[KS] Re[3]: Spelling of the name Korea

martin_holman at berea.edu martin_holman at berea.edu
Wed Sep 15 11:15:10 EDT 1999

     Not being a/an historian (see, a literature guy like me doesn't even 
     know which is acceptable), I feel as though I am treading on thin ice 
     when discussing questions of establishing historical "fact." But, 
     golly, I KNOW with all my heart that katakana originated well over 
     half a millenium before the Jesuits got to Japan. We're not talking 
     decades here--the Japanese were using katakana as a mnemonic device 
     for reading Chinese texts as early as 828 (earliest extant document 
     that used katakana) and by the mid-900s were writing native Japanese 
     poetry in katakana (Gosen wakashuu, 955-966).
     One may WISH to believe that the Jesuits insinuated themselves into 
     Japanese society by getting the Japanese to write Portuguese words in 
     hiragana and getting the Japanese to relegate Dutch words to some 
     newly-developed script-for-foreign-words that functioned to ghettoize 
     the poor Dutch in Japanese eyes, BUT by 16th century katakana already 
     had racked up a long working career as a script for representing both 
     Japanese and words adopted from other languages. It was NOT new in the 
     1500s. By then it had been used extensively in many kinds of documents 
     for at least 600 years.
     How, you may ask, can he state the above with such authority? Why, he 
     got up off his duff, WALKED ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREET, and used 
     the Encyclopedia of Japan article "Kana" by Haruo Aoki to confirm what 
     he thought he had heard from Aoki in grad school.
     This Corea/Korea storm has some strange breezes blowing through it. 
     (Could it be the effects of Floyd?) But, really, facts can sometimes 
     be our friends.
     Marty Holman
     Berea College

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[2]: Spelling of the name Korea  
Author:  <korean-studies at mailbase.ac.uk> at berlink
Date:    9/16/99 9:27 PM

At 12:15 AM 9/15/99 , martin_holman at berea.edu wrote:
Martin (the principal of my primary school was called Martin Holman as well
>      >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.
>      ******************************************* 
>      Katakana did not exist yet in the 16th century? Perhaps we should
>      trace the origin of this odd notion? (Maybe it is because "k" follows 
>      "h" in the alphabet, thus suggesting the proper hierarchy of
>      syllabaries.)
Well the textbook I have (packed by now, since we're going to move, so I 
can't quote) said so.
>      By the time of the Jesuits in Japan, katakana had been around for many 
>      hundreds of years. It had been used to indicate the pronunciation of
>      Chinese texts well before the 10th century. It was not invented in 
>      response to the adoption of Portuguese, Spanish, or Dutch words.
As far as I know (and that might not be much) it was invented since there 
was a need to write down words which were not Chinese or Japanese, katakana 
was and is used to write down words stemming from neither
>      Also, some words appear to be missing in the last sentence of the 
>      quoted material above. I hesitate to guess what was omitted.
Sorry, you should add, were written in Kana
Henny  (Lee Hae Kang)
Feel free to visit
and feel the thrill of Hamel discovering Korea (1653-1666)


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