[KS] Romanisation

BJ joinau at chollian.net
Sun Apr 26 11:52:15 EDT 2009

I promised myself not to read these unsolvable debate’s postings, not to
mention posting one
 but it is really so much at the core of our reality
as researchers/translators/foreigners related to Korea that I can’t
refrain from it!
Personally I was a Mc-R aficionado and I fought for years with my Korean
colleagues who hated the diacritics because it reminded them of the
Thirld-Worldish Vietnamese transcript
 among other things. Then, one
day, as an author of a 600 pages guide book about Korea in French, in
2000, I had to change the transcription of thousands of Korean words and
names for the new edition of the guide
 I got used to the new system,
and couldn’t see anymore the objective reasons why I hated it. On the
contrary, the Mc-R started to look weird to me
 It was worsen by the
fact that, living in Seoul, I am exposed every day to the new system. It
may be easier to scholars living abroad to be stricter.
When participating to academic conferences and writing papers, I have to
switch back to Mc-R
 Because in the academic world, like the
Chosôn/Joseon literati with the hanmun in the past, we love our
 But I am, like many of the readers of this list I am sure,
regularly obliged to cope with this schizogenic situation : when doing
literature or technical translations for the KLTI in French (my mother
tongue : full of diacritics by the way, and we love them
), I am asked
to use the new Romanization system
 Only to come back to the Mc-R one
when attending a conference on
 translation for example! Just to realise
that more and more scholars themselves are lost and use the new system,
or a pidgin of both mixed together

Well, since I managed to speak and read decently Korean over the years,
I guess mastering BOTH transcription systems, as one of you suggested,
is a ‘piece of cake’, and I live with them without bothering. I just
tend to prefer the new system when I write Korean words for foreigners
who don’t speak the language and travel or live in Korea : they would be
completely lost if I used the Mc-R which is not virtually used anymore
on street signalisation, booklets, tourist materials
 It is a little bit
sad in a way that we have to witness this widening gap between the ‘lay
world’ use and the academic use. Not to mention, as someone did, the
DPRK system
 It is, virtually, against our basic goal as researchers
dedicated to broaden knowledge and understanding, not closeting our work
in a schismatic dialect
 even though we could argue endlessly that it is
the fault of the SK ministry in 2000, etc

I guess we chose this schizophrenic situation by not adopting the
official SK system after 2000. There are many reasons for that choice,
well reminded in this forum, so I don’t develop on that. But I am sure
it is really important to remember the conventional aspect of any system
of transcription and not lose too much time discussing it
Ooops! Sorry

Benjamin JOINAU
Yongsan-gu Itaewon-dong 119-28
140-200 Seoul, South Korea
Tel/fax : (822) 795-2465
Cell phone : (82) 11-9905-0696
E-mail : joinau at chollian.net
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