The Starcraft 2 Beta is now over (aww yeah son), so I have nothing to do. It did get me into a discussion about Korea and egaming, though. (FYI: jaedong makes $200k a year from SC tournaments.) From there, a discussion about the Korean alphabet, Hangul, which, as it turns out, is pretty simple and elegant unlike this sentence which has a lot of commas.
Hangul has 14 base consonants and 10 base vowels, which are combined in syllabic blocks. In contrast, in the Japanese alphabets (hiragana and katakana), the consonants themselves make up the syllabic blocks because they are paired with a vowel sound. My name written in katakana would be:
Two syllables and a long vowel, pretty straightforward. (The long vowel is there because sunny is a common word and it’s just spelled that way anyway.)
In Hangul, the alphabet is not comprised of syllabic consonants, so Sunny would look like:
Looks a lot more complex, but it’s just as simple if you decipher the characters that it is composed of:
It’s worth noting that they don’t have a system like Kanji either. (Well they did, but they don’t really use it) So the language is a lot more accessible. Which makes sense if you consider its history (via wiki):
Hangul was promulgated by the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty, Sejong the Great. Sejong explained that he created the new script because the existing idu system, based on Chinese characters, was not a good fit for the Korean language and were so difficult that only privileged male aristocrats could afford the time and education to learn to read and write fluently. The vast majority of Koreans were left effectively illiterate.
Hangul, on the other hand, was designed so that even a commoner with little education could learn to read and write: “A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days.”
Edit: fixed thanks to rotifer