[KS] Re: ICAS Seminar: Presidents of South Korea, September 14,1999,

Gari Keith Ledyard gkl1 at columbia.edu
Mon Sep 13 11:29:00 EDT 1999

In re Corea or Korea, since my name has been mentioned I might as well
recapitulate some earlier discussion on this net.  "Corea" was coined by
Spanish or Portuguese mariners sailing in Japanese waters in the 16th
century, on the basis of Japanese utterings of the Korean name KoryO,
which was pronounced Ko^rai in Japanese.  Although "KoryO" was already a
couple of centuries out of date as a dynastic name, it continued until
recent times to be a common East Asian regional name for Korea (cf. also
the Chinese form, "Gaoli," current in Chinese speech well into the
twentieth century).  Westerners latinized "Korai" into a feminine "Corea,"
and this form was the most common in Western writings down to the 1880s,
which ushered in a few decades in which both "Corea" and "Korea" were
commonly seen.  I have heard it said that the Japanese were responsible
for the change to "K," but I know of no evidence or rationale in favor of
this assertion.  U.S. diplomats started with "C" in 1882 but switched back
and forth throughout the 80s and into the 90s, with "K" gradually
prevailing.  It seems more likely to me that the Japanese went along with
this trend.  I notice that Sugimura Fukashi, Secretary at the Japanese
Legation in Seoul in the 1890s, who wrote his personal diary in English,
used "K", but scores of westerners used it earlier.  
	As to why someone would start using the phrase "Corean-American"
in our own time, who can tell?  Some might feel that C looks cooler than
K.  Others might prefer a Latinate rather than a Germanic look.  Still
others might just like to be different.  No harm done.  People will do
what they want, and in the Anglophone world, there are no academic bodies
lawfully charged with the responsibility to police the language and issue
diktats on spelling.

Gari Ledyard

On Mon, 13 Sep 1999, icas wrote:

> Dear Ms Campana:
> Thank you for the query.  In fact, that is one of the most
> frequently-asked-questions.  I've met many people who seem to know much
> more about the "K" v "C" issue(s)  including Gari Ledyard.  Will any
> person be willing to volunteer to addres on this matter?  Thank you.
> Regards,
> Sang Joo Kim
> http://www.dvol.com/~users/icas
> ---------------------------------
> Andrea Campana wrote:
> > Why Corean-American with C for Korean?
> >
> > ----------
> > > Da: Evensen <executiv at xmission.com>
> > > A: korean-studies at mailbase.ac.uk
> > > Oggetto: Re: R: ICAS Seminar: Presidents of South Korea, September
> > 14,1999, Philadelphia]
> > > Data: domenica 12 settembre 1999 15.54
> > >
> > > The header of the icas email showed it as: Institute for
> > > Corean-American Studies


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