[KS] re uri

Robert Ramsey ramsey at umd.edu
Thu Jun 24 23:26:34 EDT 2010

Dear Ms. Chun (and List),

Thank you for those references; they are useful to linguists (including me).
But I suspect they are not quite what Will was looking for.  Most likely he
was talking about a Korean equivalent of the OED, and on that score he was
absolutely right; there is no etymological reference like that for Korean.

The works you mention may be titled "etymological" dictionaries, but in fact
they are not lists of documented etymologies per se, but rather compilations
of various etymological hypotheses that have been put forward for each
lexical item. The example you cite illustrates well what I mean by that:  In
various sources 우리 has often been compared to the cited Japanese and
Mongolian words, but those connections are completely hypothetical (어원설, in
other words), just as are (at least so far) the comparisons of the Korean
language to Japanese and Altaic (including Mongolian) more generally.   (As
an aside I might mention that the nearest Japanese equivalent to the OED,
the Nihon gokugo daijiten, gives explicit recognition to the hypothetical
status of Japanese "etymologies" by listing and labeling them gogensetsu 語言

I suggest that perhaps a better source along the lines I believe Will is
looking for might simply be the 3-volume Korean dictionary, 표준 국어 대사전
published by the 국립 국어 연구원.  All the historical forms noted there are ones
with solid documentation.  In addition, a very useful resource (though
limited in terms of lexical size) is Lee Ki-Moon's 國語語彙史硏究. The
documentation there is generally impeccable.  Finally I should note that
Professor Lee has been at work on a true Korean etymological dictionary for
a couple of decades now.  He's a bit evasive whenever I ask him when that
volume, which he says now represents his "life's work", might be published.
But when it does appear, I feel confident it will be a quantum leap ahead
toward that reference work we all--including Will--have long been looking

Robert Ramsey

On 6/24/10 7:39 PM, "Kyungmi Chun" <kyungmic at stanford.edu> wrote:

> There are several Korean etymological dictionaries written in Korean.
> One way of finding them is to perform a keyword search for 'Korean
> etymology dictionaries' in FirstSearch (WorldCat). One of the
> dictionaries is:
> Title: Uri mal ŭi ppuri rŭl ch'ajasŏ: Han'gugŏ ŏwŏn sajŏn (Chŭngbop'an)
> Author: Paek, Mun-sik
> Publication: Sŏul Tŭkpyŏlsi: Samgwang Ch'ulp'ansa, 2006
> Its entry for '우리' on page 398 mentions that it is equivalent to
> Hyangch'al 吾里; Japanese wa[我, 吾], ware, udi; and Mongolian uru-q(親戚).
> WorldCat also retrieves an English dictionary of Korean etymology. Since
> Stanford does not own the book, I did not check the contents.
> Title: Studies in Korean etymology (2 vols.)
> Author: Ramstedt, G. J.; Aalto, Pentti
> Publication: Helsinki: Suomalais-ugrilainen Seura, 1949-1953
> Kyungmi Chun
> Korean Studies Librarian
> East Asia Library
> Meyer Library Bldg. 4th Floor
> Stanford University
> Stanford, CA 94305-6004
> Tel.: 650-724-5934
> Fax.: 650-724-2028
> http://lib.stanford.edu/eal-korean
> will pore wrote:
>> Dear List:
>> For the several fine replies I received regarding my inquiry about the
>> Korean pronoun 'uri,' in particular those of Jim Thomas, Ross King and
>> Alison Tokita, I am very grateful for the detailed and useful comments
>> they supplied. While familiar with the similar usage of the inclusive
>> "we" in the unrelated Chinese language and the usages in modern
>> Japanese, the only reply from a list member to mention a lesser known,
>> but, assumedly "related" language's similarity (Mongolian) was by Balazs
>> Szolontai. There is much more, therefore, that I wish I knew. It is
>> truely unfortunate that an etymological dictionary, as far as I know,
>> does not  exist for Korean.
>> In conjunction with my query, and as only an amature historical
>> linguist, I must mention by comparison the outstanding work of the
>> French linguists who long ago investigated and have written intriguingly
>> on such topics as the origin on tones in Vietnamese. According to their
>> research, Vietnamese, historically a non-tonal, Mon-Khmer language,
>> became tonal in about the thirteenth century under Thai influence. There
>> is that and really much more that seems to have been authoratatively
>> investigated about Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian languages than I
>> am aware existing on the many topics on Korean that historians I think
>> should find useful.
>> Regards,
>> Will  
>> -- 
>> William F. Pore
>> Associate Professor
>> Global Studies Program
>> Pusan National University

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list