[KS] Kim Il Sung, cunning linguist
Afostercarter at aol.com
Afostercarter at aol.com
Tue Aug 23 04:51:54 EDT 2005
Philologists and others may be tickled by this from today's KCNA.
(The curious g etc are as this appears in the original.)
Who would have guessed that the Great Leader was so exercised
by matters of morphology? (But then Stalin too wrote on linguistics
- or somebody did, under his name.)
For us ignoramuses, could someone kindly explain what was going on
- assuming it's all true - and what was at stake in these debates?
A 6-letter alphabet, for Korean? Even Hawaiian has 12. 10 consonants
at the end of syllables as dastardly imperialism? Enlightenment, please.
Finally, a wry piece from the JoongAng on linguistic misunderstandings
across the DMZ. Is a pan-Korean Grand Dictionary really in the works?
Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds University
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Email: afostercarter at aol.com (alt) afostercarter at yahoo.com website:
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Immortal Feats for Unified Development of National Language
Pyongyang, August 22 (KCNA) -- The compilation of gLarge Korean
Dictionaryh, the first unified dictionary of the national language, is progressing apace
in Korea. Philologists of the Academy of Social Sciences are doing their best
for the work with an ardent patriotism, bearing deep in mind the great efforts
made by President Kim Il Sung to prevent the division of the national
language and achieve its unified development.
Right after the liberation of the country, some fame-seekers "invented" a
six-letter alphabet and distributed prospectus of alphabetic reform. And they
organized a committee for the reform and even made up the new Korean spelling
system. In his historic work gOn the Reform of Lettersh in December Juche
36(1947), the President, with a profound analysis of the obtaining situation, noted
that the letter reform was a very important issue related to the future of
the nation and that the Korean nation was a homogeneous one, which had lived in
the same territory with the same language and letters from olden times. And he
said that if the letters were reformed in the north only with the country
divided into two owing to the occupation of south Korea by the U.S. imperialists
after the liberation, the people in the north and the south could not read
each other's publications and letters and the nation would remain divided in the
During a conversation with Ri Kuk Ro, head of the Korean Linguistic
Association, in the spring of 1949, he stated that the letter reform was a job to be
done only after national reunification.
In his famous work gOn Compiling Korean Grammar Textbook Wellh in May 1950,
he criticized the serious faults of the Korean grammar textbook (written in
1949) and indicated the direction and way for rewriting the textbook, saying
that the part on the unscientific and anti-national six-letter alphabet should
be deleted. In July 1954 he said that the "proposal for simplifying Korean
alphabet" using 10 consonants at the end of syllables made in south Korea under
the manipulation of the U.S. imperialists lacked science and logic and that the
Korean spelling system should be based on the morphological principle without
When meeting a reverend from south Korea at the end of 1980s, the President
made very important remarks concerning the compilation of a dictionary for the
unified development of the national language.
His remarks served as a definite guarantee for linguistic uniformity in the
north and the south.
The compilation of gLarge Korean Dictionaryh is being carried on as an
important work to implement the behest of President Kim Il Sung and to realize the
noble idea of leader Kim Jong Il on achieving great national unity.
The Korean language also needs unifying
by Lee Sang-il
Aug. 17, 2005
On March 17, 2000, when Song Ho-kyung, the vice chairman of North Korea's
Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, met in Beijing with South Korea's then-Minister of
Culture and Tourism, Park Ji-won, he said, "I have come to prepare 'a grave
accident' in the history of our division."
The two were in Beijing for preliminary discussions about the upcoming
inter-Korean summit. Mr. Song's comment completely perplexed Mr. Park, who thought
at first that he was talking about a disastrous incident like the Korean War.
When Mr. Park's facial _expression become rigid, Mr. Song rephrased his
comment. "I meant we should work together to accomplish a historically significant
task." Now Mr. Park understood what he meant. As Mr. Park later recalled the
episode, he thought at first that things were souring.
On June 13 of that year, Kim Jong-il was chatting with then-South Korean
President Kim Dae-jung at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse. The North Korean leader
said, "The schedule has been tense, so the noodles might not taste very
good." President Kim was lost for a moment. He knew Mr. Kim was talking about the
cold noodle soup they were having, but he had no idea that "tense" could mean
"short of time" in North Korea. Kim Jong-il, for his part, later confided to a
Russian diplomat that he could understand only 80 percent of what President
Kim said to him.
When the Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945, the Korean language was
divided too. The gap grew as Pyongyang exploited the language for socialist
purposes. In the South, people adopted foreign words and phrases that diversified the
language. The language barrier between the South and the North has gotten so
high that we sometimes need an interpreter.
When an assemblyman offered some tea to Kim Hye-yeon, a North Korean actress
and defector, she said, "I have no business with it." In North Korea, "I have
no business" means "it won't be necessary." The assemblyman had no idea what
the phrase meant, and thought she was being rude. Ms. Kim must have wished for
an interpreter at the time.
During this week's Liberation Day festivities, Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to
make efforts to unify the standards of Korean writing and speech. The two
Koreas also have decided to rush the joint compilation of the Korean Language
Grand Dictionary. As the North Koreans might put it, they have accomplished a
"grave accident." Once the two Koreas recover the homogeneity of the language,
communication will be much more straightforward and clear, and we will be a step
closer to the recovery of national homogeneity.
The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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