As we usually don't recognize the importance of
air, even though language and characters are used every
time of our life, we also don't recognize their importance
enough in many cases. Especially we are not accustomed
to imagining that people who have no proper characters
to express their own language have painful difficulties.
But, before Hangeul was created, our nation
had to suffer those difficulties
Before Hangeul, our ancestors had to use Chinese letters
for enjoying literal life. As like Latin language played
a role of the Ligua Franca in Europe of the Middle age,
Chinese characters and Chinese language acted as the
Ligua Franca not only in Korea but also all around East
Asia including Japan and Vietnam. Considering this,
it was rather natural that our ancestors used Chinese
characters and literary Chinese for their literature
But, it was very hard to dictate our language with Chinese
characters because they were made based on Chinese language
that was totally different from our language.
Therefore, this led to the separation of spoken language
and written language. Usually, it is common that written
language reflects spoken language. In some cases, if
characters have been used for a long time, they might
have independent function, or furthermore the written
and spoken languages might have totally different features
from each other at last. But usually the distance between
spoken and written languages is not too far. However,
the gap between Chinese characters and our language
was too much wide. For this reason, our ancestors had
to make so much effort to learn Chinese letters and
There was an attempt to write our
language with Chinese characters, so-called
writing method with borrowed characters. When our own
proper nouns had to be expressed in texts written in
literary Chinese, Chinese characters were borrowed,
and that was the first sign of generalization of writing
method with borrowed characters. This writing method
with borrowed characters had been developed in various
areas other than writing proper nouns. It is natural
to use one's own language to sing one's feeling sincerely.
And the song may be needed to leave with writings for
a long time.
So the song sung with our language was written
with borrwed Chinese characters, these songs were called
"Hyangga(úÁÊ°)" and the writing
method used was called "Hyangchal(úÁóÎ)".
Also when reading the scriptures of Buddhism and Confucianism,
they were read with pauses at right position, and postpositions
or verbal endings of our own language were attached
to clarify how the preceding and following expressions
It was called "gugyeol(Ï¢ÌÁ)".
Meanwhile, Using Chinese language was general in official
documents of upper class of the nation, but because
the middle class people(ñéìÑ) like petty officials had
not enough skill to use literary Chinese as much as
ruling class, and to clarify the meaning of texts using
postpositions or verbal endings of our own language
was needed, modified Chinese language, with word orders
changed according to Korean rules and grammatical elements
supplemented, was used in official documents of the
low-class officials. This is called ¡°Yidu(ì§Ôæ)¡±.
In this way, the writing method with
borrowed characters was developed and used, but Chinese
characters were incomplete and inefficient characters
to express our own language. First, there were many
words in our language not being expressed easily with
brrowing "eum(ëå, sound)" or "Hun(ýº, meaning)"
of Chinese characters(eg. an onomatope and mimesis)
and because there are multiple "Hun" for one
Chinese character in general, there were not clear cases
which "Hun" should be used to read the Chinese
character used in the writing method with borrowed characters.
Because of these limitations of the writing method with
borrowed characters, as the ruling class had accustomed
to Chinese language, its use had been reduced, and patterns
of expression had become simplified and routinized.