[KS] Re: Spelling of the name Korea

Henny Savenije adam&eve at henny-savenije.demon.nl
Thu Sep 16 02:34:39 EDT 1999

At 05:31 PM 09/14/1999 , Gari Keith Ledyard wrote:
>         I should have said there is no SERIOUS rationale for the argument
>that it was Japan that was responsible for first spelling "Corea" with a
>"K".  Yes, there is a story that it coveted alphabetical primacy, but it
>is a silly story.  The Japanese were not the first to use this spelling.

I agree totally, the more Western maps I see, the more I am convinced that 
the K stems from Germany, since even on the earlier maps, they tended to 
prefer the K above the C, and the German Cartography came up in the 19th 

>But seriously
>offering this explanation for a phenomenon that occurred in the 1880s, if
>not earlier, is ridiculous.

The only problem here is that most Koreans seriously believe that this is 
the case.

>Even if one insists that the Japanese
>manipulated the media at that time to get the K into dominance, please,
>let us have some attempt at evidence.

Japanese in those days detested the Western people and wouldn't even bother 
to convince them for some frivolous thing as a K coming after the J.

>  It might be worthwhile to note
>that in their official English-language name for Korea, the Japanese
>squelched "Korea" in ANY spelling and insisted on the Japanese form
>Cho^sen, as thousands of publications and maps in western languages from
>the first half of this century attest. Not only did it use this name, but
>whenever possible used its influence around the world do make Western
>publications use this form.  Check out many American maps and mags like
>the National Geographic if you doubt it.  The frivolous theorists might
>note that "Cho^sen" also begins with a C, but the real thing that was
>going on was that the Korean forms "Han," "Han'guk," and "Taehan," which
>had been proclaimed when the Korean kingdom proclaimed itself an empire in
>1896, were being suppressed.  Please don't tell me they did this because H
>came before J.

Right on the nail, no discussion possible

>         Henny Savenije gave a very useful list of early map citations
>yesterday.  The very first spelling to occur on a map, as Henny says, was
>"Conray," in 1568.  I believe the full form was "Costa de Conray."

I think I need reading glasses, since the was indeed written as "Costa de" 
but further on it says "Conrai" furthermore the etymology in general is 
easy, my surname originating from France in a little Village near Nantes 
was Savenay. When my ancestors came to Belgium the surname was still 
written as such (indicating that they came from Savenay) as they were 
living near the language border and most people couldn't read anyway, that 
posed no problem. The pronunciation at the end will have changed to ney (as 
in bey) during the 18th Century Coming to the North of Holland at the end 
of the 18th Century, the name was written as it sounded and changed to 
Savenije, the e due to the Northern "Frisian-Saxon" dialects. Something 
similar will have happened to Corea as well. Since the Dutch had no 
spelling rules at all, it's easy to change something which sounded the same 
as the last form of my last name to something like ea. They tended to catch 
an unfamiliar sounding vowel into something they knew. That others in their 
turn pronounced that completely different, and that became the norm is 
something which can be seen all over Holland. The Roman Ludugnum 
(Batavorum) became Leiden, Mosa Trajectum became Maastricht, Nova Magnus 
Nijmegen, Ultra Trajectum became Utrecht. So the step from Corai, Coray to 
Corea seems a small one.

>this must still be based on the same Japanese form Ko^rai.  It frequently
>happens that it is hard to distinguish cursive written forms for u and n.
>Usually this causes no problem, but if it is a matter of an unfamiliar
>language or word, it can become a source for error.  The Portuguese who
>heard the Japanese form might even have had it written out for him in
>kana, Ko-u-ra-i, which would easily have been iberianized as "Couray."
>But the printer in Lisbon would have had no way to decide, and so set the
>type for "Conray."

Though most scientific correspondence was done in Latin, (with all it's 
complicated grammar) and which was highly formalized, the pronunciation of 
it was definitely not. Also the derivation from Latin to the local 
vernacular was even less formalized. I agree that most written documents 
when printed, gave reason for many mistakes when it concerned unknown 
words, see also the discussion we had about Hamel earlier. Since Corea was 
a common surname it will also be possible that, since that was easier to 
recognize, gave reason to write it like that. Actually the Portuguese 
Jesuits were fluent in Japanese, they knew the hiragana as well. (katakana 
didn't exist yet) katakana was invented when the need was felt that 
hiragana and kanji didn't fulfill the need to write down the introduced 
foreign words. That's why Tempura and most other introduced Portuguese 
words (actually Tempura comes from the Latin Quarter Tempurans, quarter 
times, Friday when the Portuguese ate fried fish) the introduced Dutch 
words however are all written in katakana.

>         It was good of Daniel Bouchez to remind us of Charles Haguenauer's
>early discussions of the old names in his articles on the "Gores."
>Daniel did NOT propose a new form, "Gorea," probably because it would have
>been listed alphabetically ahead of France.  May the gods subject me to a
>thousand torments if anyone ever offers the preceding sentence in a
>serious historical discussion.

I think I will quote you many times .................................

to show how erroneous people can reason, ................

only the rest of the mail however ;-)


Henny  (Lee Hae Kang)

Feel free to visit
and feel the thrill of Hamel discovering Korea (1653-1666)


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