[KS] Romanisation

Lauren Deutsch lwdeutsch at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 26 12:20:47 EDT 2009

Pehaps kimchi must be “finally” changed to gimchi first before anything else
is decided. 

At the bottom line, the only constant is to embrace change and it’s consort,

Lauren W. Deutsch
835 S. Lucerne Blvd., #103
Los Angeles CA 90005
Tel 323 930-2587  Cell 323 775-7454
E lwdeutsch at earthlink.net

From: Daniel Corey Kane <dkane at hawaii.edu>
Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2009 10:14:47 -0400
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Cc: Korean Studies Discussion List <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Subject: Re: [KS] Romanisation

Dear List,

 First, coming from a library environment (until recently Korea Collection
librarian at Univ. of Hawaii), to answer one of the queries: there are no
plans in the works to abandon M/R. It would simply be too costly (meaning
time consuming) at this point and things haven't hit that tipping point. As
some have noted, the digital environment has kept pace with M/R and there
are now no really serious impediments to it's usage, as long as one has the
software to read it. Unless you're working with some seriously old (over 3
years) equipment this shouldn't pose a problem.

But the issue goes beyond software/hardware. I frankly find the revised
system easier to use and arguments that it makes Korean look absurd (often
because it mimics English words/names...is this a valid argument??) don't
carry weight. Does English own the word Lee? Lee transcribed into hangeul
would be 리/이 but I wouldn't disparage that by the fact there are no Lees of
Virginia in the jokbo of Jeonju. I also can't grasp the argument that "eo"
or "eu" are confusing and lead to a mangling of the language but somehow "ŏ"
and "ŭ" are intuitive? Anyone with a strong enough interest in Korean would
take the time to learn the correct pronunciation anyway.

I don't want to rehash old arguments and as others have noted I don't think
it would serve much purpose if I did. The fact is that South Korea from what
I have seen has been fairly successful in promulgating the new system
"officially". Of course the person on the street will follow his/her own
tune...no different from M/R there.

Finally, I would not hasten judge M/R's popularity by its use. The Library
of Congress uses it and that carries tremendous pull. For obvious reasons of
practicality, most academic libraries and nearly all public libraries "copy
catalog" bibliographic records of Korean books. So you see public libraries
with Korean materials using M/R. In the end I don't see it as a serious
problem and the debate seems mostly about defending sacred territory.
Chances are that those using/consulting material that has been romanized are
probably enough with both systems to navigate between them without trouble.
As for rendering terms into the two systems, it takes time to learn either

Daniel Kane

----- Original Message -----
From: gkl1 at columbia.edu
Date: Saturday, April 25, 2009 11:33 pm
Subject: Re: [KS] Romanisation
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>

>       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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