Monday, December 14, 2009

Korean text input.

Insanely logical. The Korean keyboard.

Korean Keyboard
Have you ever sat down and thought about how simplistic the setup is? We're talking about a keyboard that originally housed 26 English letters but now logistically houses 한굴. Not bad at all, really.

Not to mention that if I were to type in English a bunch of random letters such as "awfeiojawcneliawefiawn" the English keyboard doesn't discern between consonant and vowel - even though in English we actually do have rules about CV order. For example, a"normal" English word cannot have three vowels back-to-back (unless of course it has a French origin or other language whose rules are different). But in Korean, there are only nine possibilities for a syllable block. But keep cool - your Korean keyboard knows this already. "마여두푲닻ㅁ음ㅇㅏㅣㅁㅊ호허ㅏㅣ" See? I can type randomness and they will neatly find themselves a place - kind of like musical chairs. Also a little like a mild case of OCD...
Korean Syllable Blocks
Cellphones are a different matter altogether though.
korean cell phone button layout
In order to type in Korean, one must input consonants like usual but "draw" out the vowels. Follow me. The brush strokes for the ㅐ vowel involves three lines. First a vertical, then a dot (or small dash), then a vertical.ㅣ - ㅣmakesㅐ.

So to type a simple word like 한국어, one would enter "8" twice (first to get a ㅅ then to get aㅎ) then "1" (to get a vertical line) then "2" (to get a horizontal line) then "5" (to get the ㄴ) then "4" (for the ㄱ) then "3" and "2" (to get the ㅜ one must first get a ㅡ) and "3" again and finally "0" and "2" and "1". Careful not to press "1" then "2" in which case you'll get aㅏ instead of aㅓ.

Confused? It catches on pretty quick. It's pretty ingenious considering the phone can also seamlessly type in English. What I don't know is if Korean cellphones have a form of T9 (predictable text). Anyone want to clarify this?

All things considered, I consider Korean a very logical written language. It is quite neat and organized in my honest opinion. Growing up in an English-language majority environment, Roman letter-based languages (Spanish, Italian, French, etc) don't "scare" me. They just looked different. But with Korean, a whole new "alphabet" is used and from my perspective it looked just as daunting as other East Asian writing systems such as Chinese and Japanese. But now that I have become accustomed to Korean, I feel like I lucked out. Anyone else feeling this? Japanese and Chinese still scare me.