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

Samuel Robert Ramsey ramsey at umd.edu
Mon Mar 10 22:52:41 EDT 2014

Korean philologists say that the dropping of initial n- took place in the
latter half of the 18th century. One of Gari's examples, 님금 'king', for
example, appears as 임금 in a 1772 text.

Bob Ramsey

On 3/10/14 3:37 PM, "gkl1 at columbia.edu" <gkl1 at columbia.edu> wrote:

>    Back from a long time away from home, it's taken a while to catch
>up with the interesting postings over the last weeks. I'd like to
>return to the long thread started by Dennis Lee about his supposed
>McCune-Reischauer issue involving the dual readings 년 and 연 for the
>character 年. My take is that those readings are not a romanization
>issue. They raise rather a consonantal sandhi issue, and the McC-R
>romanization is the only one of the three currently available systems
>for Korean that address that problem.
>    As Werner Sasse noted, when the character 年 is not proceeded by
>another consonant, the initial ㄴ of 년 is dropped and the reading
>begins with the zero consonant ㅇ as 연. In a response to a comment from
>Frank Hoffman, who was the first to respond Dennis Lee's question,
>Werner wrote: "Note that this problem arises only in Sino-Korean words."
>    However, in the pre-modern stages of of the Korean vernacular,
>speakers in the southern half of the peninsula began to drop the
>initial consonants ㄴand ㄹ when followed byㅣ(-i),ㅑ(-ya,
>ㅕ(y`o),ㅛ(yo),and ㅠ(yu).
>    The reading 년 for 年 reflects the Chinese reading nien, from the
>earliest stages of Sino-Korean. In the desk-top hanja dictionary 漢韓大辭典
>(Tong-a taesaj`on that I have used since 1964, edited by Yang Chudong,
>Min T'aesik, and Yi Kawon well known scholars working in
>the mid- and late 20th century,the appropriate character reading is
>given using the formula "年년(연)".
>    I'm pretty sure that the process of dropping ㄴ(and also ㄹ) did not
>originate in Sino-Korean. Rather it must surely have started in
>ordinary vernacular Korean speech. Some examples from from Middle
>Korean to modern Korean:
>    니 > 이 tooth
>    님 > 임금 king, Your Majesty
>    냠냠 > 얌냠 goodies, yum yummy
>    녀름 > 여름 summer
>    녀기다 > think, consider, regard as, take for
>    I couldn't think of or find any vernacular examples with -ㅛ or -ㅠ,
>but you get the idea. In any case, I don't think it's likely that the
>dropping of ㄴ- and ㄹ- initials could have originated in Sino-Korean
>itself. But once the process was active in common vernacular speech,
>sooner or later it would have impacted Sino-Korean. Looking in a hanja
>dictionary, one can find many examples besides the 年 case. Here are a
>    泥 니 mud, clay: 泥金 니금 gold dust, gold paint
>    孃 냥 woman: 孃孃 (양냥) empress
>    寧 녕 peace: 寧歲 (영세) a peaceful year
>    尿 뇨 urine: 尿강 (요강) chamber pot
>    紐 뉴 button, tie 尿帶 (유대) relationships, ties, connections
>    In the character indexes of the dictionary mentioned above, there
>are thirty-nine characters with readings given as initial ㄴ(ㅇㅡ) in the
>first character of a hanja compound. The corresponding list of
>characters with initial ㄹ(ㅇㅡ) is almost five times as many, with 191
>Gari Ledyard
>Quoting Dennis Lee <dennisleeucla at gmail.com>:
>> Dear Colleagues:
>> Thank you very much for the very enlightening comments.
>> I always supposed that 천구백구십육년  and 1996년 would be romanized the same
>> they are pronounced the same in Korean. However, the fact that they are
>> was always bizarre to me.
>> But as many of you have pointed out, there is quite a lot of variation
>> the actual implementation of these romanziation. And as the presses
>>like to
>> say, as long as you are consistent.
>> Best,
>> Dennis Lee
>> On Sun, Feb 23, 2014 at 3:13 PM, Werner Sasse
>> <werner_sasse at hotmail.com>wrote:
>>> Ooops, why did I always write McC rather than McR...?
>>> ------------------------------
>>> From: werner_sasse at hotmail.com
>>> To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com
>>> Subject: RE: [KS] Variable Romanization of 년(年) in McCune-Reischauer
>>> Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2014 06:04:49 +0000
>>> Hi,
>>> trying to be pragmatic: if McR tries to write the pronunciation, there
>>> should be 1) [n], 2.[zero], 3. [l]
>>> 1. [n] if none of the following rules 2. and 3. is the case (육년
>>> 독신녀 toksinnyo)
>>> 2. [zero] at the beginning of a word in S-Kor Korean, when the initial
>>> is deleted like before yota. (여자 yoja).
>>> The problem with  년 is that in most usages it more resembles a
>>> dependent/bound noun, cf. 삼년 samnyon, not sam yon, 육년 yungnyon, not yuk
>>> yon, 2014년 ... And (because of frequency of bound 년 ?) in normal talk
>>> Koreans pronounce the n- in nyon even when initial, while only very
>>>few say
>>> nyoja for 여자.
>>> (NO deletion in N-Kor official speak, but to my experience still used
>>> there by many in casual conversation when a "non-political" vocabulary
>>> is used...)
>>> 3. [l] after l/r (말년 mallyon)
>>> Note that this problem arises only in sino-kor words.
>>> Rules are one thing, applications are another. And, of course,
>>> should be followed strictly, but adapting the romanisation systems to
>>> particular needs and/or documentation media seems to be a problem among
>>> researchers and librarians which - seen from the outside - resembles
>>> religion wars. I mean: fighting for and about the "best" solution,
>>> there is no best solution looks like fighting for truth where the
>>> of truth is only another truth... Pragmatical approach seems to be
>>> for. And, anyway, no system will be good for speakers of any language
>>> for any application.
>>> And, by the way, the biggest problem I see in all of the different
>>> romanisation systems is the lack of hyphenisation rules. Here no
>>> will be found before those, who are creating official standardized
>>> romanisation rules (up to now 4 different systems in my lifetime...)
>>> understand, that the system should not be made to please Korean eyes.
>>> Hyphens or spacing are sine-qua-non for Western eyes, even when
>>>Koreans do
>>> not seem to need them.
>>> Last footnote at the side: The beauty of McC rather than the current
>>> system comes from the fact that foreigners made it for foreigners.
>>> (Footnote: interesting that Korean colleagues often say that McC is bad
>>> because it was made by foreigners. Look at Hepburn for Japanese... )
>>>And we
>>> have to give up the ridiculous idea that a writing system needs to be
>>> logical, scientific, or what not. It should simply be standardized and
>>> used by everyone, no matter how stupid it may look. (therefore it
>>> also be taught in Korean schools!)
>>> And Pusan/Busan, Kwangju/Gwangju, etc. still lingering on ...,  but
>>> comes a different story)
>>> Best wishes
>>> peruno sase
>>> Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2014 14:07:50 -0800
>>> From: hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
>>> To: *koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com <koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com>*
>>> Subject: Re: [KS] Variable Romanization of 년(年) in McCune-Reischauer
>>> Hi Dennis:
>>> Good question. Never saw that before you mentioned it here ... but yes,
>>> the Library of Congress version of the McC-R rules does indeed list
>>> such examples as
>>>   1996 년  =  1996-yon
>>>   62 年 事業  =  62-yon saop
>>> on age 32, just as you say.
>>> Am also a little confused here. Maybe some linguist can explain that?
>>> I just wanted to say ne thing though: there are lots if rules in this
>>> very *detailed* ruleset by the Library of Congress. And it seems that
>>> for most there are too many rules, so many that non-bibliographers are
>>> unwilling to follow them, also because they make our life harder and
>>> not easier. FOR EXAMPLE (from my memory, without having reconfirmed
>>> with the guide), when you look up the book title "한글 타자" in the
>>> online Library of Congress catalog you will find this:
>>>   Han’gul t‘aja
>>> Not sure if your email program shows this correctly when my message
>>> arrives on your computer ... so here is an IMAGE of it:
>>> Do you see the variations there in the quotes -- between curved closing
>>> single quote and curved opening single quote? That is one of those LC
>>> that hardly anyone follows, one thought to be a stop to separate
>>> so Han’gul is not misread as Hang’ul, in the other case just
>>> the tiut (ㅌ). That's very Prussian, I'd say, except that it comes from
>>> Washington. Not even first rate university presses follow such rules.
>>> same page of the LG guide you referred to also has this example:
>>>천구백구십육년 =
>>> Ch’on-kubaek-kusip-yungnyon Apart from that "-yon" which same as you I
>>> not understand (yet), it does make sense to transcribe a year in e.g. a
>>> book title *if* it is given there in han’gul (not numerals), just as
>>>in the
>>> example above. It also makes sense to leave it in numerals *if* it is
>>> in numerals in the original (e.g. 1962 년). But I see that a number of
>>> writers then also transcribe it into full words if the original is in
>>> numerals. The only reason this happens is because there are just too
>>> rules in the ALA-LC guidelines for researchers to follow. You just
>>> have a life in the real world and parallel to that follow ALA-LC rules.
>>> Enough is enough. Best, Frank On Sun, 23 Feb 2014 04:56:16 +0900,
>>> Lee wrote: > Dear List Members: > > I apologize in advance if this has
>>> already been answered on the list. > However, my search came up nothing
>>> about this. > > This is something about the McR romanization for 년(年)
>>> has > bothered me for years, but I haven't yet found a satisfactory
>>> > > On page 32 of the ALA-LC guidelines, it gives several examples of >
>>> romanizing 년, but in some cases it will romanize it nyon while in >
>>> it will be yon. Logically, I think it should be nyon all the > time. At
>>> first, I thought the use of yon was some arbitrary rule for > years
>>> in Indo-Arabic numerals, but I have seen it used both > ways in various
>>> publications. > > Does anybody know what the exact rule is for
>>>choosing yon
>>> over nyon, > and more importantly, why? Also, does this apply to the
>>> Revised > Romanization system as well? > > Here are the examples
>>>given: > >
>>> 천구백구십육년 Ch'on-kubaek-kusip-yungnyon > 1996년 1996-yon > > 六十二年 事業 計劃
>>> Yuksip-inyon saop kyehoek > 62 年 事業 計劃 62-yon saop kyehoek > > > Thank
>>> > Dennis Lee > > > > -------------------------------------- Frank
>>> http://koreanstudies.com

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