[KS] The Origins of the Korean Alphabet

Frank Joseph Shulman fshulman at umd.edu
Fri Aug 30 21:57:36 EDT 2013

The following is the bibliographical entry for Chung's dissertation "The Origins of the Korean Alphabet" that will appear in "A Century of Doctoral dissertations on Korea, 1903-2004: An Annotated Bibliography of Studies in Western Languages", compiled, annotated and edited by Frank Joseph Shulman (forthcoming):

CHUNG, Kei Won  (1902-1986).  
    The Origins of the Korean Alphabet.  Princeton University [United States], 1938 (Ph.D. in Oriental Languages and Literatures).  Chairperson-Major Adviser: Philip K. Hitti.  2, 123, 2p.  DA [Dissertation Abstracts] 12, no.1 (1952): 56 [cited without any accompanying abstract]; UMI [University Microfilms International (Ann Arbor, Michigan) order number] 2928.  
    "Most Koreans", Chung wrote, regard the Korean alphabet as a Korean invention, but no scholar has yet definitely proved its true source". "Some Korean scholars of Chinese assert that it was based on Chinese seal characters", others say that it was derived from the Mongolian alphabet, and yet others state that the Korean alphabet was "modelled on the Sanskrit alphabet". "In taking up the study of Sanskrit, I observed resemblances between the Sanskrit and Korean alphabets. Some similar sounds are represented by similar forms in both. The shape of many letters show similarities and the method of joining letters is exactly the same, the arrangement of the Korean and Sanskrit alphabets is identical, and all of the sounds of the Korean alphabet are to be found in Sanskrit". "Following up these observations, I arrived at results set forth by which I hope to prove the origin of the Korean alphabet". Note: Before pursuing this study, Chung earned the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity [B.Div.] (1934) at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Th.M. (1935) at Princeton Theological Seminary.
    Table of Contents: Introduction. 1. The Composition of the Yi-do. 2. The Development of the Korean Alphabet. 3. The Source of the Korean Alphabet. 4. Sanskrit through Buddhism. 5. The Seal Character Theory. 6. The Aramaic-Mongolian Theory. 7. The Theory of Sanskrit Origin. 8. Expansion of the Sanskrit Alphabet. 9. Consultation with Whang Ch'an. Conclusion. Bibliography: pp.1-2 (2nd set of pages).

Frank Joseph Shulman
Bibliographer, Editor and Consultant for Reference Publications in Asian Studies
9225 Limestone Place
College Park, Maryland 20740-3943 (U.S.A.)
E-mail: fshulman at umd.edu

August 30, 2013
From: Koreanstudies [koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com] on behalf of Bill Streifer [photografr7 at yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 12:20 PM
To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com
Subject: [KS] The Origins of the Korean Alphabet

I've located 1937 Princeton University Ph.D. Thesis entitled "The Origins of the Korean Alphabet" by Chung Kei-won. In addition, I found a letter from the student to the Dean of the College and another letter to the Dean of the College concerning the student's application for a Ph.D. Is anyone aware of this thesis, and might it be worth republishing along with the above letters?

Thank you.

Bill Streifer

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