[KS] Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 24

Sangoak Lee sangoak2 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 13 04:06:13 EDT 2013

 "Yi Songgye", should be rendered in RR as "I Seonggye".---No.
According to  RR 3(4)② Romanization of family names will be determined
separately, its correct appllication is still "(Not decided but later)

The reason why the Ministry of C., S. & T. asked me to do a reseach on the
Romanization of Korean surnames in 2011 is to fill the blank above,
i.e.(Not decided but later).

So I surely checked the whole Korean surnames (*185 out of 274, excluding
rarely used or *mistaken surnames in the list of 1985) and made a report
mentioned previously. Considering persistent use of Lee by the common
people (except the stubborn President Rhee and never-popular Yi outside
of books),  I saved Lee than any other existing candidates. Since my
proposal in Sept. 2011, the Ministry has not taken any action because it
is too sensitive issue touching 'surname=keyword of family tradition" to
handle over the period of changing power.

If the goverment could go forward with my proposal, advanced Romanization
of family names in RR will be "Lee Seonggye". There has been no public
presupposition that a different rule is necessary for those historical

*A single rule is better than two to be easily applied to passport or others
 Chuck said "if there are rules that need to be bent, then these should be
documented, and taken up for discussion at the kinds of committees Sang-Oak
Lee is involved with".
>In order to be documented, I made the report of 347 pages irule n
2011.---The "committees Sang-Oak Lee is involved with" was run only in 1999
to prepare 2000 RR (without the rule for surnames).

Gari mentioned  "So only roughly 25% of Korean surnames are up for
spellings." How did you get 25%? Anyway thanks for understanding "great
difficulty devising the romanization solutions that are called for."

I fully agree with those suggestions from the instructors of Korean culture
(I myself have taught this in English over the last 8 years), the
librarians and the compilers of journals including Korean names.

Let us urge together the Ministry to set up the guideline in the near
future not only for Koreans but also for other users.

2013/7/13 <koreanstudies-request at koreanstudies.com>

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> <<------------ KoreanStudies mailing list DIGEST ------------>>
> Today's Topics:
>    1. Romanization of Korean surnames by Sang-Oak Lee
>       (gkl1 at columbia.edu)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2013 23:53:26 -0400
> From: gkl1 at columbia.edu
> To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com>
> Subject: [KS] Romanization of Korean surnames by Sang-Oak Lee
> Message-ID: <20130711235326.2x4gg6gao004s888 at cubmail.cc.columbia.edu>
> Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=EUC-KR; DelSp="Yes";
>  format="flowed"
>    There is a lot of sense in Chuck Muller's comments on the
> romanization issue, and I agree with just about everything he has said.
>    But solutions are hard to find given the real problem: the
> complexity of the Korean language itself. Chinese and Japanese are
> languages for which romanization rules can be straight forward and
> easily understood. In Korean, the relatively large number of discrete
> vowel phonemes, three separate classes of voiceless consonants, and
> complicated consonantal sandhi rules make understanding difficult for
> folks who have had no linguistic training. And even those who
> understand the issues very well have great difficulty devising the
> romanization solutions that are called for. The McCune-Reischauer
> romanization is the only one that has seriously tackled the problem,
> but it left us with the paradox of a solution that just magnified the
> confusion for the Koreans, most of whom can not understand why there
> needs to be more than one equation for some of the Hangul letters:
> they know the rules instinctively, that is, without without being
> aware that they know them. The great majority of them find McR's
> rational solutions baffling. I see no way out of this situation.
>    I feel bad for all the librarians, whose work serves us all and who
> work hard to get things right. Korean romanization is an especially
> challenging problem for them.
>    As for consistency in romanizing distinctive surnames, the present
> project seems to have proposed to do so only for 60-odd surnames. But
> the household census of 1985, carried out in South Korea by the Office
> of Surveys and Statistics in the Economic Planning Ministry lists 230
> distinct Korean surnames. There are 44 additional surnames which each
> have less than 100 individual bearers. All together, that's 274
> surnames known in South Korea as of 1985.* The
> statistical listing is arranged from the most common names to the most
> obscure. The listing from the largest surname population to the
> smallest, and has a distinct provincial/major city breakdown.
> *See 1985? ????? ???:????? ???? ??, ????? ?????, published in December,
> 1987.
>    So only roughly 25% of Korean surnames are up for distinctive
> spellings. If they're going to do it why for only 25%? What are they
> thinking?
> Gari Ledyard
> Quoting Charles Muller <acmuller at l.u-tokyo.ac.jp>:
> > Sangoak Lee wrote:
> >
> >
> >> *7 Jul 2013, Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 15, Prof.
> >> Boudewijn Walraven*
> >>
> >> Recommendation rather than prescription would be my preference.
> >>
> >> *[/Korean government is in between these two but many people ask to
> >> prescribe it to avoid any rejection of entry among the same family
> >> members in the foreign airport because of different romaninzation/.] *
> >
> >
> > Yes, but leaving aside the issue of whether Koreans should be able to
> > write their names as they like (which to me is so obvious, it needs no
> > discussion), there still needs to be a clear orthographic principle as
> > to how names should be transcribed when no preference has previously
> > been expressed.
> >
> > Once again, that's the reason I raised this query to begin with, but
> > somehow it keeps getting dragged into the area of the latitude Koreans
> > should have when rendering their own names. To me, that is somewhat of
> > a non-issue, since it  seems obvious that Koreans should be able to
> > romanize their own names as they like.
> >
> > My concern arises when a first-tier Korean journal (such as Korean
> > Studies) which is supposed to adhere to RR, authorizes the romanization
> > of the name of a 15th century historical figure named ? as "Yi". "Yi"
> > is the well-established MR form of romanization, and ?? is clearly no
> > longer around to indicate his preference. Thus, what would be expressed
> > in MR as "Yi Songgye", should be rendered in RR as "I Seonggye".
> >
> > It seems to me that in these third-person, objective cases where the
> > historical personage has never indicated his or her own preference,
> > then publications that declare themselves to be adhering to RR should
> > either (1) adhere to it, or (2) offer a clear explanation in their
> > style sheets, explaining why they do not adhere to it.
> >
> > At the same time, scholars in Korea who work on the national standards
> > committees (mainly people at SNU and AKS, as far as I can tell) should
> > endeavor to make these rules more explicit, so that people who want to
> > adopt the system can follow the rules precisely.
> >
> > The argument that says "a romanization system is always a work in
> > progress" doesn't work for me. Look at the clear articulation of rules
> > for Pinyin laid out in the appendix of DeFrancis' "ABC Chinese-English
> > Dictionary." Something like this needs to be done for RR. If it has
> > been done, then Korean publications that claim to adhere to it should
> > really do so.
> >
> > In the end, of course, it is usually the case that foreigners end up
> > becoming much more knowledgeable about the application of the
> > romanization system than the locals. I run into very few Japanese who
> > really understand Hepburn--even elite scholars. The same with Pinyin
> > for most Chinese. I recently had a go-around with some people at the
> > National Institute Korean Language regarding the hyphenation rules that
> > they had published, and it was clear to me that the persons with whom I
> > was in contact had little understanding of the actual application of
> > the rules at all.
> >
> > So I'm not asking for any big changes here. Just, if Korea-sponsored
> > publications are going to use RR, or claim to use RR, they should
> > really study it properly and use it. And if there are rules that need
> > to be bent, then these should be documented, and taken up for
> > discussion at the kinds of committees Sang-Oak Lee is involved with.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Chuck
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > -------------------
> >
> > A. Charles Muller
> >
> > University of Tokyo
> > Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, Faculty of Letters
> > Center for Evolving Humanities
> > 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku
> > Tokyo 113-8654, Japan
> >
> > Office: 03-5841-3735
> >
> > Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought
> > http://www.acmuller.net
> >
> > <acmuller[at]l.u-tokyo.ac.jp>
> End of Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 121, Issue 24
> **********************************************

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