[KS] RE: Romanisation and Pinyin

Walraven, B.C.A. B.C.A.Walraven at let.leidenuniv.nl
Tue Jun 7 12:30:00 EDT 2005

Perhaps too much has been already been said about the romanisation
controversies, but misunderstandings still flourish.

Charles Muller has already pointed out that contrary to what Rupert
suggests McCune-Reischauer is not at all "hopeless" on the computer; in
fact, there is no problem at all for most users and any problems that
remain for some users are likely to be solved in the not too distant
future. On the other hand I would also take issue with the statement
that McR is easy to learn. I feel that it is worth the trouble, though.

KOR 2000 -different from the old Ministry of Education system- is not a
system based on transliteration. I quote from the brochure explaining
the new system (p. 8): "The basic principles of transcriptions are the
same as in the old [McR] system, in that words are Romanized according
to sound, as opposed to a transliteration system, in which Romanization
would be done according to Korean spelling without regard to
pronunciation." Hence "Silla" and not "Shinla" (p. 7). That makes it a
lot less simple. To Koreans it seems more simple because it has adopted
some features they became familiar with through the system that preceded

Might we summarize the merits of KOR 2000 by saying that it is a system
that makes it simpler for speakers of Korean to make non-Koreans
mispronounce Korean words? (I hasten to add that no system is capable of
making foreigners pronounce Korean perfectly.)

Boudewijn Walraven     

-----Original Message-----
From: Koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws
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Sent: dinsdag 7 juni 2005 4:49
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Gari Ledyard wrote how he is impressed by how easily the Pinyin system
for Chinese has gained broad acceptance. Well, I heard that one of the
motivations for making the new Korean system was the success of Pinyin.
I have been studying Chinese for a while and Pinyin does seem to be
exceedingly good. Also, unlike Koreans, Chinese students learn it -
indeed it has become their 'alphabet'. All the foreign Chinese students
in our school know it. Truly amazing. Of course, Koreans do not really
need such as they have their own alphabet, hence the confusion to
purpose. Accordingly, several systems coexist side by side.

1 Yale - A clever system for linguists. Only used by specialists - no
one else has a clue, yet it is good.
2  MR - A clever system for foreigners based on compromise between sound
and transliteration. Easy to learn but hopeless on computers.
3  KOR 2000 - A simple system for Koreans based on transliteration (not
sound). Useful for computer users. Easy for lifers but confusing to

It seems to be a case of - take your pick ... but who you are will
determine which one you will like. Or, maybe the best version is still
waiting to be discovered.

Rupert Atkinson

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