Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

> I assume this is similar for Japanese and Korean

FYI Korean script (Hangul) is actually an alphabet, so relatively easy to type.

Still, the topic of font choices remains interesting. While we have been accustomed to very differently looking typefaces for Roman scripts for a few hundred years, we know relatively little about CJK fonts. Does anyone know a good article describing Asian font choices in English?

It's not just "symbols" - there's different ways to draw these lines, too, taking into account the purpose of the design.

> FYI Korean script (Hangul) is actually an alphabet, so relatively easy to type.

Japanese is typed using kana, though they're syllabaries and have about twice the number of characters as hangul, the end-result is mostly similar (so is the on-the-fly transformative effect, in japanese kana entry is transformed into kanji OTF, in hangul jamo get merged into natsori).

Japanese can be typed as kana, but most people type rĊmaji (Latin characters).

Most people on a computer. Most people type kana on their phone.

Yes, that's true. Japanese is, luckily, a language quite suited to cellphone number pad input.

This article draws some parallels between English and Simplified Chinese fonts:


It's more of a modular syllabary than what most people would think of as an alphabet; while the individual elements are alphabetical in nature, they're grouped into metacharacters that function as syllabics. That difference may not matter much when writing/typing, but it will matter when reading.

Not really. Hangul is perfectly readable linearly letter by letter (where a letter is a sub-element of a block/metacharacter), and the use of the null consonant effectively allows spanning syllables over more than one block, so they need to be read continuously. However, the orthography isn't purely phonemic but rather morpho-phonemic and the morpheme boundaries happen to line up with block boundaries a lot - but in some sense most applications of the Latin alphabet aren't any less abstract; English orthography is anything but consistently phonemic after all. The blocks also aren't purely phonemic, either, since e..g verb conjugation postfixes can often attach a final consonant to a stem's last block.

(My post history has some longer, less dense comments on Korean.)

> Hangul is perfectly readable linearly letter by letter

Here's an example of printed linear Hangul:


Neat :)

I remember there was a "Linear Hangul" movement around the middle of the 20th century or so to do away with the blocks entirely, but it didn't catch on.

I'm kind of glad it didn't because I think the blocks forcing the retainment of more morphological information is actually a really cool trait of the writing system. Basically, you sometimes have multiple options for how to distribute letters over blocks when writing down a word, and the ortography then fairly consistently prefers the variants that keep the same morpheme spelled consistently across different words. It promotes morpheme reuse and makes the writing more LEGO-like.

Purely phonemic spelling is sort of overrated. Hangul lets you write phonetically if you want to (though it's more rigid than Latin because of the block grouping forcing certain consonant/vowel patterns) but for practical use of an established language there's many other concerns.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact