[KS] Romanisation

Roald Maliangkaij roald.maliangkay at anu.edu.au
Sun Apr 26 06:51:52 EDT 2009

Dear Donald,

Although your last sentence sounds rather undemocratic, probably unintentionally so (or maybe I missed the irony), I really like your example of baseballer Choi. Allow me to add another. A few months ago I was sitting down amid a hundred or so Koreans at Sydney Airport waiting for my flight to Seoul, when the announcer went, "this is the final call for Mr Jeeyoung Seeyoung Kee-an; I repeat... " A hundred or so Koreans laughed, and not because they knew this guy to be notoriously late.

I think we should be allowed to decide for ourselves, but I personally love McC-R. Indeed, the new system is somewhat more suitable for Internet searches generally, but McC-R avoids some very base connotations in English (dung, gook, gut etc.), is somewhat more effective, and to me looks better aesthetically.  

Just my two çents worth...


----- Original Message -----
From: don kirk <kirkdon at yahoo.com>
Date: Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:09 pm
Subject: Re: [KS] Romanisation
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>

| > It's interesting to see so many distinguished scholars on Korea -- I'm not saying "Korean scholars" since that wd imply they're Korean, which few of these learned commentators are. If they were, they'd be sensitive to the reality that nobody outside the groves of academe understands, knows or wants to understand or has any reason to understand or ever will understand "diacritics," either the word itself or what they're all about. So that helps explain a system bereft of your beloved diacritics. Still, to people who write about Korea, it's really difficult getting used to the changes in place names. Luckily, though, the new system no longer uses the spelling, "Choi," which baseball announcers invariably pronounced Choy for a Korean player whose name was really more like Choe or Jae or Jae -- or anything but Choy. (Luckily his career in major league baseball was short-lived, and I believe he's now playing for Kwangju, sorry,Gwangju.)
> The sooner academics lose their love for diacritics, the better off we'll all be -- as the revised transliteration seems to recognize.
> Donald Kirk
> --- On Sat, 4/25/09, gkl1 at columbia.edu <gkl1 at columbia.edu> wrote:
> From: gkl1 at columbia.edu <gkl1 at columbia.edu>
> Subject: Re: [KS] Romanisation
> To: "Korean Studies Discussion List" <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
> Date: Saturday, April 25, 2009, 9:38 PM
> -----Inline Attachment Follows-----
>       It never fails. This list limps along week after week without any
> meaningful Korean Studies discussion while living (if you can call it
> that) on notices about conferences, lectures, and positions available.
> Then somebody pops out of the void with an opinion on romanization and
> boom, we actually have a discussion germane to Korean Studies!
> Romanization seems always to get the juices roiling. While I wish this
> topic were more interesting, it is good to see old friends sounding
> off again.
>       I can understand views like those of Werner Sasse (of course he
> knows what Wade-Giles is all about!!), Eugene Park, Charles Muller,
> and Brother Anthony, to the effect that the South Korean system is
> taking over the internet and the museums (most recently the
> Metropolitan in New York) while Koreans are as allergic as ever to
> diacritics. They all have their individual quibbles with that system
> while stating their various reasons (all of them perfectly sensible)
> for throwing in the McC-R towel and going with the flow.
>       My own position has been that McC-R is the superior system and
> has the most academic legitimacy as well as a distinguished history
> now 70 years long. For the most part, American and European print
> journals have stuck with McC-R. But we all know what is happening to
> print, and it wouldn't be surprising to see more people yielding to
> this different kind of "Korean wave." Whatever happens I will continue
> to use McC-R (or when necessary, the Yale system and especially its
> Middle Korean variant), simply because of the quality of these systems
> and the manifest lack of same in the Korean system.
>       But like Charles, I've never criticized anyone for following their
> particular choice. From the moment I saw that the South Korean
> government's system was going to go into effect, my attitude was
> laissez-faire, including with my students (so long as they used the
> chosen system correctly, and especially that they decided upon a
> principled position on hyphens or not and took care to use intelligent
> word division--avoiding monstrosities like
> "Hunminjeongeum" or "HunminchOngUm"). And I have to say that on
> several occasions when I have submitted materials for Korean
> publication and used McC-R exclusively, the people in Korea have given
> me the same respect. In fact, given the bitterness that sometimes
> broke through in the debates prior to full Korean government
> acceptance, it is to the credit of all that in general we haven't gone
> to war on this issue. Frankly, I see no problem with two systems so
> long as nobody tries to tell me not to use the one I prefer. We've
> lived with this situation for a decade now, and the sky has not
> fallen. If another generation drives one or the other out of existence
> in a natural, laissez-faire manner, so be it. Or if we are forever to
> be stuck with two systems, I can live with that. But I do believe
> sincerely that the South Korean system is poorly imagined and
> seriously distorts, for an average foreigner, the pronunciation of
> Korean words.
> Gari Ledyard
> Quoting Charles Muller <cmuller-lst at jj.em-net.ne.jp>:
> > Werner Sasse wrote:
> >
> >> Sorry, to raise the question of romanisation again...
> >> [...]
> >> However, I have started to stop using McR, and now would advocate
> >> we follow the current system. The only reason is that it actually
> >> seems to become the standard through continuous use, no matter
> >> how ridiculous it makes Korean look like.
> >
> > I also hesitated to rejoin this fray, for obvious reasons, but would
> > like to thank Werner for putting some weight behind the matter of
> > _practicality_, which has been the main force behind my own usage of
> > the new system, going back as far as two years before its official
> > release.
> >
> > My own decision to adopt the Revised Romanization system had to do
> > mainly with the fact that I was trying to develop web resources for
> > Korean and East Asian studies, and the decision between doing this with
> > a breve-less system that would become a national standard (both
> > culturally and technically), or adhering to M-R (which would clearly be
> > out of the picture in terms of Korea-generated resources), was a
> > no-brainer. After adopting RR for my developing my web resources, it
> > just didn't make any sense to use a different system for the rest of my
> > work.
> >
> > Now, more than a decade later, web resources are the first step taken in
> > the process of research by the vast majority of younger scholars, as
> > well as many middle-age and older colleagues. All web resources (and
> > other forms of computer-based tools, including web translators, most
> > Wikis, etc.) are built upon the KSC standard which has the RR system
> > built-in. That means that when you look something up, or have it
> > translated by machine, in almost every case you are going to have it
> > presented in the RR system (I have already heard complaints of
> > frustration from instructors who try to introduce M-R in their courses,
> > while their students see only RR on the web).
> >
> > So even disparaging remarks by senior scholars that have the apparent
> > aim of diminishing the view of the value of works published with the new
> > system will not, I think, be able to stem the tide of change.
> >
> > Despite my long leanings toward the new system, I have never, publicly
> > or privately, criticized the work of any colleague based on the fact
> > that she or he continued to adhere to M-R. So please do allow those of
> > us who choose to use the new system to make our own decision (even if
> > it is not yet recognized by the LOC), and try to pay attention to the
> > content of the work, rather than the romanization system used to render
> > it.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Chuck
> >
> > -------------------
> >
> > A. Charles Muller
> >
> > University of Tokyo
> > Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, Faculty of Letters
> > Center for Evolving Humanities
> > Akamon kenky? t? #722
> > 7-3-1 Hong?, Bunky?-ku
> > Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
> >
> > Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought
> > http://www.acmuller.net
> >
> > <acmuller[at]jj.em-net.ne.jp>
> >
> > Mobile Phone: 090-9310-1787

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