[KS] Dongsung Prize awarded to Robert Ramsey

gkl1 at columbia.edu gkl1 at columbia.edu
Thu Nov 25 13:04:01 EST 2010

I'd like to join in congratulating Bob Ramsey on receiving the  
Dongsung prize. Bob is one of the world leaders in Korean historical  
linguistics and this honor is well deserved.

But there are some points in Rob Provine's message that call for  
comment. While it's true that the Dongsung prize is not widely known  
outside of Korea, it is really not accurate to say that it is "almost  
never" given to non-Koreans. I do not have the latest data on  
recipients, but I do have the first nine newsletters (Sosik) of the  
Dongsung Scholarly Foundation (Dongsung Haksul Chaedan 東崇學術財團), which  
run from 1997 to 2005, listing prize winners.

Out of 55 linguistics prize recipients in that period, (23 42%) were  
foreigners. Aside from the four Russians already mentioned by Lev  
Kontsevich including himself, there are 6 Chinese, 6 Americans  
including this humble list member, 4 in Japan, one in Sweden, one in  
Czechoslovakia, and one in the UK.

Also, while the great majority of recipients are in the Korean  
language and literature field, there were in the same period an  
additional nine prize winners in medical research (completely  
unrelated to analyzing the shapes and movements of speech organs!).  
They are listed right along with the linguistics winners. Apparently  
there is something in the Dongsung rules that requires that single   
exception from linguistics.

 From the same newsletters one learns that there are four separate  
classes of prizes. They are as follows, with the 1997-2005 period  
numbers for each:

동숭학술상 TONGSUNG HAKSULSANG: 11 recipients including two foreigners, our  
late departed colleague Samuel Martin, and Valentina Dmitrieva of  
Russia. This is clearly the highest category.

동숭학술공로(功勞)상 TONGSUNG HAKSUL KONGNOSANG: 24 recipients including 16 foreigners.

동숭학술연구상 TONGSUNG HAKSUL YON'GUSANG: 5 recipients, all in Korea.

동숭학술논문상 TONGSUNG HAKSUL NONMUNSANG: 24 recipients, all in Korea,  
including 9 recipients in medicine.

It would appear that in this first phase of the Tongsung prizes, there  
was in fact a special effort to recognize the achievements of foreign  
scholars in bringing knowledge of the Korean language to a wide  
international audience. It would be interesting to see how the numbers  
play out in the period from 2006 to 2010.

Gari Ledyard

Quoting Robert Provine <provine at umd.edu>:

> Dear Korean Studies:
> A Dongsung Academic Prize (citation & cash award) from the Dongsung
> Academic Foundation in Seoul, Korea, has been awarded to S. Robert
> Ramsey of the University of Maryland.  Not widely known outside Korea,
> the Prize is nevertheless the major award given for distinguished
> scholarly achievements in Korean linguistics (and almost never given to
> non-Koreans).
> Congratulations to Bob!
> Cheers,
> Rob Provine

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