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  • dklskov
  • Waygookin

    • 12

    • September 12, 2013, 08:28:58 am
    • Busan
Korean language is "so scientific"
« on: November 27, 2014, 03:22:35 pm »
I have heard several Koreans tell me that the Korean language is "so scientific" or even the world's most scientific language. With some Korean friends I asked about it, they didn't differentiate between the hangul writing system and the entire Korean language. They simply said that the whole Korean language was so scientific, and they cited (an) article(s) by linguists that they had once read or heard of that argued this claim.

My question: has anyone ever come across any articles by linguists about the scientific quality of the Korean language? A Korean friend sent me a couple URL links about it, but they were just editorials from Korean newspapers, in Korean of course, and I could only make out that they had some name references to linguists and scholars.

Thanks for any enlightening help.


  • terivinix
  • Expert Waygook

    • 695

    • October 19, 2011, 02:20:32 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2014, 04:47:06 pm »
It's kind of a BS claim. While Hangeul was a breakthrough invention that spread literacy to the masses and there is a lot to praise about it, calling it scientific seems misleading.

It may or may not have an interesting anatomical parallel in that the consonants resemble the shape the tongue needs to make to make the corresponding sounds. That could have been intended or coincidence, and there probably have been studies done on that.

But there is no real way to say it was created using scientific methods. It was created in secrecy by Sejong's inner circle of Confucian scholars, not by technicians conducting laboratory tests.


Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2014, 04:54:48 pm »
How can a language be scientific??? Do they mean science uses many Korean loan words? Was the language created in a lab? What on earth does that mean!


  • Space
  • The Legend

    • 2287

    • May 09, 2012, 10:11:12 pm
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2014, 05:38:02 pm »
Some people have the notion that Hangul is the most superior writing system. They have some valid points, mainly ease of use. Add flexibility for other languages with different sounds and structures and Hangul quickly loses most of its merits regarding ease of use. Keep in mind they use Roman script and Chinese script quite regularly to overcome shortfalls of Hangul. Non Korean sounds (they don't have accents anymore) and all the homonyms.
The roman alphabet is used for many languages.

So does universality make a good written language or does ease of use make a good written language? In science, generally the less universal some thing is generally the less superior. Anyway you feel, it's disputable, but not ridiculous to claim Hangul superior.

The idea that the language itself is scientific is based solely on the merits of the written language or a ridiculous claim (barring a lot of reasons that are hard to test).
If I can't choose binary, I'll argue Latin on this simply because scientific nomenclature is in Latin.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Direct from the man who invented Hangeul himself.


  • Redondo
  • Expert Waygook

    • 642

    • October 14, 2012, 05:28:11 am
    • toronto
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2014, 07:52:19 pm »
I don't think you can objectively claim one script is 'better' than others. What is the purpose of a written script? There are too many criteria, and no one script fulfills them all best. Hangul is the simplest and easiest to use. From the perspective of a language learner, there are probably few better written scripts if any.


  • SpaceRook
  • Expert Waygook

    • 814

    • November 18, 2010, 11:54:36 am
    • South Korea
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2014, 08:01:36 pm »
It is scientific in the sense that it is phonetically perfect.  Every letter has a definite sound depending on its context.  Some letters have multiple sounds, but the rules are clear about which sound to use based on the surrounding letters.  This feature greatly helps literacy.  People can study a great deal by themselves. 

But all is not happy in Hangul world.

Hangul does not play well with computers.  In English, you press a button and a letter comes out.  Worst case scenario is you have to decide whether to press SHIFT for a capital.  In Korean, you press a button...and what?  It may take 2 or 3 more button presses before the computer can figure out what the heck you are typing. 

The block structure of Korean makes things like spellchecking and font design very difficult.  To design an English font, you create 62 characters (26 lower case and 26 upper case and 10 digits) and some punctuation.  For Korean....well, I'll just leave this here
« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 08:03:43 pm by SpaceRook »


Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2014, 08:09:32 pm »
The block structure of Korean makes things like spellchecking and font design very difficult.  To design an English font, you create 62 characters (26 lower case and 26 upper case and 10 digits) and some punctuation.  For Korean....well, I'll just leave this here.

 :huh: Holy Mother of Gawd!!  :huh:
Dropbox is the BEST way to coordinate files between home and school. Click here to get it --> https://db.tt/JSMXsrdm


  • Suz-goose
  • Super Waygook

    • 303

    • March 05, 2012, 07:33:45 am
    • Korea
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2014, 01:46:17 am »
The block structure of Korean makes things like spellchecking and font design very difficult.  To design an English font, you create 62 characters (26 lower case and 26 upper case and 10 digits) and some punctuation.  For Korean....well, I'll just leave this here.

 :huh: Holy Mother of Gawd!!  :huh:

Yeah that link was ridiculous! No fonts for you Korea! No font designer deserves that task  :laugh:


Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2014, 08:00:11 am »
Just because a few Korean people ignorantly conflate the ease and logicality of Hangeul with a presumed ease and logicality to the entire Korean language, I don't really think there's any need to blanket that over all Korean people and to get upset about that. 

For every Korean person I've heard say that, I've also heard another Korean person say that Korean is too difficult for foreigners to learn because it was developed in such isolated circumstances, and it presumes too many peculiar ideas about the nature of reality. 

I've also heard idiot ESL teachers say stupid things like, "The fact that English is the most widely learned second language in the world shows what a easy, logical language it is, and how well it lends itself to human communication."  I think such statements annoy me much more.  Um, the British Empire maybe?  How about American cultural and economic hegemony?  No?  Okay, whatever pal.

Oh well, ignorant people exist.  You'll never be able to slap all of them.  Korean is simpler than English in some ways, and English is simpler than Korean in other ways.  No language is absolutely more difficult than another.  It just depends on what your first language is, and how different it is from whatever second language you are trying to learn.


  • HyooMyron
  • Super Waygook

    • 493

    • October 14, 2013, 11:36:39 pm
    • Jinju, S. Korea
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2014, 08:23:05 am »
I've never heard anyone claim that the Korean language is "scientific". As far as the degree of difficulty, almost all Koreans will tell you that it's fairly simple. Characters always make the same sound, etc. So it's always rather silly when you have foreigners who have been living in Korea for a few years and they still can't read Korean. To put it bluntly, it should take a competent person only a few months to learn how to read Korean.


  • dklskov
  • Waygookin

    • 12

    • September 12, 2013, 08:28:58 am
    • Busan
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2014, 08:36:10 am »
Just because a few Korean people ignorantly conflate the ease and logicality of Hangeul with a presumed ease and logicality to the entire Korean language, I don't really think there's any need to blanket that over all Korean people and to get upset about that. 

Who's getting upset? Who's "blanketing that over all Korean people"? The OP was asking for any references or insight into the claim of the Korean language being so/very scientific. And I don't think any of the comments are from people who are upset or making blanket statements about "all" Korean people.


  • zola
  • The Legend

    • 2917

    • September 30, 2012, 06:56:11 am
    • Korea
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2014, 08:42:05 am »
I've never heard anyone claim that the Korean language is "scientific". As far as the degree of difficulty, almost all Koreans will tell you that it's fairly simple. Characters always make the same sound, etc.

You've really never heard anyone say that? I'd heard it within a week of being in country.

Korean language scientifically superior
http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20111215000588

http://www.han-style.com/english/hangeul/science.jsp
Kpip! - Martin 2018


Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2014, 09:08:34 am »
Depends on what you mean by "scientific" and how much of a nationalist Victorian-style essentialist you want to be.

Something interesting discussed in Adam Zamoyski's history of Poland (named "Poland," very creative...) is that even in the late medieval period, vernacular languages like Polish just weren't rhetorically developed enough to be used in philosophy and so on, so educated people would use Latin instead, which had already had a long history of rhetorical complexity. So it wasn't until a Polish literary renaissance that writers consciously changed Polish so that it could express complex ideas better in writing. Basically a modern language that can express complex ideas needs to be able to clearly present a lot of clauses, and use a lot of loaded words like "thus" and "therefore" to move the idea along.

Now, I really don't know anywhere enough Korean to know how developed it is in terms of presenting complex arguments, but it's clearly good enough that Koreans can use it for everything without having to use Chinese for educated elite discussions like they used to (though that was largely a prestige thing, kind of like English usage today and Latin or French usage in Europe back in the day). So, anyway, it would be interesting if the Korean nationalists discussed this rather than just insisting that King Sejong was a G.


  • pkjh
  • The Legend

    • 2065

    • May 02, 2012, 02:59:44 pm
    • Asia
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2014, 09:13:30 am »
Keep in mind they use Roman script and Chinese script quite regularly to overcome shortfalls of Hangul. Non Korean sounds (they don't have accents anymore) and all the homonyms.
Aside from math, and scientific related things, when do they use Roman script to overcome 'shortfalls'? And the Chinese is really not necessary, even with homonyms, any native Korean can figure out the meaning through context, like in English. Chinese is pretty much limited to newspaper headlines these days, and that's just to catch the attention of the reader.


  • Ley_Druid
  • The Legend

    • 2465

    • February 17, 2011, 08:36:33 am
    • Shinan-Gun, Jeollanam-Do, South Korea
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2014, 09:32:06 am »
I have heard several Koreans tell me that the Korean language is "so scientific" or even the world's most scientific language. With some Korean friends I asked about it, they didn't differentiate between the hangul writing system and the entire Korean language. They simply said that the whole Korean language was so scientific, and they cited (an) article(s) by linguists that they had once read or heard of that argued this claim.

My question: has anyone ever come across any articles by linguists about the scientific quality of the Korean language? A Korean friend sent me a couple URL links about it, but they were just editorials from Korean newspapers, in Korean of course, and I could only make out that they had some name references to linguists and scholars.

Thanks for any enlightening help.

There is no independent research that I am aware of. I have heard this many times. My professor at my university, who was head of the Korean language department (Ok, so there were only like four instructors in the department) told us to be wary of this. She said that the reason why Koreans say this is because hangeul appears to be consistant, although she said that it isn't always. She also said that there is a rumor or legend (story without a strong layer of fact) that the shapes in hangeul conform with the shapes one's mouth has to make to pronounce those sounds. Those are the "reasons" for Korean to be scientific. However, if you look at the shapes that are in Chinese characters, you will find that only the humble circle is new. Yet, depending on how sloppy your Chinese is, circles are pretty common in Chinese handwriting.


Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2014, 09:40:58 am »
scientific - adjective
1.
of or pertaining to science or the sciences:
scientific studies.
2.
occupied or concerned with science:
scientific experts.
3.
regulated by or conforming to the principles of exact science:
scientific procedures.
4.
systematic or accurate in the manner of an exact science.

a language cannot be scientific. the premise is false.


  • withmatt
  • Super Waygook

    • 319

    • March 04, 2013, 08:32:24 am
    • Guri
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2014, 09:43:09 am »
The Korean writing system was only developed 500 years ago, which is a much more recent system that a lot of languages that were based on pictograms (like Chinese) or have evolved over time to include grammar and words from other languages (like English).  How can English be "scientific" when it has incorporated words from latin, greek, spanish, german, and dozens of other languages?  There is no way to represent all of those vowel sounds with only 6 vowels unless each vowel has more than one sound. 

Since Korean didn't evolve from anywhere and was a writing system developed solely for the purpose of speaking and writing ONE language, I guess you can say it is "scientific."


Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2014, 09:50:54 am »
I have heard several Koreans tell me that the Korean language is "so scientific" or even the world's most scientific language. With some Korean friends I asked about it, they didn't differentiate between the hangul writing system and the entire Korean language. They simply said that the whole Korean language was so scientific, and they cited (an) article(s) by linguists that they had once read or heard of that argued this claim.

My question: has anyone ever come across any articles by linguists about the scientific quality of the Korean language? A Korean friend sent me a couple URL links about it, but they were just editorials from Korean newspapers, in Korean of course, and I could only make out that they had some name references to linguists and scholars.

Thanks for any enlightening help.

There is no independent research that I am aware of. I have heard this many times. My professor at my university, who was head of the Korean language department (Ok, so there were only like four instructors in the department) told us to be wary of this. She said that the reason why Koreans say this is because hangeul appears to be consistant, although she said that it isn't always. She also said that there is a rumor or legend (story without a strong layer of fact) that the shapes in hangeul conform with the shapes one's mouth has to make to pronounce those sounds. Those are the "reasons" for Korean to be scientific. However, if you look at the shapes that are in Chinese characters, you will find that only the humble circle is new. Yet, depending on how sloppy your Chinese is, circles are pretty common in Chinese handwriting.

Whenever I hear that Korean is scientific, this is what I assume they mean. I haven't studied every language in the world, but in my Korean studies I feel like it's extremely logical and doesn't have the amount of exceptions that English has. I see this especially in the grammar. I like that Korean uses particles to distinguish things from the objective case and the subjective case while English uses word order. It just feels like a puzzle. This may just be me, but I really do enjoy the Korean language. I'm definitely not going to say Korean is the best language in the world (not sure how you would measure that anyway) it appeals to me because it feels like an equation.


  • James89
  • Veteran

    • 108

    • February 04, 2013, 05:14:23 pm
    • SoKo
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2014, 09:56:01 am »
Since Korean didn't evolve from anywhere and was a writing system developed solely for the purpose of speaking and writing ONE language, I guess you can say it is "scientific."

The Korean alphabet yes, but that's a very different thing to the Korean language which is what I think the OP is referring to.


  • wings
  • Adventurer

    • 25

    • June 04, 2013, 07:37:04 pm
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: Korean language is "so scientific"
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2014, 10:02:47 am »
I constantly hear ignorant people talking about how their native lanuage is the best.  My cousin (who speakes only English) goes on at length about the superiority of English for a variety of stupid reasons.  An ESL student of mine once told me that English was very bland and only had a few words for colours where as her language (Korean) had many more.  She was shocked to learn that we also have a lot of words for colours, it was just that she hadn't learned them.  While teaching my students the subtle differences between using going to + verb, or present continuous to talk about the future one of y students told me that he thought English didn't have this level of subtilty, that this was somthing that only Asian languages had....I could go on.

Hangul is a great system - for writing Korean, which is what it was designed for. Other than that I have no idea what people could possibly mean that Korean is "more scientific".