[KS] A new proposal on the Romanization Korean Surnames

Junghee Lee dilj at pdx.edu
Mon Jul 8 20:12:55 EDT 2013


For those of us who teach Korean culture to college students it is a huge
problem.  The students who do not know Korean language cannot find the
materials due to the discrepancies in Romanization in the library,
databases and on the web.  They cannot even look up the articles because
the author's names and momuments (e.g. Seokgulam as opposed to Sokkuram)
are written differently.  This will only make teaching and learning Korean
culture almost impossible.   If there is a link of different systems when
the students look up the Korean terms, that can be helpful.  Now there are
website to show Wade-Gile and Pinyin system side by side on the web.


Junghee Lee

On Thu, Jul 4, 2013 at 2:51 PM, Clark W Sorensen <sangok at u.washington.edu>wrote:

> Dear Carolin,
> While this is an interesting proposal, we should keep in mind that the
> people searching for Korean language materials may not necessarily be
> Korean language speakers (or readers). They may be looking up references
> for somebody else, may be looking up materials that they will have
> translated, and so forth. Bibliographies in most printed materials use
> Romanization. While automation may be convenient, we should keep in mind
> that it is the users for whom libraries have been created, and any system
> devised should be accessible and user-friendly for the largest group
> possible--not just Korean speakers. The McCune-Reischauer system was
> created to enable those who don't speak Korean to be able with only a
> little training to pronounce Korean words reasonably correctly. We should
> keep in mind the uses for which Romanization will continue to be useful.
> Clark W. Sorensen
> University of Washington
> On Thu, 4 Jul 2013, Carolin Dunkel wrote:
>  Dear list members,
>> Let me add a comment from the libraries point of view.
>> Until some years ago, Korean studies materials had to be catalogued in
>> romanization, since the online catalogues could not deal with the original
>> script.
>> The situation is changing, and many cataloguing systems are now able to
>> deal with Hangul and Hancha. Only for technical and organizational reasons
>> we (in Germany) still
>> have to add romanization (MR) in the online catalogues. With the original
>> script in the online catalogues the romanization has become much less
>> important than it used to
>> be before. You can search your Korean books and articles in Hangul now.
>> Another important topic for libraries are authority files, like those
>> from the Library of Congress. Authority files identify a person/author (or
>> institution, …) and give
>> an “official” spelling of the name, that has to be used by all libraries
>> that belong to the system. For Korean names the official romanization
>> system in the LoC is
>> McCune-Reischauer but different spellings are recorded in the file, too,
>> and even the original script.
>> For systems like authority files, and for catalogues, too, a romanization
>> system that allows different spellings for the same word is a big problem.
>> If you want to
>> catalogue a Korean book, or if you want to make an authority file for a
>> Korean author of a Korean book, how can you decide whether it should be Mun
>> or Moon? A romanization
>> system used in contexts WITHOUT original script has to be precise,
>> otherwise it is of no use, at least for libraries.
>> On the other hand, as long as one has the original script along with the
>> romanization, you can rely on the original script.
>> In fact, there is a discussion in German libraries about changing the
>> romanization system from McCune-Reischauer to a more comfortable system.
>> (Maybe the one that was
>> suggested by the Korean government in 1959.) The reason is that we are
>> looking for a romanization that could be done automatically. Since our
>> catalogues can cope with
>> Hangul and Hancha, why should we bother to use the complicated MR with
>> its diacritics and sound assimilations any longer?
>> Best regards
>> Carolin Dunkel
>> --
>> Dr. Carolin Dunkel
>> East Asia Department   Korea Section
>> Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz
>> Potsdamer Str. 33
>> 10785 Berlin
>> Germany
>> Tel: +49 (0)30 266 436 120
>> Fax: +49 (0)30 266 336 001
>> carolin.dunkel at sbb.spk-berlin.**de <carolin.dunkel at sbb.spk-berlin.de>
>>     Gesendet: Donnerstag, 04. Juli 2013 um 11:46 Uhr Von: "Ruediger
>> Frank" <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at> An: "Korean Studies Discussion List"
>> <koreanstudies at koreanstudies.**com <koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com>>
>> Betreff: Re: [KS] A new proposal on the Romanization Korean Surnames
>> Dear Prof. Lee and all, what has been troubling me for years about the
>> whole debate is the seemlingly underlying assumption that romanization is
>> something used in
>> interaction with foreigners, and that "foreigner" naturally means being
>> anglophone. On a bad day, I would even suspect some kind of implicit racist
>> ranking of foreigners
>> (English speakers: important, Hindi: who cares). However, Wikipedia (
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/**List_of_languages_by_number_**
>> of_native_speakers<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers>)
>> tells me that native
>> speakers of English comprise a mere 4.8% of world population, on par with
>> Spanish. Mandarin leads with 12.4%, Arabic comes in fourth (3.2%), followed
>> by other languages in
>> the range of 1-2.x% such as Hindi, Bengali, Portugese, Russian, Japanese,
>> German. It does not seem to bother anyone that "Jong" will be pronounced
>> "yong" in German, and
>> perhaps "khong" in Spanish or "shong" in French (and "yonk" in some parts
>> of Austria).  In my humble opinion, a system makes little sense as there
>> simply is no
>> one-size-fits-all solution. The idea to let individuals make their own
>> choice is thus a smart idea, as they know best what kind of foreigners they
>> will most likely
>> encounter in their lifes.  I am sure this will be a hot topic for
>> discussion at the upcoming AKSE 2013 conference in Vienna which starts on
>> Saturday
>> (http://akse2013.univie.ac.at/**). Those of you who are attending: we
>> look forward to seeing you soon! Those who could not make it: we will miss
>> you! Best regards, Rudiger
>> Frank on Donnerstag, 4. Juli 2013 at 08:46 you wrote:
>> On the Romanization of Korean Surnames    Sang-Oak Lee  (Seoul National
>> University)   The current official system of Romanization adopted by the
>> Ministry of Culture in
>> 2000 states that "surnames are not required to follow the new system."
>> This has created a situation in which long used popular forms, the current
>> Ministry of Culture (MC
>> or RR) system, and the McCune-Reischauer (MR) system are all being used
>> for surnames based on individual preference. The situation has created
>> considerable confusion and
>> the Korean government has asked the ‘SNU team’ to gather opinions and
>> conduct research on the issue with the aim of creating a reasonable system
>> for Romanizing Korean
>> surnames. The issue is particularly important for Koreans who live and
>> work overseas and who work extensively in international fields. Further
>> discussion in
>> Koreanstudies-request will help us a great deal in developing a rationale
>> proposal that could gain quite wide acceptance.   A questionnaire was used
>> to survey the opinions
>> of members of the general public as well as participants in the ICKL
>> Workshop. Examination of the specific content of each question on the
>> survey entitled “Degrees of
>> Preference and Dispreference for the Romanization of Korean Surnames”
>> reveals that the first group of items on the questionnaire were meant to
>> confirm the degrees of
>> preference of the general public regarding the 27 most prevalent Korean
>> surnames. The method employed was to present a Romanized form of each
>> surname as an example, and to
>> determine the form considered most appropriate according to the
>> preferences of the subjects, yet due to length considerations the content
>> of these first question 27
>> questions has been omitted here.  An attempt will now be made to organize
>> the results of the questionnaire concerning Romanized forms. The points to
>> be focused on in this
>> presentation and analysis of the survey are: (1) the degrees of
>> preference about the style of Romanization of sounds such as the onset
>> consonants ‘ㄱ’ and ‘ㅈ,’ the medial
>> vowels ‘ㅓ’ and ‘ㅜ,’ and liquids; (2) the degrees of preference about four
>> proposals; (3) the styles of Romanization already known to Korean and
>> international subjects;
>> (4) the intention of international subjects to use a new method of
>> Romanization; (5) the avoidance of negative word nuance; (6) opinions in
>> support of or against the use
>> of diacritics; and (7) the purposes, standards (etc.) of Korean
>> Romanization.      The degrees of preference regarding an initial ‘ㄱ’ sound
>> indicated approximately 54%
>> approval for the Romanized form ‘K’ and 46% for ‘G,’ confirming a
>> somewhat higher degree of preference for the former. For an initial ‘ㅈ’
>> sound the degrees of preference
>> stood at 79% for ‘J’ and 21% for ‘Ch.’ However, in the case of the
>> surname ‘조’ the degree of preference for ‘Ch’ was relatively higher, with
>> the spelling ‘Cho’ rated at
>> 46% as opposed to 54% for ‘Jo.’ This is considered to be due to the
>> strong influence of spelling conventions for the case of the surname ‘조,’
>> and excluding this
>> particular surname, the total degree of preference for an initial ‘ㅈ’
>> sound came out at about 85% in favor of ‘J.’     For the medial vowel ‘ㅓ’
>> the results of the survey
>> indicated a higher degree of preference for the Romanized form ‘eo,’
>> which received approximately 62% approval in comparison to ‘u’ at 38%. For
>> the medial vowel ‘ㅜ’ the
>> form ‘oo’ was rated higher than ‘u,’ with degrees of preference of about
>> 55% and 45%, respectively. However, if we separate the survey results of
>> Korean participants from
>> those of foreign participants and examine them once again, it is revealed
>> that the proportions of preference for the Romanized form of the medial
>> vowel ‘ㅜ’ are divided
>> according to nationality, with Korean participants choosing ‘oo’ over ‘u’
>> at a ratio of 61:39 in contrast to the ratio of 39:61 for foreigners.
>> Out of all the surnames
>> included in the survey, some of the surnames (노, 유, 이, 임, etc.) involved
>> the representation of liquid sounds, but because the preferences regarding
>> the Romanization of
>> these liquid sounds differed greatly according to particular surnames,
>> the results must be analyzed separately for different names. To begin with,
>> the degree of preference
>> for representing the surname ‘노’ with a liquid consonant (e.g. Ro, Roh)
>> was quite low at 14%, while that for the surname ‘유’ was even lower, with
>> the Romanized form
>> ‘Ryu’ receiving a mere 3% approval rating. In contrast, the degrees of
>> preference for representing the initial sounds of the surnames ‘이’ and ‘임’
>> with a liquid consonant
>> were high, with the preference for ‘Lee’ indicated as 70% and that for
>> ‘Lim’ at 46%. These results are analyzed as being due to the influence of
>> spelling conventions.
>> Regarding the proposed plan to avoid Romanized forms of Korean surnames
>> which share the same orthographic representation as English words with
>> negative meanings (e.g.
>> Bang, Gang), responses indicating opinions of approval took up about 68%
>> of the total. Looking only at the responses of Korean participants,
>> approval for the proposal to
>> avoid these forms rises to roughly 72%. For the surnames ‘노’ and ‘신’
>> which are connected to this problem, the Romanized forms ‘No’ and ‘Sin’
>> received preference ratings
>> of 37% and 36% respectively, figures which are high in comparison to the
>> 32% of responses which indicated that avoidance of these orthographic
>> representations is
>> unnecessary. Accordingly, these results can be analyzed as reflecting
>> that the degrees of preference reported above have no connection to
>> opinions regarding the problem of
>> spelling avoidance.   Approximately 72% of participants indicated
>> opposition to the use of diacritics (e.g. breves, apostrophes).
>> Furthermore, regarding the degrees of
>> preference for the four different forms of Romanization, the 2001
>> proposal of the National Institute of the Korean Language (presented as
>> Proposal #1 on the survey)
>> received approval from about 39% of the surveyed participants, a higher
>> degree of support than for any of the other proposals. This proposal allows
>> for the use of popular
>> forms for some surnames (e.g. Kim, Lee) along with the systematically
>> prescribed forms (e.g. Gim, Yi), and if these points are reflected in the
>> results of the above
>> survey, we can come to the conclusion that the recommended proposal will
>> discourage the use of diacritics while encouraging the appropriate use of
>> popularized Romanized
>> forms for some Korean surnames.   For the survey question regarding the
>> four different forms of Romanization, the most preferred proposal by
>> foreign participants (at 33%)
>> was Proposal #4, which grafts together the MR (McCune-Reischauer) and MC
>> (Ministry of Culture) proposals. However, when asked whether they would
>> consider it acceptable if
>> the Korean government chose a new and somewhat unstructured system of
>> Romanization, based on popular forms and differing from the four presented
>> proposals, it was revealed
>> that only about 54% of foreign participants expressed an intention to use
>> such a system. If this result is taken into account, it can be determined
>> that the recommended
>> proposal for the Romanization of Korean surnames can become widely
>> applied both domestically and internationally only if it espouses a form of
>> Romanization which is both
>> systematic and appropriately in harmony with the existing form of
>> orthographic representation.    When asked which forms of Romanized Korean
>> they were already familiar
>> with, 54% of Korean and foreign participants indicated that they were not
>> familiar with any specific form, while the remaining participants indicated
>> the highest degrees
>> of recognition for the MC, MR and MY (Martin-Yale) proposals, in that
>> order. Despite the relatively short history of the existing proposal, which
>> was established in the
>> year 2000, the fact that it received the highest degree of recognition
>> (at 29%) suggests that the government’s policy has had a correspondingly
>> large degree of influence.
>>   Although this question did not appear on the survey administered to
>> foreign participants, when Korean participants were asked about the purpose
>> and standards upon which
>> their opinions regarding the Romanization of Korean names were based, the
>> most popular response was ‘passport issuance’ at 40%, followed by ‘school
>> instruction’ at 35%.
>> Since these are both connected to activities within the public sphere, it
>> can be taken as a basis for concluding that the government’s policy to
>> propagate a system of
>> Romanization has had a powerful influence. However, it is impossible to
>> say in reality that the government has displayed strong control over the
>> situation based solely on
>> the spread of their system for Romanizing Korean surnames. This is
>> because, as the points referred to below indicate, surnames exist in a
>> domain which is intimately
>> connected to the characteristics and identity of individuals. Thus, if a
>> method of Romanization for surnames is to be established, it cannot be
>> concluded in advance that
>> this method of orthographic representation can be smoothly and easily
>> propagated merely according to the will of the government.   The following
>> proposal has been prepared
>> based on the above survey. It is hoped that this proposal will pass
>> through a public hearing and be officially announced by the Minister of
>> Culture, Sports and Tourism.
>> The Romanization of Surnames (Recommended Proposal)   In the Romanization
>> method which has been in effect since the year 2000, the following
>> stipulations regarding the
>> principles for the Romanization of names should be inserted after the
>> section entitled ‘Item 4 (2) The Romanization of surnames will be set
>> separately.’  (A) The
>> characters ‘ㄱ’ and ‘ㅂ’ will be represented as ‘K’ and ‘B,’ respectively
>> (with the sole exception of Park/박, for which ‘P’ can be used), and the
>> names ‘이’ and ‘조’ can
>> be standardized as ‘Lee’ and ‘Jo.’ The vowels ‘ㅓ’ and ‘우’ can be
>> partially represented as ‘u’ and ‘oo,’ respectively, and popularized forms
>> such as Noh, Lim, Shin, Shim,
>> Ah, Oh, Woo, Woon, Choi will be permitted. [Refer to the Surname
>> Inventory below for details.] (B) Other allowed proposals will be shown
>> parenthetically, with the selected
>> proposal listed first as the main form, and secondarily in parentheses
>> the form represented according to the system of Romanization used prior to
>> the year 2000 (or another
>> representation), so that the relationship between the existing proposal
>> and the popularized representation can be seen. For example: 노무석 No Mu-seok
>> (No Mu-sǒk) or Noh
>> Mu-seok (Ro Moo-suk).  (C) Sound changes that occur in Korean
>> pronunciation will not be reflected in the Romanized forms. For example,
>> even though the actual Korean
>> pronunciation of the name ‘박명일’ can be represented more accurately as
>> ‘Bang Myeong-il,’ the unchanged popularized form of the surname ‘Park’ will
>> be used. Incidentally,
>> a rule has already been previously established to prevent the
>> mispronunciation of the name ‘명일’ as ‘Myeon-gil’ instead of ‘Myeong-il’ by
>> means of an inserted hyphen. (D)
>> With the exception of the cases presented above, any problems that may
>> arise regarding the Romanization of surnames will be settled according to
>> the current system of
>> Romanization. 김 KIM   노 RO or NO   문 MOON or MUN   박PARK 이(李) LEE
>>  이(異) YI      임(林) LIM   임(任)  IM 정 JUNG or JEONG  조 JO  초 CHO
>> etc. --  이상억 Sang-Oak Lee/www.sangoak.com Prof. Emeritus, Dep't of
>> Korean College of Humanities, Seoul Nat'l Univ. Seoul 151-745, Korea

Junghee Lee
Professor of Art History
School of Art and Design
Portland State University
P. O. Box 751
Portland, OR  97207-0751
U. S. A.
leeju at pdx.edu
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