[KS] Re: [Fwd: romanization '99]

sangoak sangoak at snu.ac.kr
Fri Jun 18 00:10:12 EDT 1999

semartin at pacifier.com wrote:

I do not see that my description of p t k as being lax (and that is what

the b d g with subscript degree-mark was intended to represent) has
anything to do with using the *letters* "b d g" to represent the
In the languages of the world I do not know of an orthography that has
d g" without also having "p t k", but the reverse situation occurs
(Hawaiian, etc.). If you are representing allophones, as in the McCune-R

system, then fine, you have both sets of letters (and r as well as l) in

complementary distribution. Notice that initial p t k are released
voiceless with light aspiration (voiceless).

On Sun, 13 Jun 1999, sang-oak lee wrote:

> Dear Professor Martin,
> In the process of internal discussion among task forces in the
> Academy of Korean Language, your description of the sound value of p,
t & k
> in "New Korean-English Dictionary" was made good (but bad in fact!)
use of
> advocating 'b, d & g'. A member claimed that your use of voiceless b,
d & g
> with small circles support his choice of b, d & g against Yale system
> well as MR. How do you think about this claim?
> With best wishes,
> Sang-Oak Lee

>samuel.martin at yale.edu wrote:

> I have been checking the mail at my Yale account infrequently and that
> is why I did not answer earlier. I retain the Yale address but you
> will
> find me more accessible at the address semartin at pacifier.com.
> I appreciate your efforts to resolve the never-ending conflicts over
> romanization, but I am afraid you will eventually find the situation
> hopeless. Those devoted to MR will not want to give up its clumsy
> features, even though many never learn to use the system properly.
> Government ukase will not change foreigners' preferences. I found my
> way
> out by developing the Yale romanization, which linguists learn to use
> fairly easily and well. Nonlinguists are distressed that the syllables
> don't sound the way they do in English. Yet they put up with Pinyin
> spellings that are foreign to English. The recommendations of our
> Hawaii
> conference to bring some order to MR seems to be as far as we can go.
> That
> still leaves the unfortunate u-breve and o-breve to plague us by the
> careless dropping of the diacritic and the overly fussy writing of the
> automatic sound changes. Americans have no difficulty pronouncing
> voiced
> [d] for orthographic "t" in certain intervocalic contexts: "latter" =
> "ladder", with a difference of vowel quality heard only from speakers
> of
> certain dialects. They can get used to pronouncing Korean -t- as [d].
> Whether they will be willing to do so is another matter, though less
> unlikely than trying to get them to pronounce [t] for "d".


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