[KS] RR romanization rules and conventions

Walraven, B.C.A. B.C.A.Walraven at hum.leidenuniv.nl
Tue Jul 2 22:07:07 EDT 2013

One of the persons involved in the drawing up of the rules (sorry, forgot who it was) long ago presented a more noble reason for not regulating the spelling of names, explaining that a democratic state should not prescribe how any individual should transcribe her/his name. And so for Yi, we also have Ie, Reigh, Leigh, Rhee, Li, Lee, Lie, Ree, Rhi, and Ri. Back in 1975 during a discussion about romanisation an eminent linguist stated that it would be absurd to transcribe the same name as “I”. At the time I regretted this, thinking that Yulgok’s name spelled according to the general guidelines: I I, would be the world’s shortest full name, both phonetically and graphically (just 2 strokes!). A missed chance to make the Guinness Book of Records.

Boudewijn Walraven
From: Koreanstudies [mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com] On Behalf Of Dr. Edward D. Rockstein
Sent: dinsdag 2 juli 2013 10:26
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] RR romanization rules and conventions

As some say, "That's the halibut!"  The original RR promulgating document on the internet has long been taken down. The RR system has been neither fish  nor fowl on names since its inception. Charles Muller links to a site as an example in his note and it states: "(7) Proper names such as personal names and those of companies may continue to be written as they have been previously." RR has NEVER spoken authoritatively on person's names or company names--two of the MOST important and frequent general uses for Romanization.

Governments are political entities and, therefore, efforts such as this government-sponsored transcription system avoid the tough issues such as names.  Also it leaves us up in the air as to how we should deal with North Korean usages, for example, in which certain r/l sounds may be retained and pronounced in initial positions.  Having been tangentially involved in assisting with a project which transcribed every entry in both MR & RR, I have wrestled with the same concerns as Charles Muller the past few years. I am afraid that the only answer at this time is that RR, like Schubert's lovely symphony, remains unfinished and the transcriber is left only with the option to go it alone on these issues and try to do it it with consistency.

Ed Rockstein

ed4linda at yahoo.com<mailto:ed4linda at yahoo.com>

"All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary."
George Orwell; Nineteen Eighty-Four; 1949.

From: Charles Muller <acmuller at l.u-tokyo.ac.jp<mailto:acmuller at l.u-tokyo.ac.jp>>
To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com<mailto:koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 12:30 AM
Subject: [KS] RR romanization rules and conventions

Dear Colleagues,

I have noticed in recent articles published by first-tier Korean journals that use RR romanization, the usage of "Yi" to render 이 as a surname (rather than "I" as seems to be stipulated by the Korean government, e.g. http://www.korean.go.kr/eng/roman/roman.jsp).

Having inquired to journal editors who have authorized this rendering, I have basically gotten a response to the effect that this is an exception to RR that is developing as a convention for surnames to avoid confusion. However, these responses so far have been based more or less on hearsay, and no one has been able to provide me with documentation.

As the editor of an online dictionary that uses RR for romanizing Korean terms, I would like to see if I can reconcile the matter in as concrete a manner as possible, so any leads would be greatly appreciated.


-- -------------------

A. Charles Muller

University of Tokyo
Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, Faculty of Letters
Center for Evolving Humanities
7-3-1 Hongō, Bunkyō-ku
Tokyo 113-8654, Japan

Office: 03-5841-3735

Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought


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