Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hangul Day: October 9, 2013

Today, October 9th, is Hangul Day here in Korea.  Hangul is the Korean alphabet that was created by King Sejong and published on this day in 1446.  In other parts of the world,  reading and owning books was historically for the wealthy/royal.  But King Sejong wanted a language that all people could easily learn and use.  Every symbol in Hangul (Korean) has a sound, so you can actually learn to read in a matter of hours (if you really really focus). According to the interwebs, South Korea has a literacy rate of 97.9%.  The Koreans are very proud of their alphabet, as they should be.  (Want to know more about Hangul?  Here's a short article published yesterday on The Economist called How Was Hangul Invented?

한글  (Hangul)

Hangul Day was actually removed as a national holiday in 1991, but remained as a national commemoration day.  So the day has continued to be Hangul Day, it simply didn't mean a day off of work.  This year (2013) is the first year since 1991 that Hangul Day has been restored as a national holiday.  Good timing, eh?

On my day off this Hangul Day, I thought it would be fitting to share some of the web resources I used to learn Hangul during my first month here:

Helpful web sites to learn the Korean alphabet

~ J. David Eisenberg's An Introduction to Korean -- Although the site lacks a glamorous look, this was by far my favorite learning resource.  It goes step by step, teaching one or two letters at a time (with audio!), and letting you practice with them before learning more.  Just try it out and you'll see what I mean.  It's perfect for how I like to learn, at least.  (While revisiting the site just now for this link I realized the alphabet was only one of eight sections on this site.  I've got more learning to do here! Yay!)

Learn to read, write, and pronounce Korean -- Used this as a supplement to my first link.  I liked it because it writes English words using Korean symbols, and gives a brief description of the word "eg: A country in Africa".  Then you sound out the Korean symbols until it sounds like an English word.  Kind of fun to figure out each one -- almost like Mad Gab.

Korean Alphabet (Indiana University) -- Each Korean symbol (consonants, vowels, complex vowels) has a tab. Click on the letter to hear it pronounced.  Each tab has words (accompanied by photos) in Korean that contain that letter. Click on the picture to hear the word spoken.  This was a nice resource to double check the sounds (complex vowels especially), and to see (and maybe more importantly hear) some Korean words using the letters I'd just learned.

Linguanaut: The Korean Alphabet -- Descriptions in English about how to pronounce the Korean letters.

Any other useful sites I should add?  Leave a comment!

Happy Hangul Day, all!

레베카 (Rebecca)

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