[KS] Romanization systems

Stefan Ewing sa_ewing at hotmail.com
Fri May 27 17:49:56 EDT 2005

*** To the moderator: Sorry, I forgot to include a URL for the article! ***

Hi, everyone:

First of all, to set everyone at ease, this is *not* a request to discuss 
the comparative advantages or disadvantages of various romanization systems.

I have spent many years working with two of the most widely used Korean 
romanization systems (McCune-Reischauer and the 2000 Revised Romanization of 
Korean) and have a love-hate relationship with a third system (Yale 
Romanization).  I have read a fair amount of original source material on 
these and other systems (M's & R's 1939 RASKB paper; the South Korean 1984 
and 2000 Romanization of Korean documents; and Samuel E. Martin's discussion 
of the Yale system in his _Reference Grammar of Korean_), and have also 
pored over the summer 1997 issue of Sae Kugo Saenghwal (the National Academy 
of the Korean Language's quarterly journal), which deals extensively with 
these matters.

After working with and digesting material on all three systems for quite a 
while, I decided to write up what I had learned--in such a manner that it is 
accessible to both lay and (hopefully) academic readers--and publish it 
online.  The result is an article that briefly summarizes the key 
characteristics and differences of the the three abovementioned romanization 
systems, touches on how they handle quirks of Korean orthography and 
pronunciation (though the latter not in the Yale system, of course, except 
for the saissori "q"), and includes a table showing all Hangul consonants, 
vowels, digraphs, and trigraphs rendered in the three systems, broken down 
into initial, medial, and final positions where appropriate.

I humbly request your comments and constructive criticism on the article.  I 
have the wildly unrealistic hope that this article may be used in the future 
as a reliable, quick, online reference to three of the most widely used 
Korean romanization systems.  I'm sure errors or omissions have crept 
in--and I haven't even begun to tackle the way in which McCune-Reischauer 
and the Revised system handle consonantal sound changes--but I would be glad 
to read anything that any of you can point out or suggest.  The article is 
at http://21cseonbi.blogspot.com/2005/05/comparing-romanizations.html (yes, 
it's a weblog).

Stefan Ewing

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