An Early 20th Century Korean Phonetic Alphabet
Received: Jun 23, 2014; Revised: Aug 28, 2014; Accepted: Sep 11, 2014
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
In this paper, we examine early efforts in English language education in Korea, focusing on a student’s glossary of Chinese characters that contains Mandarin Chinese, English, and Japanese glosses of the meanings of each character. This book, the Ahak Pyeon, employs a modified version of the Korean Hangul writing system in order to phonetically render the English words, thereby facilitating the acquisition of English pronunciation for Korean learners. We examine the system proposed in this work in detail, noting issues of phonetic accuracy and clarity and assess it with respect to its suitability as a linguistically-sophisticated phonetic transcription system suitable for the representation of English teaching. In this paper we discuss the principles employed in the Ahak Pyeon to render a reasonably accurate phonetic characterization of the pronunciation of the English words included in the book as well as a discussion of the challenges faced by the developer of the system. We discuss this work in terms of the general adaptability of the original Hangul writing system, the creativity of the revised system, and the potential of this system for developing phonemic awareness among Korean learners of English.