[KS] 漢文脈 and 英文脈. Comedy in Translation....

ifenkl at aol.com ifenkl at aol.com
Tue Mar 8 15:39:24 EST 2011

Dear Joobia,

Such clunky translations!
I consulted the ghost of Ezra Pound, and here's what he gave me:

Spring grass by the pond, not yet awakened from dreams;
And at the steps, fall sings through the paulownia leaves.


-----Original Message-----
From: Kye C Kim <kc.kim2 at gmail.com>
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Sent: Tue, Mar 8, 2011 10:01 am
Subject: [KS] 漢文脈 and 英文脈.  Comedy in Translation....


-------------------漢文脈 vs 英文脈 and Comedy in Translation  ----------------------------------------------------------

As hard as it would be to believe, I very much had Ms.Smiatacz's "Request to Members" in mind
while sending the "Comedy in Translation" post as the various responses covered the full gamut
of 漢文脈 to 英文脈 as well as illustrating the stages of development of modern Korean out of the 
thousand years fold of 漢文脈 past.

-------------------Comedy in Translation------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
First thing first, I would like to report on the many responses to the "Comedy in Translation" post.

I am embarrassed to admit not have known of the depth of the embarrassment of riches in the 
tradition of comedy and humor in East Asia.

I have been flooded with information about "Japanese humor" "Korean humor" and "Chinese humor,"
from sinologists, japanologists, and koreanists from all over the world.  I am afraid to click the links
for fear that this will be the last time I will see my belly button from laughing too much. Polish jokes, German
jokes(?), Russian jokes, Norwegian jokes etc etc..( some don't do too well under the google translator, sadly...)

I also seem to be a step closer to locating my long lost Chinese humor collection.  It would appear that
it was a translation, from English(most likely into Japanese, then to Korean), of Lin Yu-Tang's books on
Chinese humor. This would make sense as the book was from 100 volumes in World Literature for children,
mostly European.  Apparently the polymath Lin also coined the Chinese term for humor in the 20's

     "Lin's essay "On Humor" was published in "Lunyu" in 1933, but he said he coined the Chinese term
     for humor (youmo 幽默) in the 1920s.."

One reader also sent me the following link to 비즈니스 유머 on Nate.  While not "literature," I think it not
unfair to say all the elements for literature are to be found in these short, funny pieces, despite the fact 
that the quality and the standards are not that of a Ledyard find or a Murakami humor. I think it could 
be a nice resource for Korean language classes.  

Here is the link:

-------------------漢文脈 vs 英文脈 and Comedy in Translation  ----------------------------------------------------------

Now, let me get back to the 漢文脈 vs 英文脈 and the many responses to the "[KS] Request to members."

Below I have collected and numbered the many and indeed varied responses in Korean and English.

There were altogether 11 responses. 1 through 4 would be labeled under 한문맥, while the 5 to 11 would be
under 영문맥.  1 to 4 include the original, transliteration(음역) and various 국한문혼용 in 한문맥. They clearly
preserve the structure of the original and is probably the least intrusive.

While under 영문맥 there are just 2 Korean translations vs 5 English translations, it would not be hard to find
same variability in Korean had we sought out other "Korean" translations. Of course, it was interesting how 
one can "trace" the evolution of modern Korean through the numbered Korean versions, surely  good material
for a class on development of modern Korean.

On the question of 영문맥 label for the Korean translations 5 and 6, I think comparing 한문맥 3 and 4

  미각지당에 춘초 몽하여
 계전오엽이 이추성이라

against 영문맥 5

  연못의 봄 풀은 꿈에서 깨어나지 않았는데 
  섬돌 앞의 오동 잎이 이미 가을 소리니라. 

and another 영문맥 from 9 and 11

 Even while the short dreams of the spring Grasses by the pond are unawakened,(from 9)
 But before the steps, the leaves of the paulonia tree already have the autumn tune.(from 11)

the 2 Korean versions seemed to clearly belong to 영문맥 in structure.  I hope your own careful 
examination of Korean and English versions will serve as elaboration and explanation for my 

I must confess that I have rather reversed the standard meaning of 漢文脈 as used by 
Yanabu Akira with reference to the current constitution of Japan and as 漢文脈 is often
used by other scholars in Korea in characterizing the current constitution of Korea.


Joobai Lee

That the most recent post asks for "Right answer" seemed justified by the clear variability
in the many translations.  However, I have to wonder about the productivity of such self-restricting
approach.  Surely, we shouldn't approach poetry as though it were a multiple choice exam.

--------------------------------------------Original and Translations------------------------------------------------------------

未覺池塘 春草夢
階前梧葉 已秋聲


3:(국한문혼용/ 한문맥)
少年易老하고 學難成하니
一寸光陰이라도 不可輕이라 
未覺池塘에 春草夢하여 
階前梧葉이 已秋聲이라 

4:(국한문혼용 transliteration/ 한문맥 transliteration)
소년이로하고 학난성하니 
일촌광음이라도 불가경이라 

미각지당에 춘초 몽하여
계전오엽이 이추성이라

연못의 봄 풀은 꿈에서 깨어나지 않았는데 
섬돌 앞의 오동 잎이 이미 가을 소리니라. 
연못가에 봄 풀이 채 꿈도 깨기전에
계단 앞 오동나무잎이 가을을 알린다
Spring grass at the pond before I wake up from my dream/
In front of the stairs paulownia leaves are announcing autumn.
Hardly has the grass by the pond woken up from its spring dream
When the parasol trees before the steps begin to sing a song of autumn.
Even while the short dreams of the spring Grasses by the pond are unawakened,
The paulownia leaves growing over the eaves Are lured by the blowing autumn wind.
Before you can catch the dream of spring grasses by the pool,
Already there are sounds of autumn in the leaves below the steps.
They have not yet awakened from the dreams of spring grass around the pond;
But before the steps, the leaves of the paulwonia tree already have the autumn tune.


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