[KS] Re: [Fwd: romanization '99] <fwd>

Robert Ramsey sr1 at umail.umd.edu
Sat Jun 5 14:11:21 EDT 1999

--- Begin Forwarded Message ---
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 10:47:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: Robert Ramsey <sr1 at umail.umd.edu>
Subject: Re: [Fwd: romanization '99]
Sender: Robert Ramsey <sr1 at umail.umd.edu>
To: sangoak <sangoak at snu.ac.kr>
Cc: semartin at pacifier.com, sr1 at umail.umd.edu
Reply-To: sr1 at umail.umd.edu
Message-ID: <SIMEON.9906021015.B at jimenez-10.umd.edu>

Dear Professor Lee,
	Thank you for your message.  It was good to hear from you again; I 
get bits and pieces of news about you from others, but we had not been in 
touch with each other directly for a very long time, and so it was 
especially good to hear from you. I hope you are well.
	I appreciate your asking me for comments on Korean romanization; I 
had already felt a sense of relief some time ago, when I first heard that 
you were the person now working on the draft of a new proposal.  You are  
the language scholar many of us feel to be best qualified for the job.  You 
know the problems and issues from the Korean side, but you also understand, 
particularly well I think, the thinking of Westerners, who are, after all, 
the people most affected by the decisions regarding names and street signs. 
Back in 1983 I was happy and grateful to you for your work on this problem, 
as were most of the Western Koreanists I talked with (though most had not 
then realized that the solutions adopted were yours).  
	My own opinions on the romanization problem are still those a 
number of us expressed back in 1982 in the conference article:  "Report of 
the workshop conference on Korean romanization," Korean Studies 4, pp. 
111-25.  As you probably know, that report was actually drafted by Sam 
Martin, but it expressed well the consensus opinions of all of us who 
	But, to speak directly to your message, I wholeheartedly agree with 
your idea to have a dual system: one based on the principles of MR for 
proper names and street signs, and another more easily adapted to 
mechanization.  Of course, for the latter I would prefer Yale Romanization, 
as, I suspect, you would, too.  We have been using the Yale system 
successfully for a very long time; note, also, that it can accommodate 
historical data, something that is especially important for many of us.  I 
understand that you are constrained in what you can do by a number of 
factors, especially emotional and political ones. But I do think you are 
very much on the right track to strike the very best kind of compromise 
with your bipartite solution.
	Again, thanks for consulting.  And please do stay in touch!
	Bob R.

On Tue, 01 Jun 1999 16:46:50 +0900 sangoak <sangoak at snu.ac.kr> wrote:

> Dear Professors Martin and Ramsey,
> I am sorry that I do not write this message individually but after all
> the contents
> will be the same to both of you.
> As you probably know, we are now in a very critical moment to organize a
> proposal for Korean romanization. I need your high opinion on this issue
> which are outlined in my letter shown below. Also forwarded a
> correspondence
> as an example.
> With my best regards,
> Sang-Oak Lee
> Dear Korean Studies Colleagues:
> Perhaps you may remember the lively discussion on romanization of Korean
> that took place on this list in spring and summer of 1997.  The
> discussion
> was, in fact, initiated by an English student of mine who was taking one
> of
> my advanced Korean language and culture courses at SNU.  In that course,
> I
> introduced the National Academy of the Korean Language's (NAKL) proposal
> for
> a new romanization system.
> Since then, the NAKL's proposal was shelved because of a lack of public
> consensus and uneasiness about the economic crisis in the winter of
> 1997.  The
> problems that caused the NAKL to take a new look at the romanization,
> however, remain, and the NAKL has decided to re-open inquiry into the
> issue.
> I have recently been invited to participate in drafting a new proposal
> and
> would like to solicit the opinions of overseas scholars of Korean
> studies
> throughout the process.
> Before continuing, I would like to make my position clear.  In 1983, the
> National Academy of Sciences (NAS) asked three phonologists to look at
> the
> romanization issue.  At the time, I was the only one who advocated the
> McCune-Reischauer (MR) system.  A slightly modified version of MR was
> adopted as the official romanization in 1984.  Though I supported MR at
> the
> time, I had strong reservations about the use of diacritical marks in
> the
> system.  The inconvenience of diacritical marks and the problems they
> pose
> for computerization were behind the NAKL's efforts to develop a new
> system
> in 1997.  For more information on my views, please see the special issue
> of
> the "Korea Journal" (vol. 22. no. 8) that I edited in 1982 and
> especially
> my article "The Second Best Compromise: The NAS Proposal on Romanization
> of
> Korean."
> Though many of you were unhappy with the way the NAKL handled the debate
> in
> 1997, I hope that this does not dissuade you from offering your advice
> at
> this time.  I would like you to consider the merits of two systems: one
> based on the principles of MR for proper names and street signs, and
> another
> based on a one-to-one correspondence between a Roman and a Han'gul
> letter
> for databases, computer corpora, and other uses where a one-to-one
> correspondence is called for.  For years, Korea has had two systems de
> facto: MR and the 1959 Ministry of Education (MOE) system.  Many people,
> particularly native speakers of Korean, find MR hard to use, wheras
> foreigners
> find MOE hard to pronounce, so we need to go beyond the limitations of
> each of
> these systems.  In particular, I hope that our discussion will lead
> toward a
> break through in which consonants are used in a similar way in both
> systems
> so as to avoid discrepancies such as p:t:k versus b:d:g.  Such a break
> through will help users feel reasonably comfortable using dual systems.
> I
> would also like to hear any other suggestions that you may have.  (In
> making
> your suggestions, please keep in mind, however, that the NAKL is public
> institution and is committed to improving romanization of Korean, so
> maintaining the current system in its entirety is the least desirable
> option.)
> Please feel free to post your comments to the list, or send them to me
> at
> sangoak at snu.ac.kr.  I will use your comments in research reports, so if
> you
> send me private comment, please attach a small note giving me permission
> to
> quote your message in a research report.
> Thank you very much for your help.
> With best wishes,
> Sang-Oak Lee
> Professor of Korean Linguistics, Department of Korean Language and
> Literature
> College of Humanities, Seoul National University
> Tel. (O)82-2-880-6051 (H)82-2-815-7164  Fax. (O)82-2-878-1246
> e-mail: sangoak at snu.ac.kr   sangoak at hotmail.com

Robert Ramsey
sr1 at umail.umd.edu

--- End Forwarded Message ---

Robert Ramsey
sr1 at umail.umd.edu


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