Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to type in Korean on a Mac

한글
Given how much digging I had to do to get to the bottom of how to type in Korean (i.e., in "hangul") on a Mac, I thought I'd make a quick summary of how to do it. This'll run you through the basics and a few slightly trickier questions:
  • How do you set up Korean typing?
  • How do you type Korean double letters?
  • When one syllable has no final consonant but the next syllable has an initial consonant, how do you prevent the initial consonant of the second syllable from being treated as the final consonant of the first syllable?
  • How do you turn Korean writing into the corresponding Chinese characters?

How do you set up Korean typing?

  1. In System Preferences, select "Language and Text".

  2. In the "Input Sources" tab, scroll down until you see "Hangul" and check that and make sure "2-Set Korean" is also checked. I didn't check the others because it seems that everyone in Korea uses 2-Set Korean, but feel free to play around with the others if you like.

  3. Make sure "Show Input menu in menu bar" is checked.

    This will add a menu that gives you a bunch of options related to input.

  4. Note what the default input source keyboard shortcuts are or, if you want different ones, modify them as you like. Having a keyboard shortcut to swap between languages is way easier than using the pull-down menu.

  5. When you want to type in Korean, select "2-Set Korean" from the input menu or use the keyboard shortcuts to switch input methods.

  6. 2-Set Korean has certain Korean characters coded to each of the keys on the keyboard. You'll eventually commit these to memory as you type, but while learning, from the input menu, select "Show Keyboard Viewer".

    This will show you which keys correspond to which Korean letters.

How do you type Korean double letters?

Korean has 5 letters that are written as doubled versions of other letters: ㅃ doubles ㅂ, ㅉ doubles ㅈ, ㄸ doubles ㄷ, ㄲ doubles ㄱ, and ㅆ doubles ㅅ. If you pop open the keyboard viewer, you won't see these in there (at least initially). There are two ways to type these letters.

  • The single versions of each of the above letters correspond to the Q, W, E, R, and T keys on a U.S. keyboard. Holding down shift when typing each of those keys will get you the corresponding doubled version.

  • Alternatively, you can simply type the simplified version twice.

When one syllable has no final consonant but the next syllable has an initial consonant, how do you prevent the initial consonant of the second syllable from being treated as the final consonant of the first syllable?

Just keep typing and the software will deal with it for you automatically.

Because no syllables start with a vowel letter, if you type a vowel immediately after a consonant, the software will know that the consonant is the initial letter of a subsequent syllable rather than the final letter or the previous syllable.

The thing that leads to confusion on this is that, as you type, the initial consonant of the second syllable will at first be shown as the final consonant of the first syllable. So, for example, if you're typing 이다 ida (to be), before you add the vowel of the second syllable (ㅏ a), you'll see 읻 it on your screen. Once you do add in the vowel of the second syllable, it'll appear as it should, with ㄷ d moved to be the initial consonant of the second syllable as opposed to the last consonant of the first.

How do you turn Korean writing into the corresponding Chinese characters?

Korean used to use Chinese characters mixed with its own alphabet, much like Japanese continues to do today. Although now Chinese characters are rarely used in Korean, those Korean words with corresponding Chinese characters often have cognates in Chinese and/or Japanese. Thus, knowing the Korean's versions of the Chinese characters (한자 hanja) can be a useful mnemonic if you already know characters in Chinese or Japanese. (Indeed, hanja itself is a good example; the hanja for hanja are 漢字, and it's obviously the cognate of 汉字 hànzì in Chinese and 漢字 kanji in Japanese.)

You'll need to do a little bit of initial set-up before you can make the most of hanja.

  1. Activate the 2-Set Korean input method by selecting it in the input menu or by using your keyboard shortcuts.

  2. While 2-Set Korean is selected, from the input menu, select "Hangul Input Method Preferences".

  3. In the "Editing" tab, change the "Input by" pull-down menu from "Syllable" to "Word". This will allow you to change entire words into their corresponding characters rather than requiring the tediousness of going syllable by syllable (i.e., one character at a time).

Once your set-up's done, getting the characters is simple:
  1. Type the word you want to convert to characters. The word that will be converted to characters will be underlined. Typing a space and doing certain other things will cause the underline to disappear and you'll have to retype it to make it convertible again.

  2. Press option + return. The software will automatically select an initial Chinese character to replace the hangul.

  3. Select the character you want from the drop-down menu. In this case, it's the second one we want, not the one selected by the software.

Alternatively, you can look up hanja using hanja.naver.com; even if you can't understand any of the Korean on the page (which is exactly where I was when I started using it), just put it in the obvious input field, press return, and you should be able to figure out what characters are appropriate based on meaning and phonetic similarity.

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