Korea’s Hangeul writing system has won the gold medal at an international contest of world alphabets, organizers said Tuesday.
Hangeul earned the top honor beating India’s Telugu alphabet and the English alphabet at the 2nd World Alphabet Olympics held in Bangkok on Oct. 1-4, according to the organizing committee of the competition in Seoul.
Scholars from a total of 27 countries with their own writing system or using borrowed alphabets from other countries took part in the contest, according to the organizers.
This marks hangeul’s second straight win in the competition following the first in 2009. In the first Olympics held in Seoul, silver and bronze medals went to Greece and Italy out of 16 countries with their own alphabets.
Despite being deeply sympathetic to politico-alphabetic fantasies, I’m drawing a blank in trying to imagine what the events at that Alphabet Olympics might have been. Synchronized Scrabble? Marathon Crosswords? Beach Anagrams? The Korea Times article offers a hint:
Lee Yang-ha, a former Korean ambassador to Lebanon and the chief organizer of the event, says that hangeul is superior to all other alphabets in its ability to convey information in a short period of time.
“While 26 letters of the English alphabet can only express 300 or more sorts of sound, 24 letters of the Korean alphabet can carry 11,000 kinds of sound in theory and 8,700 sorts of sound in practice,” Lee said.
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