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Quantified Grapho-Phonemic Systematicity in Korean Hangeul

Jee, Hana ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6248-9786, Tamariz, Monica and Shillcock, Richard (2023) Quantified Grapho-Phonemic Systematicity in Korean Hangeul. Asian Culture and History, 15 (1).

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Hangeul, the Korean orthography is well known for its scientific design that emphasizes the link between sounds
and letter shapes. However, it hasn‟t been asked so far „how systematic‟ it is. We quantify, for the first time, the
grapho-phonemic systematicity of hangeul. We defined Korean phonemes as binary vectors according to
articulatory features and then measured the pairwise phonemic distance between phonemes using multiple
methods. We measured the pairwise visual distance between letter shapes by (a) stroke share rate, which reflects
the original principles of hangeul‟s creation, and (b) Hausdorff distance (Huttenlocher et al., 1993), which
measures topological difference between images. We then tested the correlation between the phonological
distances and the corresponding orthographical distances. Positive correlations clearly indicated that similar
letters tend to have similar pronunciations in Korean hangeul. Stroke share rate maximizes hangeul‟s
grapho-phonemic systematicity. Hausdorff distance, an initial step in the detailed quantifying of visual distance,
allows similar calculations to be carried out with any hangeul font and with any other orthography (Jee, Tamariz,
& Shillcock, 2021; 2022a; 2022b). Consciously designed to be phonologically transparent, hangeul can be
considered as the gold standard of grapho-phonemic systematicity. We discuss the implications of this

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ach.v15n1p25
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PI Oriental languages and literatures
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/7819

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