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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:

http://imgur.com/yasWNfW


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.




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