[KS] Present Romanization should be kept - by parasitologist in Korea

Çã¼±(Huh Sun) shuh at sun.hallym.ac.kr
Thu Dec 23 07:10:05 EST 1999

I, as a parasitologist in Korea who perfectly has kept the
present  Romanization, oppose to the revision plan proposed by NAKL(
National Academy of the Korean Language). Since it is not due to any
phonological or linguistic view but due to historical or political
reason in Korean Academic Societies.  

When I first met this system in 1984 as a physician in the Health
Center, I thought that it was perfect to describe Korean 
as Roman characters.  I was quick in learning this system. I enjoyed 
this system when I described the name of regions in Korea.  However, in
my Journal, Korean Journal of Parasitology, the authors did not keep
this system.  I found that this was due to their lack of knowledge and
lack of principle in the instructions to authors.  Therefore, I proposed
to keep the Government's principle in the meeting of Editorial Board in
1994. Members said the it is not necessary since the Government will
soon change the principle. After some discussion, Board accept my
proposal. I guess that it is the first and only Academic Society in
Korea that officially accept present Romanization principle. After that,
the database of my Society contains a name of region according to
present principle.  http://www.parasitol.or.kr/kjp/romaja.html

>From 1997,  NAKL began to announce the direction of the revision of the
present principle. At that time, NAKL accepted the transcription. Now it
announced the  phonetic system modified from present system. How
embarassing it is for me to observe the behaviour of the NAKL.  It would
like to change the present system only after 15 years of use.  Following
are the specific reasons of objection:

1. NAKL said that present system did not represent the characteristics
of Korean. However, it is not Romanization of Korean that is important.
The characteristics of Korean glows when it is written in Hangul.  
Let's think what is the use of Romanization of Korean, the name of
natural monuments, personal or company name are the most important
ones.  In this point of view, Romanization of Korean is perfect at this
time. Every name of district is correct without very few exception. 
There is no confusion in using present system at now.  I could not
understand what is the damage by present system. There is no scientific
evidence of the damage by present system.  Romanization of Korean is not
a linguistic subject, but a only a promise(sign or mark) among peoples
in Korea and other countries.  

For common name such as hand(son) or line( so^n), nobody use this kind
of writing except some linguistics or foreign professionals.  However,
it is another problem whether they use present system or not. NAKL could
not ask them to use any system. Please observe the papers of the
Linguistics published in Korea. Who kept the present system in writing
Korean characters in Roman characters except a few?  

2. The apostrophe(') and pandalypo(^) is said to be difficult in using
computer. However it is the problem of mechanics. If Government ask
Arae-a-Hangul company to make a special keyboard set for Romanization,
it will be solved simply and quickly. For internet, Government should
ask ISO to add special characters o^ or u^.  The Government had not
tried to teach people to use Romanization correctly. The schools from
primary to University, there is absolutely no curriculum which contains
Romanization.  Without any effort for the spreading of the correct use
of Romanization, NAKL began to work on the change of the principle.  If
France prevails the world, there will be no obstacle in using [^] or[ ']
in Romanization, Roman characters does not mean only English. Some
countries had used  several special marks besides of English alphabet.  
Special characters did not prevent Korean developing their country.

3. The focus of the discussion on the revision of Romanization is not a
matter of linguistics but that of politics in the linguistic or
professional societies. Now a days, NAKL and members of committee were
prevailed by the anti-M-R personnels. If pro-M-R personnels enter to
NAKL  and committee  10 or 20 years after,  there will be movement of
new revision to M-R system or transcription. The Romanization of Korean
is not a matter of [sein] but that of [sollen].  To revise or not to
revise is NOT the question in real point.

4. One hundred years after, Korean language can survive in the world?
Now a days a number of languages disappear day by day.  If We would like
Korean Language to be able to survive in this information society, the
Government try to keep the value of Korean and to spread Korean in the
World as one of the most scientific languages in the World.  

It is out of focus to revise the present system. There is not absolutely
any benefit. It may cause further confusion to Korean peoples and to the
World.  If Government revise the present system, scholars or professors
in Korea would not accept the revised  principles since it might be
changed soon.

Professor of Parasitology, Collge of Medicine, Hallym University
Editorail Board Member of the Korean Society for Parasitology


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