[KS] James Scarth Gale & Days of the Week

jrpking jrpking at interchange.ubc.ca
Mon Jun 13 18:34:38 EDT 2005

         James Scarth Gale, writing in _The Korea Magazine_ (a missionary magazine he edited from 1917-1919 that is now quite difficult to find) in June of 1918 (pp. 253-255), seems to have anticipated Stefan Ewing???s question on the days of the week in his regular column, "Language study.??? 
	Here is the full text of his short little piece, replete with his usual love of prophecy. The Romanization is his own, popular one (add that to the growing list of Romanization schemes!). His writings from the 1910s and 1920s are an interesting blow-by-blow account of the rapid changes that the Korean language was undergoing due to modernization (dare we say, ???due to colonial modernity????) and contact with Japanese. (As I paste this, the hankul and hanqca show up fine in my browser, but might get zapped in cyberspace).

        "I am asked by a friend to explain the name of the days of the week as Koreans now know them. How did they come about? 
        Sunday         ????????? ????????? 
        Monday        ????????? ????????? 
        Tuesday       ????????? ????????? 
        Wednesday    ????????? ????????? 
        Thursday      ????????? ????????? 
        Friday         ????????? ????????? 
        Saturday       ????????? ????????? 

        The world of the East, through the Chinese character that dominates it, is full of signs and omens pointing with prophetic finger toward something or other that assuredly comes to pass. Chang-yup Chun, the name of the Table House of the Kings, holds in its bosom the secret that twenty-eight kings, and twenty-eight only would rule the land. Bell Hill was the old name of the place where the Cathedral rings out its note today. Carriage Town was also the name of the district where the railway trains shunt, and bump and jostle each other outside the gate. Yang-wha, the sound of which, not the character, means Foreign Death, is the name of the Foreign Cemetery by the River. The East is overflowing with the voices and whisperings that are sooner or later bound to come to pass. 
        In the year 1573 the Ming Government of China gave a special name to the reign of Sin-jong Mal-lyuk (Universal Calendar). Why such a name? The writers doubtless chose it simply as a suitable combination for good luck not dreaming that in nine years' time it would find a peculiar fulfillment in the arrival of Matteo Ricci, the Catholic Father who came bringing what was to be the Universal Calendar (1582 A.D.) of the world, and Western astronomical knowledge. 
        China had evidently known the five planets from far distant ages and had them named long before the Christian era, Mercury, the Water Star (Soo-sung); Venus, the Metal Star (Keum-sung); Mars, the Fire Star (Wha-sung); Jupiter, the Wood Star (Mok-sung); and Saturn the Earth Star (T'o-sung). Thus it came about that the five Roman-Greek divinities had the names of the Five Elements apportioned to them. 
        Later in the forming of the names of the days of the week this order was followed. 
        Our Christian forefathers, it seems, had no special names for these and for lack of better fell into the habit of using the same names as their non-Christian countrymen taken from the divinities of the old Germanic peoples. They called the first day Sunday which has now become translated Il yo il Sun shining-day; Monday, Wul-yo-il, Moon-shining-day; Tuesday, from Tiw, the Scandinavian God of War, corresponding to Mars, Wha-yo-il (fire-shining-day), Fire being Mars' symbol. We see the name Mars still in the French name mardi. Wednesday, or Woden's Day, Woden being the God of storms, corresponding to Mercury, was named Soo-yo-il, Water being the symbol decided on for Mercury. This name still is seen in the French mercredi. Thursday, or Thor's Day, Thor being equal to Jupiter, whose symbol is Wood, was named Mok-yo-il, Wood-shining-day. Friday or Freya's Day, she being the corresponding divinity to Venus, was called Keum-yo-il Metal-shining-day. Saturday still retains its old Roman-Greek name Saturn's Day, and was T'o-yo-il, Earth-shining-day. 
        Hence it comes that we get our names in the following order il, wul, wha, soo, mok, keum, t'o. 
        Do you know them? If not, learn them. The Christians today, in the outlying country districts, say ye-pai-il, ye-pai-i, ye-pai-sam, just as the Christians did in the early days of the church, but assuredly, as the early Christians had to discard these as unsatisfactory, so it will come to pass here and we shall have il-yo-il, wul-yo-il, etc. used just as our names are with us. 
        It is not necessary to add that these names as decided on by the astronomers of the Mings made their way to Japan, and from Japan Proper they now make their way to Korea." J. S. Gale

Ross King
Associate Professor of Korean, University of British Columbia
Dean, Korean Language Village, Concordia Language Villages

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