What's up with Google's logo, part 2!

Before, Google made a Korea related logo honoring Nam June Paik, and I covered it on this blog.  For those who are not as knowledgeable about Korea, they might not have gotten the reference.

Well, today’s google logo is much much more obviously Korea related.

Goohane? Huh?

Today, the 9th of October is Hangeul day.  Hangeul day is a day to celebrate the Korean alphabet.

Why should we celebrate the Korean alphabet?

Well, how many languages have an exclusive alphabet?  Not many.  Korean is one of the few languages that can boast such a claim.

Wait a minute, that’s not true, the Greeks have their own alphabet, and so do the Chinese and Japanese!

Well, you might be right about the Greeks, but the Greek alphabet is descended from the Phoenician alphabet. The Japanese and Chinese don’t have alphabets.  

Chinese is written in Chinese Characters, but it’s definitely not an alphabet, nor is it unique, as it’s used all over East Asia.  Furthermore it takes years of study even to be able to read the newspaper, as one must know the meanings of around 2000 characters to be functional.  In addition, there are literally tens of thousands of less frequent characters that sometimes work their way into written script, making true literacy in Chinese extremely difficult without extensive education.  (The process is very rewarding however, and I’m not in any way trying to suggest that Chinese characters are inferior).

Japanese has hiragana and katakana, which are syllabaries, not alphabets, and they mix Chinese characters in there.   Written Japanese mixes all three writing systems, so in addition to about 2000 characters with multiple pronunciations, one must learn 100 other syllabic letters.  (The process of learning Japanese is also rewarding.)

Language learners can easily become functional speakers in Japanese and Chinese a lot easier than becoming functional writers or readers of either language.  (In my case, I can hold my own speaking in Japanese, but I’m practically illiterate because I didn’t study my Chinese characters as much as I should have.)

Hangeul on the other hand was created in the 1400’s specifically because Chinese characers are difficult to learn.  Furthermore, using Chinese characters to write Korean, while possible, is impractical for a society without public education.  King Sejong is credited with creating Hangeul specifically for this reason as it would bring knowledge to the people.  Sure, the elites would still do their writing in Chinese, but now the normal people would also be able to write and record their thoughts.

Hangeul can pretty much be learned in a matter of hours.  If you’d like to learn more about hangeul, one of my dedicated readers made a blog post about it.

Anyway, I think this second Korean related Google logo is clear proof that someone in the Google design team is Korean or is at least extremely interested in Korea.


9 Responses to “What's up with Google's logo, part 2!”

  1. I had no knowledge that is held the day of the Korean script, and has to be all honor to be part of it, I mean, have a separate script, but on this side of Latin America, also you could say that cultures, Maya, Inca , Azteca, Olmeca, had their own writing systems.
    thanks for the info and welcome!

  2. Happy Hangeul day!
    I just found out about this day this week and also did a little post about it on my blog ^.^

  3. I’ve learned that King Sejong created Hangeul to eradicate literacy with easy-to-learned language; but, interestingly, I remember the interviews that some foreigners picked Hangeul as the most difficult language to learn.

  4. Hwang Sun Ju Says:

    I think Hangeul is very a proud thing. And Hangeul is best letter. I hope Hangeul is given publicity.

  5. A few years ago, I saw a famous fashion designer used Hanguel for his new clothes. It was suitable for his design. I think Hanguel can be versatile. That google’s new design proves it.
    How about posting Hanguel’s various fonts next time? It’s my humble opinion.

  6. Wow, I saw this post just now! Thank you for introducing my post 🙂

    I traveled to the United States for about 1 month. While on trip, I didn’t use the internet so much! That’s why I left this comment late..T_T

  7. I’ve written a post on my blog about “the making of hangul” on August. It’s really an intersting story in my opinion.
    I’ll translate it in english as soon as possible. ^.^
    Ah! We have to say that the Korean language is now part of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).

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