[KS] Choson, The land of the morning calm... really?

Mark Byington byington at fas.harvard.edu
Fri Jun 15 22:23:39 EDT 2007

Dear Ernesto,

If one felt it necessary to translate the characters of the name ChosOn 
literally, for their semantic meaning in Chinese, "morning freshness" is 
not far from the mark - at least it is one pleasant-sounding possibility 
among several. However, this is really little more than word play since 
the name, which first appears as early as the fourth century BC, is almost 
certainly a non-sinitic name, rendered by Chinese writers using Chinese 
characters for their phonetic values to approximate the sounds of a 
foreign name (be it a toponym or ethnonym, or something so related). The 
original meaning of this name was probably lost two millennia ago. This is 
important to bear in mind when attempting to "translate" the name into 
English. Of course, during the later ChosOn period, the literati of that 
state may have read more into the name, and for that I defer to those who 
work on that period.

Best Regards,

Mark Byington

On Fri, 15 Jun 2007, Ernie . wrote:

> Dear list members, I just hope this subject has not appear before, but would 
> you agree with the translation of Cho-son as “The land of the morning calm?”, 
> which have been fully accepted since Lowell wrote his famous book in late 
> 1880’s? I lack the knowledge on Chinese language to explain these two 
> characters which form the world Cho-son, but what about changing ‘CALM’ for 
> ‘RADIANCE’ or ‘FRESHNESS’, or even ‘PURITY’ as I’ve some times read?
> Thanks and regards.
> Ernesto, from Madrid
> _________________________________________________________________
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