In Korea, the Korean orthography was established by law in 1998 because there are so many possible pronounces in spoken Korean, so the same words can be written in different Korean letter, Hangul. If there were no rule on orthography of Korean, it would be confusing for people to write and read the same words in different notations. For example, the words ‘자장면’ and ‘짜장면’ mean same thing that is the one kind of Chinese noodles.

According to the first provision of Korean orthography rule, there are two principles, which are idealism and opportunism. In other words, idealism aims to the principle that all notations have to be same and unified regardless on which settings on the notation. Opportunism support the assertion that the notation has to follow common pronounces of people. (J., S., Kim, 2008) As a result, the national language deliberation council held a large meeting to modify some rules on Korean orthography as the language has been changed.

However, the modification of the rule depends on discussion of the members of the council, not the real data or not survey investigation which fully meets the sample’s number to figure out the real using pattern of Korean. The project I propose will help the members of council to judge whether a word has to be changed or not by providing real data of use of written language. (Orthography is confined to written language, not spoken language) The data will be from Twitter in Korean for recent 5 years (2010-2014). If it succeeds to figure out the latest pattern of the use of the written language, it will be helpful to the people who decide the rule and the people who use written Korean (Hangul).

Characteristic of Hangul

Hangul is the alphabetic script to write Korean and it was invented in 1443 by King Sejong the Great. It consists of 40 sings which include 10 for simple vowels, 11 for diphthongs and 19 for consonants. shows the consonants and vowels of Hangul.

Fig. 1. Components of Hangul (Hangul alphabet is shown with the McCune-Reischauer transliteration and its phonetic equivalent in the International Phonetic Alphabet between square brackets. (Alejandro Gutman, 2013))

The consonants and vowels are shaped like the appearance of the mouth when people make the sounds. One syllable is made by combining one or multiple consonants with one vowel. shows the way of combination to composite one syllable. C means consonant and V means vowel. In that way, there are 11,172 of possible syllable by using only 24 of alphabets.

Fig. 2. Ways of composition of syllable in Hangul (YuNna Kato, 2015, p.47)

However, Hangul is a phonogram which represents combination of phonemes, so it has the limitation in that same word has different meaning. In other words, there is a problem of homonym. For example, Korean word ‘팔’ means arm, number eight and a verb, sell. As a result, there is a Korean orthography as a law to eliminate confusion from the same words which have different meanings.

Korean Orthography

Korean Orthography consists of four parts – The rules of Korean spelling (한글맞춤법), Korean language standardization (표준어 규정), Loanword orthography (외래어 표기법) and Korean Romanization (로마자 표기법) – and the parts are interactive. Among them, the rules of Korean spelling are the fundamental regulation, so it can be more confusing if the rules are changed. In this context, the rules are rarely modified and the modification is conducted by education ministries. However, naturally, language is changing and the orthography has to follow the change because the purpose of the orthography is to make people’s language life comfortable with less confusion. As a result, Korean language standardization, which contains unified orthography for a word, is deliberated four times in a year by national academy of the Korean language. Therefore, the focus of this project will be Korean language standardization, not the rule itself. In reality, Korean language standardization has been steadily changed and even there are several standard words because the real language of modern people has been changing.

Modification of orthography has various aspects; language education, education policy, the relationship between custom of orthography and new change, efficiency of an orthography and the social cost for the revision of an orthography. (J., H., Lee, 2013) So if the revision could not reflect on real usage of Korean, it would bring huge economic loss. For example the books and documents which had been printed before the revision was decided have to be re-printed according to the new notation way. Not this drastic example, the result of this project will help the members to select the words have to be concerned on the meeting for revision. In addition, the budget assigned to manage Korean orthography is somewhat small (D., R., Lee, 2009), so this project will make the process of revision of Korean orthography more efficient and effective.