[KS] my comments on the ‘Subject: RR romanization rules and conventions.’

Walraven, B.C.A. B.C.A.Walraven at hum.leidenuniv.nl
Mon Jul 8 22:47:33 EDT 2013

As the discussion goes on, a thought about an earlier comment by Brother Anthony, that it would be to much to sell Koreans the idea that Jeju, the two hangul syllables of which begin with the same letter, should be transcribed with two different letters. I don’t dispute that. But: hangul is a brilliant script exactly because it does not render every phonetic difference, but uses the same sign if the pronunciation depends on the position in the syllable. Anyone who believes that the two consonants in Jeju sound the same fails to understand why hangul is such an efficient script. The comment by Brother Anthony implies that although almost every Korean will claim that hangul is a great script, few people realize why this is so.  I have always thought that if McCR would have been properly explained in schools it would have been a great opportunity to deepen students’ understanding of their own language.

Talking about explaining transcription systems. When RR was introduced a pamphlet was produced to explain its principles. This, however, left out one of the most important points: a detailed explanation of the assimilations one was to make. Two weeks ago I was at a meeting of editors of English-language journals published in Korea, where it was noted that contributors generally do not know how to use either McCR or RR. No wonder. One would almost long for the reinstatement of the old Ministry of Education transcription, which had a one-to-one correspondence with hangul.

Boudewijn Walraven

From: Koreanstudies [mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com] On Behalf Of Sangoak Lee
Sent: maandag 8 juli 2013 17:54
To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com; koreanstudies-request at koreanstudies.com
Subject: [KS] my comments on the ‘Subject: RR romanization rules and conventions.’

Dear all,

Here are some of my comments on the ‘Subject: Re: [KS] RR romanization rules and conventions.’

Since Rudiger Frank said this will be a hot topic for discussion at the upcoming AKSE 2013 conference in Vienna which started on last Saturday, I cannot delay my response any more. l miss you who have shown great interests to this issue and participate in Vienna where Schubert might compose his ‘Unfinished’ Symphony!

Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 3, Tue, 2 Jul 2013

From: Charles La Shure

-----A question asked in May of this year (2013) on the website of the National Institute of the Korean Language regarding the romanization of surnames basically received the answer that people should follow the original RR rules...


[Bold parts by Sang-Oak Lee] This answer (Gang, I, Bak according to RR) in Online ganada by an anonymous irresponsible novice in the National Institute of the Korean Language was wrong. I have to warn them to answer all questions by a responsible expert with his/her real name.

RR system 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. (quted from Ed Rockstein,Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 6, 2 juli 2013)

Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 3, 2 Jul 2013

From: Sophie Bowman

-----Romanization of place names for example should strictly follow the system, however many institutions that use these places do not, thus we get Kyungpook National University in Gyeongbuk province.

[Bold parts by Sang-Oak Lee] This contradiction is caused by RR system in (7) shown above and “(6) Names of geographic features, cultural properties, and man-made structures may be written (by RR) without hyphens” respectively. Also in ”(3) The first letter is capitalized in proper names. E.g. Busan (again by RR). Under the circumstances one should avoid geographic names in making institutional names to solve this contradiction. However, old ‘brand’ names are almost ‘untouchable’ no matter how wrongly ‘Kyungpook’ was made from the better form ‘Kyungbook.’

Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 5, Tue, 2 Jul 2013

From: Richard McBride

-----In fact, just looking at my business cards of scholars shows that few people (if any) follow the RR system as it is explained. People tend to adopt _eo_ or _eu_ in some cases, but not all.—vs.--

My experience has been that for students who do not already know Korean they do not know what to do with _eo_ and _eu_. Most non-Koreans separate the vowels when they read a word written in RR

[Bold parts by Sang-Oak Lee] This trend of disliking RR system in business cards is a solid base that customary writings like Kim & Lee are saved for individuals.

However, in the above statements it is interesting to see that –eo- or –eu- is preferred by some Koreans while –eo- and –eu- are shunned by non-Koreans. This contrast is related to the issue whether the Romanization is for Koreans or foreigners. I myself have been against –eo- and –eu-but many Koreans have been gradually accustomed to this awkward vowel sequences since 2000 (with earlier exposure to these sequences in sixties and seventies).

I will come back later with the second part of this discussion after my own contribution to the ‘Subject: [KS] A new proposal on the Romanization Korean Surnames.’


Sang-Oak Lee

이상억 Sang-Oak Lee/www.sangoak.com<http://www.sangoak.com>
Prof. Emeritus, Dep't of Korean
College of Humanities, Seoul Nat'l Univ.
Seoul 151-745, Korea
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