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The Wikipedia article on Hangul does not explain how it is typed.

I understand that the 500 or so possible digraphs and trigraphs have been encoded as single unicode blocks, but I would expect that most computer systems would use the 40 individual letters and use a compositing system rather than use unicode encodings. Is that true?

If so, how does it work? Does the typist type just the letters and the computer automatically assembles them into blocks or does the typist have to use control characters to indicate where each letter goes in a block?

One issue I see is that the standard western keyboard has only 26 letter keys, but Hangul has 40 different letters.

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    Try to use a Korean keyboard like the online one here branah.com/korean . You will understand how. For typing Korean you have to use Shift for type some letters. – Hanna Aug 8 '16 at 8:52
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I understand that the 500 or so possible digraphs and trigraphs have been encoded as single unicode blocks, but I would expect that most computer systems would use the 40 individual letters and use a compositing system rather than use unicode encodings. Is that true?

Unicode has 11,172 (not 500) precomposited Hangul syllable code points (starting with 가, 각, 갃, 간 and ending with 힣) in the Hangul Syllables block. Unicode also supports a compositing encoding system called initial-medial-final encoding (첫가끝 코드 in Korean), which uses separate code points for each jamo (자모, like ㄱ, ㅏ, ㅃ) in a syllable, mainly for old Hangul which is not included in the syllables block. But this method is not well-supported in most software, since most Hangul can be encoded with code points in the syllables block. So no, most software uses precomposed syllables instead of composited (johab, 조합).

Before Unicode existed, there was a widely used encoding called EUC-KR which also contained 1,000 or so commonly used syllables (And the rest was filled with Hanja). Uncommon syllables which could not be expressed with this 1,000 were encoded in johab method, but this also was not widely used.

Before initial-medial-final encoding was standardized in Unicode, people used Hanyang PUA (private use area) code to express old Hangul, which encoded commonly used old Hangul syllables each in one code point. This method is now obsolete, but it's still used due to the lack of software support in the initial-medial-final encoding.

If so, how does it work? Does the typist type just the letters and the computer automatically assembles them into blocks or does the typist have to use control characters to indicate where each letter goes in a block?

The typist types the letters (jamos), and the Hangul IME (Input Method Editor), which comes with your OS, calculates the code point corresponding to your typed syllable (which consists of several jamos), and replaces the jamos with that syllable. The IME effectively converts the typed jamos to the pre-composited syllables. So no, no control codes, although 'Sebeolsik (세벌식)' keyboards use different keys for initial and final jamos.

The jamos can be converted to syllables using this formula:

[{(initial) × 588} + {(medial) × 28} + (final)] + 44032

For example, If you want to find the codepoint of “한” in Unicode, ㅎ=18, ㅏ=0, ㄴ=4, so {(18 × 588) + (0 × 28) + 4} + 44032 equals 54620, which converted into hexadecimal is D55C. U+D55C is the codepoint for syllable '한'.

One issue I see is that the standard western keyboard has only 26 letter keys, but Hangul has 40 different letters.

Some letters are typed with multiple key-strokes, e.g. in the Dubeolsik (두벌식) keyboard, ㄲ is shift + ㄱ, ㅖ is shift + ㅔ, ㅙ is ㅗ + ㅐ, etc. This is the standard dubeolsik keyboard.

Once you type with a Korean keyboard, I think you'll understand much better.

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  • Oh, I see. They can use the shift key as a control key to type additional characters because Hangul has no capitalization. – Tyler Durden Aug 28 '20 at 11:19
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You type out the individual letters (jamo) and the IME (a program running on your computer) will intelligently combine them into what it thinks will be the best syllable block.

Example:

I type ㅂㅏㅂ,  it will produce 밥
If I were to add anotherㅏit will produce 바바 instead of 밥 ㅏ

The jamo are processed according to how the language defines it which is all explained in the wikipedia page


This is all refering to the Dubeolsik layout which is the most common

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  • What happens if the syllable block chosen automatically is not the one the author wants? – Tyler Durden Jan 5 '17 at 17:43
  • it depends on how the program was written, some will allow you to remove only the last typed jamo but some remove the whole block – choicehoney Jan 7 '17 at 16:37

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