[KS] Re: Enforced Romanization

Adam Bohnet mixoparth at yahoo.ca
Tue Feb 22 16:10:35 EST 2005

With all due respect to Mr. Burgeson, generally
loan-words and standard systems of transliteration are
considered separate issues. As it happens, the Korean
government often does take issue with the poor use of
foreign words. Moreover, a short time spent flipping
through a good English dictionary would allow you to
find plenty of “egregious examples" of the
bastardization of foreign words. Indeed, you would
find examples of Gothic words entering English
via Greek, Latin and French, transforming on each step
of the way. Less dramatically, “apart” (an adverb, by
the way, not an adjective) is from the French “à
part.”Long before Koreans got to it, it had already
lost an accent and been transformed into one word.
Korean use of “Japlish” has nothing on English use of
numerous languages. 

Far from being “self-indulgent,” a standard system of
transliteration is obviously a good thing to have.
Until recently, in my experience, most Koreans
practiced creative transliteration, even, say, on
official web-sites,which hardly made the life of
English speakers easy. The fact that most official
websites, at least, are trying to stay standard is a
huge improvement. McCune Reischauer, on the other
hand, is a system that Koreans in general find very
confusing, reducing the likelihood of them bothering
to use it. It is used irregularly and creatively even
on this list, and I have not once seen any scholar
anywhere use the diacritic marks in an e-mail
(although presumably it is possible); even the use of
capital O or capital U to replace ŏ and ŭ(a
poor solution in itself) does not seem to be that
common. Without diacritic marks McCune-Reischauer is
transformed from a confusing system to an inaccurate
and unusable one. 

We should be glad, in other words, that the Korean
government is taking Romanization seriously. If it is
successful, then we will finally have a widely used
system (minus the North), since, let us face it,
McCune-Reischauer never had a chance. If it is a
failure, then we will have nothing to complain about.
In the meantime, there are much better things to get
upset about.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Bohnet

Message: 2
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 22:19:06 -0800 (PST)
From: "J.Scott Burgeson" <jsburgeson at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [KS] Enforced Romanization
To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
<20050222061907.12927.qmail at web51010.mail.yahoo.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

--- rupert <rupert at aks.ac.kr> wrote:

> Looks like a new bill is being put forward to
> enforece the standardization of romanized Korean -
> even personal names.

While they're at it, they should practice what they
preach and enforce a standardized Han'gulization of
foreign words such as English. Is it "supa" or "syupa"
for "super" ie, "supermarket"? The examples are
endless. The next step would be actually to use
English loan words properly in Korean, many of which
are Koreanized versions of Japlish. The word "apart"
in Korean is in fact an adjective in English used to
refer to a noun (apartment) here. Again, the examples
are endless. Splitting hairs over whether it's "Pusan"
or "Busan" (both are valid but ultimately failed
attempts at rough approximation) seems self-indulgent
and hypocritical to say the least when far more
egregious examples of bastardized English and other
foreign languages abound in Korea...
   --Scott Bug

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