[KS] backward apostrophes

S Hwang skhwang3 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 19:47:42 EST 2015

Dear all,

I have been checking some Korean words in McCune-Reischauer system and find
the use of backward apostrophes somewhat confusing.

Based on my earlier training, words like ch'angjak (창작) and T'aeguk 태국
should use backward apostrophes, while Han'guk (한국) and in'gan (인간) should
use normal apostrophes. I verified these words in the Library of Congress
Online Catalog by searching book titles and it showed a clear difference
between backward and normal apostrophes. Most titles are, indeed,
accurately recorded.

But when I checked recently published works from various publishers, the
use of apostrophes was inconsistent. Many texts did not distinguished the
two (backward and normal) apostrophes and used normal apostrophes for both
T'aeguk and Han'guk. Even LOC manual did not distinguish the two (see
https://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/korean.pdf)--unlike their
online catalog. Does it mean that it is okay to use normal apostrophes for
both T'aeguk and Han'guk? Perhaps the mix-up was due to an error? or was
there an official change in the McCune-Reischauer system?

I would appreciate if someone could explain this. Thank you.

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