Mixed-script Korean

This was on the seat in front of me on a recent flight to Korea:

That’s “着度中에는 安全帶를 매십시오” and “救命胴衣는 座度 밑에 있습니다” in case the image doesn’t show up.

This makes me think two things. 1) I really need to practice my Korean typing again. That took way too long to write. 2) This is probably an old airplane. I’m pretty sure newspapers, even conservative ones like Chosun Ilbo (조선일보/朝鮮日報), stopped using mixed-script in the mid-1990s. I certainly never saw it when I lived there with the exception of a 美 or 大 here and there. Planes get used for a really long time, and this one certainly had some thai cosmetic issues to account for years of service.

There are a number of textbooks that include mixed-script texts for the sake of learning hanja, but little else is currently printed in that way. It’s almost too bad. It’s a nice look, and knowing a few more hanja probably wouldn’t hurt anyone. But then it’s not doing a lot for improved literacy rates this way.

8 responses to “Mixed-script Korean”

  1. Karan says:

    I don’t have anything insightful to share, but I would love texts in mixed script Korean with Hangul “furigana” as a learning aid.

  2. Kuiwon says:

    I remember reading as late as 2005, when the orthography was pretty much the same as now, Korea had a lower literacy rate than Japan. At least, today, most people know very basic Chinese characters.

  3. Tony says:

    I’ve studied Chinese, albeit not continuously, for nearly 8 years now and after all that I decided to take on Japanese and Korean. Out of self-study I was able to skip a level and in my first Korean vocab quiz, for the Sino-derived words, I wrote the 漢字 alongside the plain Hangul, as well as the English. My teacher didn’t exactly like that and told me not to do it again :(
    Anyhow, already knowing Chinese while jumping into Korean certainly gives you a good basis to work with. However, I almost feel like knowing Chinese impedes my learning pace because now I just HAVE to know what characters the sino-korean words are, and hence find myself looking up this stuff so often that it slows me down, while all those students who are just now jumping into this east Asian beast of a language as their first have no idea what is behind the Hangul written sino-vocabulary and just learn it as they see it. Anyone else also have this advantage turned disadvantage experience with these 2 languages?

    • Kellen says:

      This was happening to me early on where I found myself having to look up the hanja for everything in order to satisfy my own curiosity. However you’re right, it’s time consuming and not that good in the end. I ended up deciding pretty quickly that if I didn’t already intuitively know the hanja for any given word, it wasn’t worth looking up anyway. Saved me a lot of time in the end.

      • Tony says:

        I agree. However, I will say that I’ve kind of developed an intuitive mapping of sounds for the Mandarin pronunciation of the characters to the Korean and can almost predict (well not really) how a character might be pronounced in Korean. They sound remarkably similar to their Cantonese and Shanghainese pronunciations, minus the tones of course. I’m sure you’ve noticed this as well.

  4. Tom says:

    As a Chinese person, I really wish I could see mixed-script Korean more often. The fact that Chinese-style characters are still used prominently in Japanese allows me to understand written Japanese to a limited extent. The same would hold true for Korean if Chinese-style characters were used whenever possible, but would not be the case if only native characters were used.

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