in 1446.



The calligraphy of Korean scholar, poet and painter Gim Jeonghui (gimjeonghyi
; Jin Zheng Xi 
) of the early nineteenth century. Like most educated Koreans from the Three Kingdom period until the fall of the Joseon Dynasty in 1910, Gim Jeong-hui composed most of his works in hanmun or literary Chinese. Chusa-Silsa gusijang.jpg
The calligraphy of Korean scholar, poet and painter Gim Jeonghui (김정희;金正喜) of the early nineteenth century. Like most educated Koreans from the Three Kingdom period until the fall of the Joseon Dynasty in 1910, Gim Jeong-hui composed most of his works in hanmun or literary Chinese.

Literacy on the Korean Peninsula began with the adoption of literary Chinese (한문;漢文;hanmun) written in Chinese characters (한자;漢字;hanja). The earliest evidence of Korean hanmun is an engraving on a sword dated to 222 BC and unearthed from what is now Pyeongyang, with the next earliest example being a stone inscription from 85 AD in Pyeong-annam Province. By the start of the early Three Kingdom period (삼국시대;三國時代;Samguk Shidae) (57 BC—668 AD), each of the kingdoms of Baekje (백제;百濟), Silla (신라;新羅) and Goguryeo (고구려;高句麗), later shortened to Goryeo (고려;高麗), the use of hanmun was entrenched as the official written language of the respective royal courts and nobility.

Several factors at the start of the Three Kingdom period facilitated the spread of Sinitic culture and hanmun literacy amongst the nobility. The Korean peoples were originally several tribes that had been at the periphery of Chinese civilisation, and naturally were inclined to adopt the more advanced culture and technology of their larger neighbor. From 108 BC to 313 AD, the Chinese Han Dynasty established the Four Commanderies of Han in northern Korea. [2] The spread of Buddhism in Korea also occurred around the 4th century. [2]

Another major factor in the adoption of hanmun was the adoption of the gwageo (과거;科擧;gwageo), copied from the Chinese imperial examination, open to all freeborn men. Special schools were set up for the well-to-do and the nobility across Korea to train new scholar officials for civil service. Adopted by Silla and Goryeo, the gwageo system was maintained by Goryeo after the unification of Korea until the end of the nineteenth century. The scholarly élite began learning the hanja by memorising the Thousand Character Classic (천자문;千字文;Cheonjamun), Three Character Classic (삼자경;三字經;Samja Gyeong) and Hundred Family Surnames (백가성;百家姓;Baekja Seong). Passage of the gwageo required the thorough ability to read, interpret and compose passages of works such as the Analects ((논어;論語;Non-eo), Great Learning (대학;大學;Daehak), Doctrine of the Mean (중용;中庸;Jung-yong), Mencius (맹자;孟子;Maengja), Classic of Poetry (시경;詩經;Sigyeong), Book of Documents (서경;書經;Seogyeong), Classic of Changes (역경;易經;Yeon-gyeong), Spring and Autumn Annals (춘추;春秋;Chuncho) and Book of Rites (예기;禮記;Yegi). Other important works include Sūnzǐ's Art of War (손자병법;孫子兵法;Sonja Byeongbeop) and Selections of Refined Literature (문선;文選;Munseon).

The Korean scholars were very proficient in literary Chinese. The craftsmen and scholars of Baekje were renowned in Japan, and were eagerly sought as teachers due to their proficiency in hanmun. Korean scholars also composed all diplomatic records, government records, scientific writings, religious literature and much poetry in hanmun, demonstrating that the Korean scholars were not just reading Chinese works but were actively composing their own. Well-known examples of Chinese-language literature in Korea include Three Kingdoms History (삼국사기;三國史記;Samguk Sagi), Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms (삼국사기;三國遺事;Samguk Yusa), New Stories of the Golden Turtle (금오신화;金鰲新話;Geumo Sinhwa), The Cloud Dream of the Nine (구운몽;九雲夢;Gu Unmong), Musical Cannon (악학궤범;樂學軌範;Akhak Gwebeom), The Story of Hong Gildong (홍길동전;洪吉童傳;Hong Gildong Jeon) and Licking One's Lips at the Butcher's Door (도문대작;屠門大嚼;Domun Daejak).

Adaptation of hanja to Korean

The Chinese language, however, was quite different from the Korean language, consisting of terse, often monosyllabic words with a strictly analytic, SVO structure in stark contrast to the generally polysyllabic, very synthetic, SOV structure, with various grammatical endings that encoded person, levels of politeness and case. Despite the adoption of literary Chinese as the written language, Chinese never replaced Korean as the spoken language, even amongst the scholars that had immersed themselves into its study.

The first attempts to make literary Chinese texts more accessible to Korean readers were hanmun passages written in Korean word order. This would later develop into the gugyeol (구결;口訣) or 'separated phrases,' system. Chinese texts were broken into meaningful blocks, and in the spaces were inserted hanja used to represent the sound of native Korean grammatical endings. As literary Chinese was very terse, leaving much to be understood from context, insertion of occasional verbs and grammatical markers helped to clarify the meaning. For instance, the hanja '' was used for its native Korean gloss whereas '' was used for its Sino-Korean pronunciation, and combined into '爲尼' and read hani (하니), 'to do (and so).' [3] Special symbols were sometimes used to aid in the reordering of words in approximation of Korean grammar. It was similar to the kanbun (漢文) system developed in Japan to render Chinese texts. The system was not a translation of Chinese into Korean, but an attempt to make Korean speakers knowledgeable in hanja overcome the difficulties in interpreting Chinese texts. Although it was developed by scholars of the early Goryeo Kingdom (918 - 1392), gugyeol was of particular importance during the Joseon period, extending into the first decade of the twentieth century, since all civil servants were required to be able to read, translate and interpret Confucian texts and commentaries. [4]

The Korean Baegun Hwasang Chorok Buljo Jikji Simche Yojeol (baegunhwasangcorogbuljojigjisimceyojeol
; Bai Yun He Shang Chao Lu Fo Zu Zhi Zhi Xin Ti Yao Jie 
) or roughly 'Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings' is the oldest example of a book printed with moveable type and was printed in Korea in 1377, but is written in literary Chinese. Korean book-Jikji-Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Seon Masters-1377.jpg
The Korean Baegun Hwasang Chorok Buljo Jikji Simche Yojeol (백운화상초록불조직지심체요절;白雲和尙抄錄佛祖直指心體要節) or roughly 'Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings' is the oldest example of a book printed with moveable type and was printed in Korea in 1377, but is written in literary Chinese.

The first attempt at transcribing Korean in hanja was the idu (이두;吏讀), or 'official reading,' system that began to appear after 500 AD. In this system, the hanja were chosen for their equivalent native Korean gloss. For example, the hanja '不冬' signifies 'no winter' or 'not winter' and has the formal Sino-Korean pronunciation of (부동) budong, similar to Mandarin bù dōng. Instead, it was read as andeul (안들) which is the Middle Korean pronunciation of the characters' native gloss and is ancestor to modern anneunda (않는다), 'do not' or 'does not.' The various idu conventions were developed in the Goryeo period but was particularly associated with the jung-in (중인;中人), the upper middle class of the early Joseon period. [5]

A subset of idu was known as hyangchal (향찰;鄕札), 'village notes,' and was a form of idu particularly associated with the hyangga (향가;鄕歌) the old poetry compilations and some new creations preserved in the first half of the Goryeo period when its popularity began to wane. [2] In the hyangchal or 'village letters' system, there was free choice in how a particular hanja was used. For example, to indicate the topic of Princess Shenhua, the half-sister of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty was recorded as '善化公主主隱' in hyangchal and was read as (선화공주님은), seonhwa gongju-nim-eun where '善化公主' is read in Sino-Korean, as it is a Chinese name and the Sino-Korean term for 'princess' was already adopted as a loan word. The hanja '主隱,' however, were read according to their native pronunciation but was not used for its literal meaning signifying 'the prince steals' but the native postpositions () nim, the honorific marker used after professions and titles, and eun, the topic marker. In mixed script, this would be rendered as '善化公主님은.' The idu and its hyangchal variant were similar to the Japanese man'yogana (万葉仮名) system that would develop much later in Japan. Idu and its hyangchal variant were mostly replaced by mixed-script writing with hangul although idu was not officially discontinued until 1894 when reforms abolished its usage in administrative records of civil servants. Even with idu, most literature and official records were still recorded in literary Chinese until 1910. [5] [4]

Promulgation of Hunminjeong-eum


Example of hangul written in the traditional vertical manner. On the left are the hunminjeong-eum and on the right are modern hangul. Korean old.jpg
Example of hangul written in the traditional vertical manner. On the left are the hunminjeong-eum and on the right are modern hangul.

Despite the advent of vernacular writing in Korean utilizing hanja, these publications remained the dominion of the literate class, comprising royalty and nobility, Buddhist monks, Confucian scholars, civil servants and members of the upper classes as the ability to read these texts required proficient ability to understand the meaning of the Chinese characters, with both their adopted Sino-Korean pronunciation and their native gloss. To rectify this, King Sejong the Great (조선 세종대왕;朝鮮 世宗大王) summoned a team of scholars to devise a new script for the Korean language, leading to the 1446 promulgation of the hunminjeong-eum (훈민정음;訓民正音), 'correct pronunciation for teaching the people.' The problems surrounding literacy in literary Chinese to the common populace was summarized in the opening of Sejong's proclamation, written in literary Chinese:

Because the speech of this country is different from that of China, it [the spoken language] does not match the [Chinese] letters. Therefore, even if the ignorant want to communicate, many of them in the end cannot state their concerns. Saddened by this, I have [had] 28 letters newly made. It is my wish that all the people may easily learn these letters and that [they] be convenient for daily use.

The script is now the primary and most commonplace method to write the Korean language, and is known as hangul (한글)) in South Korea, from han () but homophonous with Sino-Korean han ((;), 'Korean,' and the native word gul (), 'script.' In North Korea, the script is known as joseon ('Chosan') (조선글;朝鮮글) from an old name of Korea. The promulgation is of the indigenous script is celebrated as a national holiday on 9 October in the south and 15 January in the north, respectively. [6] [7]

The new script rapidly spread to the segments of the population traditionally denied access to education such as farmers, fishermen, women of the lower classes, rural merchants and young children. Several attempts to ban or over-turn the use of hangul were initiated but failed to halt its spread. These attempts were initiated by several rulers, who discovered disparaging remarks about their reigns, and the upper classes, whose grip on power and influence was predicated upon their ability to read, write and interpret classical Chinese texts and commentaries thereof. The scholarly élite mocked the sole use of hangul pseudo-deferentially as jinseo진서;真書), 'real script.' Other insults such as 'women's script,' 'children's script' and 'farmer's hand' are known anecdotally but are not found in the literature. [7]


A South Korean road sign which indicates 'no thoroughfare' or 'do not enter' in hangul. As a Sino-Korean phrase, it would have historically been written in hanja as 'Tong Xing Jin Zhi 
.' South Korea road sign 201.svg
A South Korean road sign which indicates 'no thoroughfare' or 'do not enter' in hangul. As a Sino-Korean phrase, it would have historically been written in hanja as '通行禁止.'

Despite the fears of the upper classes and scholarly élite, the introduction of the early hangul actually increased proficiency in literary Chinese. New-style hanja dictionaries appeared, arranging words according to their alphabetic order when spelled out in hangul, and showing compound words containing the hanja as well as its Sino-Korean and its native, sometimes archaic, pronunciation — a system still in use for many contemporary Korean-language hanja dictionaries. The syllable blocks could be written easily between meaningful units of Chinese characters, as annotations, but also began to replace the complex notation of the early gugyeol and idu, including hyangchal, although gugyeol and idu were not officially abolished until the end of the 19th century in part because literary Chinese was still the official written language of the royal court, nobility, governance and diplomacy until its usage was finally abolished in the early twentieth century and its local production mostly ceased by mid-century. [7]

The real spread of hangul to all elements of Korean society was the late eighteenth century beginning of two literary trends. The ancient sijo (시조;時調), 'seasonal tune,' poetry. Although sijo , heavily influenced by Chinese Tang Dynasty poetry, was long written in Chinese, authors began writing poems in Korean written solely with hangul. At the same time, gasa (가사;歌詞), 'song lyric,' poetry was similarly spread. Korean women of the upper classes created gasa by translating or finding inspiration in the old poems, written in literary Chinese, and translating them into Korean, but as the name suggests, were popularly sung. [8] Although Catholic and Protestant missionaries initially attempted to evangelise the Korean Peninsula starting with the nobility using Chinese translations and works. In the early nineteenth century, Bishop Siméon-François Berneux, or Jang Gyeong-il (장경일;張敬一) mandated that all publications be written only in hangul and all students in the missionary schools were required to use it. Protestant and other Catholic missionaries followed suit, facilitating the spread of Christianity in Korea, but also created a large corpus of Korean-language material written in hangul only. [9]

Mixed script or Hanja-honyong

The lyrics to the National anthem of the Korean Empire in Korean mixed script. The smaller hangul after each hanja group would normally be unwritten, but are presented to indicate the pronunciation of the Sino-Korean elements. daehanjegug aegugga.svg
The lyrics to the National anthem of the Korean Empire in Korean mixed script. The smaller hangul after each hanja group would normally be unwritten, but are presented to indicate the pronunciation of the Sino-Korean elements.

The practice of mixing hangul into hanja began as early as the introduction of hangul. Even King Sejong's promulgation proclamation was written in literary Chinese and idu passages to explain the alphabet and mixed passages that help 'ease' the reader into the use of the alphabet. The first novel written in hangul, Yongbieocheonga (용비어천가;龍飛御天歌), Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, is actually mostly written in what would now be considered mixed-script writing. Another major literary work touted as a masterpiece of hangul-based literature, the 1590 translation of The Analects of Confucius (논어;論語) by Yi Yulgok (이율곡;李栗谷) is also written entirely in hanja-honyong.

Although many Koreans today attribute hanja-honyong to the Japanese occupation of Korea, in part due to the visual similarity of Chinese characters interspersed with alphabetic text of Japanese-language texts to Korean-language texts in mixed script, and the numerous assimilation and suppression schemes of the occupational government carried out against the Korean people, language and culture. In fact, hanja-honyong was commonplace amongst the royalty, yangban (양반;兩班) and jung-in classes for personal records and informal letters shortly after the introduction of the alphabet, and replaced the routine use of idu by the jung-in. The heyday of hanja-honyong arrived with the Gap-o reforms (갑오;甲午) passed in 1894 - 1896 after the Donghak Peasant Rebellion (동학농민혁명;東學農民革命). The reforms ended the client status of Korea to the Qing Dynasty emperors, elevating King Gojong to Emperor Gwangmu (고종 광무제;高宗 光武帝), ended the supremacy of literary Chinese and idu script, ended the gwageo imperial examinations. In place of literary Chinese, the Korean language written in the 'national letters' (국문;國文)—now understood as an alternate name for hangul but at the time referred to hanja-honyong—was now the language of governance. [10]

Yu Giljun (yugiljun
; Yu Ji Jun 
), author of the hanja-honyong publication Seoyu Gyeonmun (seoyugyeonmun
; Xi You Jian Wen 
) or Observations on Travels to the West. Yu Kil-chun.jpg
Yu Giljun (유길준;兪吉濬), author of the hanja-honyong publication Seoyu Gyeonmun (서유견문;西遊見聞) or Observations on Travels to the West.

Due to over a thousand years of literary Chinese supremacy, the early hanja-honyong texts were written in a stiff, prosaic style, with a preponderance of Sino-Korean terms barely removed from gugyeol, but the written language was quickly adapted into the current format with a more natural style, using hanja only where a Sino-Korean loan word was read in Sino-Korean pronunciation and hangul for native words and grammatical particles. One of the most important publications the end of the Joseon period was the weekly newspaper, Hanseong Jugang (한성주간;漢城週刊), one of the first written in the more natural style several years before the Gap-o reforms. The popular newspaper was originally started as a hanja-only publication that lasted only a few weeks before they switched formats. During the reforms, Yu Giljun (유길준;兪吉濬) published his travel diaries, Seoyu Gyeonmun (서유견문;西遊見聞) or Observations on Travels to the West was a best-seller at this time. The success of Hanseong Jugang and Seoyu Gyeonmun urged the literati to switch to vernacular Korean in hanja-honyong. [11]


In a typical hanja-honyong texts, traditionally all words that were of Sino-Korean origin, either composed from Chinese character compounds natively or loan words directly from Chinese, were written in hanja although particularly rare or complicated hanja were often disambiguated with the hangul pronunciation and perhaps a gloss of the meaning. Native words, including Korean grammatical postpositions, were written in hangul. Due to the reforms the close of the Joseon Dynasty, native words were not supposed to be written in hanja, as they were in the idu and hyangchal systems which were abolished at this time.


Korean in hanja-honyong and hangul [12]
失業者가 繼續 늘어나서 政府는 對策을 磨鍊하고 있다.실업자계속 늘어나서 정부대책마련하고 있다.Sireopjaga gyesok neureonaseo jeongbuneun daechaegeul maryeonhago itda.As the number of unemployed continues to rise, the government is planning improvements.
大韓民國 農業이 더 發展할 수 있도록 도와주는 硏究 結果가 公開되었다.대한민국 농업이 더 발전할 수 있도록 도와주는 연구결과공개되었다.Daehan Minguk nong-eobi deo baljeonhal su itdorok dowajuneun yeongugyeolgwaga gonggaedoe-itda.The research results that may improve Korean agriculture are now public.
朝鮮日報는 1920年에 創刊되었다. 100年이 다 되어 간다.조선일보는 1920창간되었다. 100이 다 되어 간다.Joseon Ilboneun 1920(cheongubaegisim)nyeone changgandoe-eotda 100(baeng)nyeoni da doe-eo ganda.Chosun Ilbo was first published in 1920. Almost 100 years have been passed since then.
休暇 中 心肺 蘇生術로 사람을 살린 兵士가 話題가 되고 있다.휴가 중 심폐 소생술로 사람을 살린 병사화제가 되고 있다.Hyuga jung simpye sosaengsullo sarameul sallin byeongsaga hwajega doego itda.The soldier who revived an elderly person with CPR while on vacation became a headline.
인터넷 豫買가 電話 豫買보다 便하더라.인터넷 예매전화 예매보다 하더라.Inteonet yemaega jeonhwa yemaeboda pyeonhadeora.Internet reservations are more convenient than telephone reservations.
어제 日出은 5:10, 日沒은 19:53이었다.어제 일출은 5:10, 일몰은 19:53이었다.Eoje ilchureun 5:10(daseot-si sip-bun), ilmoreun, 19:53(ilgop-si osipsam-bun)i-eotda.Yesterday, sunrise was at 5:10 and sunset was at 19:53.

Visual processing

In Korean mixed-script writing, especially in formal and academic contexts, the majority of semantic or 'content' words are generally written in hanja whereas most syntax or 'function' is conveyed with grammatical endings, particles and honorifics written in hangul. Japanese, which continues to use a heavily Chinese character-laden orthography, is read in the same way. The Chinese characters, have different angled strokes and oftentimes more strokes than a typical syllable block of hangul letters, and definitely more so than Japanese kana, enabling readers of both respective languages to process content information very quickly. [13]

Korean readers, however, have a few more handicaps than Japanese readers. For instance, although academic, legal, scientific, history and literature have a higher proportion of Sino-Korean vocabulary, Korean has more indigenous vocabulary used for semantic information, so older Korean readers often scan the hanja first and then piece together by reading the hangul content words to piece the meaning. [13] Japanese avoids this problem by writing most content words with their Sino-Japanese equivalent of kanji, whereas reading Sino-Korean vocabulary according to their native Korean pronunciation or translation was banned in previous reforms, so only a Sino-Korean word can be written in hanja. The handicaps are avoided by the adoption of spaces inserted between phrases in modern Korean, limiting phrases, generally, to a content word and a grammatical particles, allowing readers to spot the native Korean content words faster.

In reading texts, Koreans are faster at reading out passages written in hangul than in mixed script. However, although 'reading' is faster, understanding the texts is facilitated with the use of hanja in higher order language to the large number of homophones in the language, such as the continued role of 'hanja disambiguation' even in hangul-only texts. For instance, daehan (대한), usually understood in the context of the 'Great Han' (大韓, 대한) or 'Great Korean people,' can also indicate (大寒,대한) 'big winter,' the coldest part at the end of January and beginning of February, (大旱, 대한) 'severe drought,' (大漢, 대한) 'Great Chinese people,' (大恨, 대한) 'deep resentment,' (對韓, 대한) 'anti-Korean,' (對漢, 대한), 'anti-Chinese,' or native Korean (대한) 'about or 'toward.' [14] Readers of technical and academic texts often have to clarify terms for the listener to avoid ambiguity, and most hanja are only used when necessary to clear confusion. As can be seen in the example below, the hanja in an otherwise mostly native vocabulary song stand out from the hangul text, thus appearing almost like bolded and enlarged text. This was further amplified in older texts, when hangul blocks were sometimes written smaller than the surrounding hanja. [13]

First and Third Refrain from Seoul version of the Korean epic song Arirang (아리랑)
First RefrainMixed script나를버리고가시는임은十里못가서난다
Hangul only나를버리고가시는임은십리도못가서발병난다
English'I-[object]''to abandon-[serial sentence connector]''to go'-[topic]'you-[topic]''ten li (distance)-[additive]''to be able to go-[primary conjunctive]''to have sore feet-[conjunctive/gerund]'
TranslationMy love, you are leaving me. Your feet will be SORE before you go TEN LI.
'You are going to abandon me and will not be able to go ten li [before] having sore feet.'
Third RefrainMixed script저기白頭山이라지冬至섣달에도꽃만핀다
Hangul only저기산이백두산이라지동지섣달에도꽃만핀다
English'that-[nominal clause]''that''mountain-[nominative]''Baekdu Mountain-[plain declarative]-[nominative]-[casual declarative]''winter solstice''twelfth month-despite-[additive]''to bloom''to blossom'
TranslationThere, over there, that MOUNTAIN is BAEKDU MOUNTAIN, where, even in the middle of WINTER DAYS, flowers bloom.
'That one, that is Baekdu Mountain, surely. Despite the [middle of] winter [around the time of the] winter solstice, flowers bloom.'

Hanja disambiguation

Very few hanja are used in modern Korean writing, but are occasionally seen in academic and technical texts and formal publications, such as newspapers, where the rare hanja is used as a shorthand in newspaper headlines, especially if the native Korean equivalent is a longer word, or more importantly, to disambiguate the meaning of a word. Sino-Korean words make up over 70% of the Korean language, although only a third of them are in common usage, but that proportion increases in formal and highbrow publications. A native Korean syllable may have up to 1,300 possible combinations compared to the Sino-Korean inventory of 400. Although Middle Korean developed tones that may have facilitated differentiation of words, this development was lost in the transition to modern Korean, making many words homophones of each other. In Cantonese, whose pronunciation of the characters is similar to the Sino-Korean pronunciation due to its conservative phonology and the ancient age in which these words entered Korean, has several words pronounced /san/: 'new', 'body', 'deity', 'difficult' or 'spicy', 'large clam', 'kidney' and 'to lament.' Although even in Cantonese , and are true homophones with the pronunciation of /sân/ with the high tone, each of the other examples are pronounced with a unique tone that distiniguish them from the first three and each other: /sa̜n/, /sàn/ and /sān/. In Korean, the hanja-eo reading of all these characters is /sin/ and in hangul spelling all share and no tone to distinguish them. [15]

By the mid-1990s, when even the most conservative newspapers stopped publishing in hanja-honyong, with most ceasing in the 1980s, and switched to a generally all-hangul format, the use of characters to clarify the meaning of a word, 'hanja disambiguation', is still common, in part due to complaints from older subscribers that were educated in the mixed script and were used to using hanja glosses. [16] [17] From this 2018 article from the conservative newspaper The Chosun Ilbo , two phrases are disambiguated with hanja: [18]

Although in many instances, context can help discern the meaning, and many of the possible variants are obscure or rare characters that would be encountered only in either classical literature or literary Chinese thus limiting choices. In more relaxed publications, where hanja disambiguation is less common, Sino-Korean terms are avoided as much as possible, although this may appear as "dumbed down" material to some readers. [17] Context can often facilitate the meaning of many terms. Many Sino-Korean terms that are rare and only encountered in ancient texts in literary Chinese are almost unknown and would not even be part of the hanja taught in education, limiting the number of likely choices. [16]

Sino-Korean (漢字語, 한자어, hanja-eo) homophones

patrol zone
types of ghost
first strike
good season
nuptial consummation

noble ancestry
fan operator
to pledge

ancient times
noble aura

paternal cousin
throat disease

to bow
court minister
previous times
virtuous success
death anniversary

reclaimed land
bell and drum
Ge ware

spring growth
new branches
farm implements

new knowledge

tutelary deity



The text below is the preamble to the constitution of the Republic of Korea. The first text is written in Hangul; the second is its mixed script version; and the third is its unofficial English translation.

유구한 역사와 전통에 빛나는 우리 대한 국민은 3·1 운동으로 건립된 대한민국 임시 정부의 법통과 불의에 항거한 4·19 민주 이념을 계승하고, 조국의 민주 개혁과 평화적 통일의 사명에 입각하여 정의·인도와 동포애로써 민족의 단결을 공고히 하고, 모든 사회적 폐습과 불의를 타파하며, 자율과 조화를 바탕으로 자유 민주적 기본 질서를 더욱 확고히 하여 정치·경제·사회·문화의 모든 영역에 있어서 각인의 기회를 균등히 하고, 능력을 최고도로 발휘하게 하며, 자유와 권리에 따르는 책임과 의무를 완수하게 하여, 안으로는 국민 생활의 균등한 향상을 기하고 밖으로는 항구적인 세계 평화와 인류 공영에 이바지함으로써 우리들과 우리들의 자손의 안전과 자유와 행복을 영원히 확보할 것을 다짐하면서 1948년 7월 12일에 제정되고 8차에 걸쳐 개정된 헌법을 이제 국회의 의결을 거쳐 국민 투표에 의하여 개정한다.

1987년 10월 29일

悠久한 歷史와 傳統에 빛나는 우리 大韓國民은 3·1 運動으로 建立된 大韓民國臨時政府의 法統과 不義에 抗拒한 4·19 民主理念을 繼承하고, 祖國의 民主改革과 平和的統一의 使命에 立脚하여 正義·人道와 同胞愛로써 民族의 團結을 鞏固히 하고, 모든 社會的弊習과 不義를 打破하며, 自律과 調和를 바탕으로 自由民主的基本秩序를 더욱 確固히 하여 政治·經濟·社會·文化의 모든 領域에 있어서 各人의 機會를 均等히 하고, 能力을 最高度로 發揮하게 하며, 自由와 權利에 따르는 責任과 義務를 完遂하게 하여, 안으로는 國民生活의 均等한 向上을 基하고 밖으로는 恒久的인 世界平和와 人類共榮에 이바지함으로써 우리들과 우리들의 子孫의 安全과 自由와 幸福을 永遠히 確保할 것을 다짐하면서 1948年 7月 12日에 制定되고 8次에 걸쳐 改正된 憲法을 이제 國會의 議決을 거쳐 國民投票에 依하여 改正한다.

1987年 10月 29日

We, the people of Korea, proud of a resplendent history and traditions dating from time immemorial, upholding the cause of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea born of the March First Independence Movement of 1919 and the democratic ideals of the April Revolution of 1960, having assumed the mission of democratic reform and peaceful unification of our homeland and having determined to consolidate national unity with justice, humanitarianism and brotherly love, and to destroy all social vices and injustice, and to afford equal opportunities to every person and provide for the fullest development of individual capabilities in all fields, including political, economic, social and cultural life by further strengthening the free and democratic basic order conducive to private initiative and public harmony, and to help each person discharge those duties and responsibilities concomitant to freedoms and rights, and to elevate the quality of life for all citizens and contribute to lasting world peace and the common prosperity of mankind and thereby to ensure security, liberty and happiness for ourselves and our posterity forever, do hereby amend, through national referendum following a resolution by the National Assembly, the Constitution, ordained and established on July 12, 1948, and amended eight times subsequently.

October 29, 1987

See also

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