[KS] Hangul question: original graphic distinction between eo (Yale e) and arae ae (Yale oy)

Werner Sasse werner_sasse at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 2 02:04:40 EDT 2017

Dear John,

in your text you touch upon a couple of questions, which at the moment I am too busy to go into.

But your headline question is easy enough.. The dot in [eo] was in the middle of the [I], while the area-a was lower and a bit further apart.

By the way, when you wrote "arae ae", it looked to me as if you were seeing it as a diphthong. Diphtongisation was later, in the early stages the [I] was an off-glide, so [ai  / eI / oi...] would be more correct. (and in sijo singing this is still used, also in many muga)

Another by the way: [eo] was actually an [e] in the earlier stages (so Yale romanisation is like the pronunciation in early sources. And in [oy] the [y] is the off-glide...)

Welcome to the club


From: Koreanstudies <koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com> on behalf of John Armstrong <johna318 at hotmail.com>
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2017 11:26 PM
To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com
Subject: [KS] Hangul question: original graphic distinction between eo (Yale e) and arae ae (Yale oy)

I just discovered this list and having looked at a couple years of archives I’m not sure it’s a good place to ask my question.  If there’s a more appropriate list please let me know.

I recently became interested in the question of the occurrence of the obsolete diphthongal vowel arae ae (arae a + i, Yale transliteration oy) in medieval Korean readings of Chinese characters.  Although I have never seen the full text of Dongguk Jeongun, my understanding from descriptions of it is that it specifies readings with this vowel for characters in some rime classes involving i-final diphthongs in Middle Chinese.  I also understand that Hunmin Jeongeum Haerye includes this vowel in its list of Korean diphthongs.   Further, I’ve seen examples of the vowel in native Korean words in late 15th century texts.  (Clear examples, not necessarily quite this old, include (all Yale transliteration) poy (modern pay) in several meanings, payyam (modern pay-am or paym) ‘snake’, -oy beside –uy possessive marker, and –toy (modern –tay) ‘time when’.)

So here is my question.  According to the doctrine of Hunmin Jeongeum Haerye, three vowels were primary, arae a (Heaven), eu (Earth) and i (Man), and all other vowels were compounds of these three – particularly a = i + arae a, eo =  arae a + i,  o = arae a + eu, and u = eu + arae a.  Later on arae a on its own came to be written as a short upper left-lower right stroke and the arae a component of compound vowels came to be written as a short stroke perpendicular to the long stroke; but it was originally written as a dot in both cases, and with the dot in the compound vowels close to but not touching the other vowel component.

But diphthongal arae ae was also written as a dot + a vertical stroke. So how did it differ from the same combination representing eo?  Greater space?  Different (maybe lower) positioning of the dot?

Also, having never seen the full text of the Haerye or even a complete translation of it, I wonder how it describes the diphthongs (both w-initial and y-final) and how it represents the difference between the two combinations of arae a + i, compound eo and diphthongal arae ae.  As far as I can see this is the only case in the whole vowel inventory where such a distinction needs to be made.

John Armstrong
Cambridge, MA
johna318 at hotmail.com

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