[KS] Is the word "외국인" an instance of "和製漢語"?

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Sat Mar 1 02:30:43 EST 2014

Adding a note to Adam Bohnet's comments:

(1) It may not be "easy" to do so, exactly because of the lack of 
extensive etymological dictionaries, but Scott, if I read your question 
for once as an essay draft, then the problematic point is the 
historiographic accuracy. Of course, what is first, hen or egg? You 
will get to different and more precise questions then better and more 
accurate etymological information you already have and reverse. As an 
example: It seems very essential to draw a distinction between (a) the 
popularity (or lack thereof) of a Sino-Korean term and (b) the new 
introduction of such a term, (c) the invention of a new term (this last 
one not being your topic). Several terms in your list of examples seem 
not to have been introduced by the Japanese to Korea, e.g. sijang 市場, 
but they were certainly popularized during the colonial period. Other 
terms such as misul 美術, where invented during the Meiji period and 
then introduced to both Korea and China in the 1880s. China, in fact, 
adapted quite a number of those late 19th century term inventions from 
Japan, but that seems not exactly a very popular topic in China. These 
are typically the terms that relate to Western technology, science, to 
new political systems and ideologies, bureaucracy, Western-style law, 
but also new "concepts" that restructured and reevaluated already 
existing culture, terms hat often provided different new 
contextualizations. As a result, since with the modernization and 
Westernization process Japan was mostly ahead, many such newly invented 
terms traveled from Japan to Korea and China. Others did not, were 
developed in parallel: 
airplane ->
in Japan/Korea: 飛行機 (ひこうき / 비행기) 
in China:       飛機 (fēijī)
It is therefore very important to always clarify which "group" a term 
belongs to ... was it a neologism, was it a term that existed already 
but was popularized by the Japanese during the colonial period -- *or* 
earlier? If it was popularized by the Japanese, then why did that 
happen? Was it simply a replacement for a purely Korean term or was it 
offering a NEW concept of something already existing, thus shifting the 
meaning of material or ideal culture? I would therefore argue that 
Scott's question would certainly be as much in the territory of the 
cultural and intellectual historian as the linguist's, and that the 
discussion would have to be very "precise" and very "historical," 
taking into consideration the exact historical circumstances (as Adam 
Bohnet already demonstrated). In other words, the "summary" you give 
there, Scott, listing all these terms and *translating" them all as 
terms meaning "foreigners" is probably more in the way of getting to 
meaningful answers (and questions) than being helpful.

(2) Scott wrote:
>> According to Japanese linguists, the word "外國人" was promoted and 
>> popularized during the Meiji period in contrast to the word "内国人" 
>> (lit., "inside country person" or "내국인" in Korean), which was used 
>> to refer to people of the Japanese Empire, including those in Korea 
>> and Taiwan.
The Meiji period lasted until 1912. Taiwan became a colony in 1995, 
Korea became one in 1910. I would find it unlikely that the "counter 
mould" of the term 外國人, which is 内国人, would have included "to 
refer to people of the Japanese Empire" to include Taiwanese and 
Koreans, as 外國人 was used in Japan before the territorial expansion 
of Japan. I think you really talk about the post-Meiji period here.


On Sat, 01 Mar 2014 01:00:48 -0500, Adam Bohnet wrote:
> Hi Scott:
> That sounds like a very interesting topic.
> My ignorant thoughts on the subject:
> I don't know if you have done a Sillok search. Obviously, one has to 
> be careful about drawing too many  conclusions on that basis, but it 
> is really notable that 외국인 appears throughout the Sillok, some 60% 
> of all cases appear during and after the reign of Kojong. k 
> A fairly simple 역사정보통합시스템 search turned up extensive use of 
> the term in the Choson Ch'ongdokpu kwanbo even in 1910-1911. If 
> nothing else, this suggests an institutionalization of the term 
> during the Japanese colonial period. It doesn't give you a smoking 
> gun of whether it is from China or from Japan, I suppose, but if you 
> are looking for the evolution of 외국인 as a standard, that might be 
> a useful place to look.
> In a sense, since the word was well used, but not universally used, 
> before,  I wonder a bit whether it will be possible to trace its 
> origins to either China or Japan. But who knows, perhaps there will 
> be an article in an early newspaper discussing the value of 외국인 
> over 번방. O
> Finally, if I may engage in a bit of quibbling about your list, I 
> notice that in the terms you provide for "foreigner" in various East 
> Asian languages, a substantial number are actually terms generally 
> used for Westerners in particular and not foreigners in general, so:
> 南蛮人, 코쟁이, 洋人" and "洋鬼子.
> I encourage you to broaden your list. If 洋人 is an equivalent to 외국
> 인, then so is 胡人.
> Alternately, perhaps you are interested in the process by which the 
> typical 외국인 in popular consciousness became a Westerner (perhaps 
> slapping his father's back and saying, "hey man"). That is also an 
> interesting topic, but from your brief e-mail it isn't clear if you 
> are discussing the changes in methods for referring to foreigners or 
> to Westerners. I am sure that according to the Chosen Governor 
> General, a Chinese person would have been a 외국인, but probably 
> would not have been a 코쟁이 to the Koreans who encountered him or 
> her (unless the Chinese person was blessed with an enormous nose).
>   Finally, I am not a Koryo/Yuan expert, but my understanding of 색목
> 인 色目人 ("people of the various categories") has a very strong 
> legalistic meaning indeed. Indeed, it is a legal and administrative 
> category of the Yuan empire, and really probably isn't to be 
> understood as in anyway equivalent to 외국인, as 색목인 were not, of 
> course, outsiders to the Yuan empire, but one category of subjects 
> (as were Mongols, northern Chinese and southern Chinese).
> Those are my brief thoughts on the subject.
> Yours,
> Adam
> On 2014-02-28 11:45 PM, J.Scott Burgeson wrote:
>> I have a question for the linguists on this List, specifically those 
>> who work not only with the Korean language but also Chinese and 
>> Japanese.
>> It is well-known that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of 
>> Chinese-character based words in common use in Japan, China and 
>> Korea were coined by the Japanese during the Meiji period, such as "
>> 百貨店" ("백화점"), "時間" ("시간"), "国際" ("국제"), "民族" ("민족
>> "), "市場" ("시장"), "社会" or "社會" ("사회"), "出版" ("출판") and 
>> many, many more.
>> My question has to do with the route of transmission of the word "外
>> 國人" or "외국인" into Korea, which one would assume is not pure or 
>> native Korean as it is based on Chinese characters.
>> I have consulted a dozen or more different Korean-Korean 
>> dictionaries, both contemporary and of words in use during the 
>> Choson Period, and in general etymologies are not given for this 
>> word.
>> According to Japanese linguists, the word "外國人" was promoted and 
>> popularized during the Meiji period in contrast to the word "内国人" 
>> (lit., "inside country person" or "내국인" in Korean), which was 
>> used to refer to people of the Japanese Empire, including those in 
>> Korea and Taiwan. Thus, those outside of the Empire were referred to 
>> as "外國人" or "외국인" in Korean. Here, for instance, is a 1931 
>> article from the 동아일보 that uses the word in the title and text:
>> However, the studies I have seen do not make it clear whether or not 
>> the word "外國人" was actually created by the Japanese during the 
>> Meiji period, or merely popularized by the Meiji authorities. In 
>> other words, it is not clear whether or not it is 和製漢語. What is 
>> clear, though, is that it was at this time that the word "外國人" 
>> became the standard term for "foreigners" in the Japanese language, 
>> as prior to this there was a variety of different terms used to 
>> describe non-Japanese, such as "南蛮人," "異人," "異国人," and "異邦
>> 人." What seems to be the case is that the difference with "外國人" 
>> is that it has more of a legalistic meaning or connotation, in 
>> contrast to these other words, indicating a lack of local 
>> citizenship or nationality, and this is certainly how the term is 
>> used today, at least officially, in present-day South Korea.
>> In China, meanwhile, there was also a great variety of different 
>> terms for non-Han or non-Chinese people in the pre-modern period, 
>> including "洋人" and "洋鬼子," while the concept of a "foreign 
>> country" was sometimes expressed as "异国," and even "外國" can be 
>> found as early as the Han Dynasty in "Records of the Historian":
>> "外國人" is also the title of a story by the Early Qing writer Pu 
>> Songling that appears in "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio," 
>> which is about shipwrecked Filipinos who float to Macau and are then 
>> sent back home by the Chinese. However, as in the case of Japan, it 
>> does not seem that the word "外國人" was in standard usage in 
>> pre-modern China, and was just one of many others. This would seem 
>> to be logical, since the modern nation-state system only comes to 
>> East Asia in the latter part of the 19th century, and "外國人" as it 
>> is used in China, Japan and Korea today has a very clear legalistic 
>> meaning referring to citizenship and nationality in the full modern 
>> sense of these terms.
>> So the question is how to determine if the word "외국인" came to 
>> Korea: Via China or via Japan? As I have mentioned, in dictionaries 
>> I have consulted, such as 동광출판사's massive "조선말 사전" or the 
>> 국립국어연구원's "표준국어대사전," no etymology or word origin is 
>> given, and in 한국정신문화 연구원's "17세기 국어사전," only the term 
>> "外國" is listed, not "外國人" or "외국 사람." As in China and 
>> Japan, it seems that in pre-modern Korea, there was no standard term 
>> for "foreigner" but rather a variety that did not have an legalistic 
>> connotations, such as "색목인," which dates to at least 1365, or "코
>> 쟁이," a common term for Westerners.
>> The reason I am interested in this question is because if it can be 
>> determined that the term "외국인" became the standard term for 
>> so-called "foreigners" in the colonial context of Japan's occupation 
>> of Korea, the word would have a rather problematic history attached 
>> to it, to say the least. And even if "외국인" is not an actual 
>> instance of "和製漢語," it would still be worth knowing how much 
>> influence Imperial Japan had in promoting and standardizing the term 
>> within Korea.
>> What is curious is how uninterested Korean-Korean dictionaries are 
>> in listing word etymologies in them, which is standard in almost any 
>> English-English dictionary. At a visit to Kyobo's Daegu store last 
>> night, I could not find one 국어 dictionary that gave etymologies, 
>> and the clerk had to take me to a different section on another floor 
>> to find a few books devoted solely to etymologies of Korean words; 
>> the largest, however, only contained 1,000 words, which is certainly 
>> a rather meager selection. I asked her why most 국어 or Korean 
>> dictionaries did not give etymologies and she speculated that most 
>> Koreans simply assume that the vast majority of Korean words are 
>> Chinese-based and leave it at that. My own feeling is that there may 
>> be nationalistic motivations at play here, but of course there could 
>> be many other factors.
>> In short, my question here is simple: Can anyone recommend the best 
>> Korean-Korean dictionary or book to trace etymologies in the Korean 
>> language? And if anyone has thoughts on the term "외국인" itself and 
>> its history in Korea, those would be much appreciated as well!
>> Cheers,
>>          Scott Bug

Frank Hoffmann

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