[KS] Variable Romanization of 년(年) in McCune-Reischauer

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Fri Feb 28 00:57:00 EST 2014

A side note (not about the actual sound but the transcription):

The scholar who brought in the "ö" was not a German but an American: 
Homer B. Hulbert.
See e.g. this notation example in a short article from 1896 about 
Arirang and "Korean Vocal Music":

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This is from p. 51 of:
H.B. Hulbert, "Korean Vocal Music," _The Korean Repository_ 3, no. 2 
(February 1896): 45-53.  
See also p. 52 ... online version here:
(Thanks to Rob Provine for pointing me to this article, in a different 

James Scarth Gale also uses "ö" and "ü" -- BOTH times for ? though.

The IPA had "just" then been created but probably not known then to 
Hulbert -- and Hulbert was not a linguist or language scholar in any 
case. It could just be that Hulbert and others use "the next best" 
solution then. For Charles Dallet (1874) as a French native speaker 
that had been "oé" for ? and for Hulbert the sound may simply have 
reminded him remotely of the German "ö" -- doesn't have to mean the 
actual pronunciation he was familiar with -- in Seoul, not Kangw?n-do. 
As seen from a foreign learner of Korean, as Werner pointed out, seeing 
the "ö" and "ü" in textbooks would then have easily created a 
life-long mispronunciation. In my third semester I had the honor to 
participate in a fun "reading course" in Classical Chinese with Werner 
Eichhorn, a Sinologist and religious scholar who was already 86 years 
old at the time (1985). He only accepted three students per course, 
simply because he did not have more chairs in his living room. Eichhorn 
had a very special, rather anarchic way of interpreting the Classics, 
and that did beautifully correspond with his own personal life style 
(he lived unmarried with his girlfriend in the most conservative 
Catholic area one can possibly find in southern Germany) ... but these 
stories aside: he always said, "I don't speak any Chinese, 
unfortunately, that is something for you guys to learn and teach me, 
but my Wade-Giles is not from bad parents!" In this sense ...


Frank Hoffmann

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