[KS] formal question (which version of Chinese characters?)

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Tue May 26 16:46:06 EDT 2015

My own SUMMARY from this discourse:

Yeon-ju Bae wrote:

> Drawing on the example that has been used, 民俗, 民間, and 傳承 seem 
> to have completely different meaning/nuance in Korean, i.e., 'folk', 
> 'among laity', and 'transmission' (at least
> according to my first impression of hearing the words).
> So I guess the inscription of Sino-Korean forms might not necessarily 
> render the effect of translation, as someone else has already mentioned.

Exactly that was the very starting point of my question -- it should 
not be the result. We certainly are all aware that these terms do in 
daily language mean very different, unrelated things *in Korea* -- 
which is why it was chosen as an example. But this was NOT a question 
related to publishing IN KOREAN language (in KOREA)! That would be a 
completely different issue, and this should not be mixed up.

The basic question is:
Should one pay consideration to the different semantics of character 
variations (Korea, mainland China, Japan) beyond the correct 
representation of the transcribed pronunciation in each language -- or 
is a "representation" of Chinese characters only acceptable when we do 
so 1:1 (mirroring the actual variations used in that culture and/or 

The argument given by Andrew Logie's struck me as especially sensible 
and convincing: 
>> traditional, Simplified and Japanese kanji are now - synchronically 
speaking - independent scripts used to represent different languages <<
He thus sees Chinese characters within each LANGUAGE rather than 
understanding the characters as just a script system. 

To me this is plausible enough in order to now use each local variant 
of characters for terminology and for bibliographic references. What I 
am personally left with is the question about personal names though 
(more so than institutional names). Would it really be the best to, 
using another example, write the simplified version of the family name 
Kwŏn 權, which is 权, when we refer to some Chinese Korean person 
living in Jilin, China (while keeping the pronunciation at Kwŏn rather 
than Quan)? If we 'push' that a little, we then get sentences like: "In 
1990 Mr. Kwŏn 权 xx visited his his nephew Mr. Kwŏn 權 yy in Seoul." 
Even without such rather seldom cases, my 'gut feeling' tells me we do 
not need that in case of personal names, simply because these are not 
related to cultural semantics. Am I not thinking this through? Any 


Frank Hoffmann

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