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

John Armstrong johna318 at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 7 20:43:10 EDT 2017

Thanks for your comments Bob.

I'm working my way through Gari Ledyard's thesis and I’ve read his translation of the haeryae and his commentary on it as well as his account of the Dongguk Jeongun.  The breadth and depth of his knowledge and the incisiveness of his analyses are truly impressive. His thesis is a masterpiece of scholarship.

He calls out the aspects of the Dongguk Jeongun readings that he regards as artificial, and I accept them all.  I am primarily interested in the vowels, and I believe that the only artificial features relating to them that he mentions are: (a) the rimes in –Vmh and (b) the rimes beginning with certain complex glides or “medials” that include both y and w elements.  Apart from these features I believe the vowels of the Dongguk Jeongun are the same as the vowels in “Eastern sounds” readings which were in use before the DJ was published and came back into use again after the brief hiatus when the DJ readings were accepted as standard.

I believe this is the position of Sinhang Kang as summarized in his chapter “The Vowel System of the Korean Alphabet and Korean Readings of Chinese Characters” in Young-Key Kim-Renaud, The Korean Alphabet: Its History and Structure (UHP, 1997).

If I had a simple way of looking at the prescribed Dongguk Jeongun and actual “Eastern Sounds” readings (perhaps as represented by the Choe Sejin dictionary that you mention) of a large set of characters (including characters from all Chinese rime classes) side by side and seeing where they differed, I would have all the information I want in front of me, but as it is I don’t have such a list.  Has anyone compiled such a list or, equivalently, identified all the characters or sets of characters that have different readings in the two systems?  (I'm interested in vowels but it would include both consonants and vowels.)

Such a list would also reveal the relative counts of characters with ae (Yale ay) vs. arae ae (Yale oy) readings in the two systems, which might shed light on the apparent strong preference for arae ae readings in the pre-reform spelling that Underwood follows in his books.

-- John

From: Koreanstudies <koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com> on behalf of Samuel Robert Ramsey <ramsey at umd.edu>
Sent: Friday, April 7, 2017 5:51 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] Hangul question: original graphic distinction between eo (Yale e) and arae ae (Yale oy)

Dear John,

If you have now begun to read Gari's book, I'm sure you already know what a wonderful source of information it is, as well as a pleasure to read. After all these years since I first got a copy, I still go back to it from time to time, and each time I discover a new gem. --But I guess I've already made clear enough how much I like that work; it's one of the very best examples of scholarship on Korea and Korean we have.

A few words about your questions, though. The vowel you're asking about, the one known as arae a, was lost in Seoul in the Early Modern period. The first stage of the loss took place even earlier, in the 16th century, when it merged in non-initial syllables with other vowels, usually /u/ (Hangul ㅡ). And then in the 18th century it was lost in initial syllables, when it merged with other vowels, usually /a/, of course, as you know. So, by the time of the texts you mentioned, the vowel was only an artifact of non-standard orthography. Hangul spellings then varied widely, from writer to writer even, and that remained pretty much true until the orthographic standardization of 1933. Many of those early spellings may have represented earlier, historical reality, but often enough they represented little more than ghost forms. Anyway, Horace Underwood's dictionary came out well before the 20th-century reforms, so even though its spellings were those most commonly in use at the time, I'm not sure how well they represented the reality of the 15th century.

But it seems you're interested in particular in Sino-Korean spellings. And in considering systematic differences in those spellings, you're looking at Dongguk Jeongun. Perhaps you already know this, but that source represents not actual pronunciations but rather Sejong's prescriptive readings of the characters, which are unlikely to be what you want. For the Sino-Korean readings in actual usage, you should refer to Choe Sejin's 16th-century dictionary, Hunmong jahoe, which is the earliest collection of the actual Korean readings of Chinese characters we have.

Hope this helps a bit.

On Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 10:45 AM, John Armstrong <johna318 at hotmail.com<mailto:johna318 at hotmail.com>> wrote:

Thanks Bob.  I now have access to the thesis and am beginning to read it.  I’m not by anybody’s standards a serious Koreanist, but I have a background in linguistics and as well as computing and am very interested in the Korean language and Korean literature and culture generally.

I have to say your and others’ comments on the typos in the Korean publication of Ledyard’s thesis brings a smile to my face.  It may be something well known to group members, but I recently read in an account of printing in a popular book on traditional Korean culture that the authoritative Joseon law book Gyeongguk daejeon (1485) specifies that the penalty for a single typo in an entire volume in the printing of an official work , was, for all those involved in the printing, from highest manager to the lowest worker, thirty strokes of the cane, and dismissal after three offences.  Ouch!

With your knowledge of Chinese and Korean, you might be able to help me with the issue that led me to my hangul question.  My experience with Korean is very limited and the only Korean I’ve seen from before the spelling reforms of the early 201th century is that in the Korean grammar and dictionary compiled by the Presbyterian missionary Horace Grant Underwood (originally published 1889 and 1890).  The language seems not much different from the language of today but the orthography is very different, and seems to match descriptions of pre-modern usage.

One thing I noticed in the two books was that arae a (Yale o) and arae ae (Yale oy) are both extremely common.  Arae a seems to appear more or less where it historically should, both in initial and non-initial syllables.    Arae ae is much more common than “ordinary” ae (Yale ay) and appears in both native Korean and Sino-Korean words.  I have some idea where it should appear in native words but I have yet to determine where it should appear in Sino-Korean words - which is really a matter of which Chinese characters historically have readings with arae ae vs. ae (Yale oy vs. ay).  As I understand the Dongguk Jeongun only arae ae should occur in syllables ending in a consonant (actually limited to -ng and -k), while both arae ae and ordinary ae can occur in open syllables, with the distribution corresponding to the rime classes of the characters.

Do you have a sense of the history of the spellings of the readings of the characters in question?  In particular, after arae ae merged with ae, to what extent do you think the orthography continued to preserve their historical values and to what extent did it confuse or redistribute them (say, by preferring arae ae to ae independent of the historical value)?

Perhaps this is something that’s already been studied; I’m personally totally unfamiliar with the literature and can only guess that it has been.

Not a very important question but I’d be interested in any comments you have.

-- John

From: Koreanstudies <koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com<mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com>> on behalf of Samuel Robert Ramsey <ramsey at umd.edu<mailto:ramsey at umd.edu>>
Sent: Monday, April 3, 2017 1:13 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] Hangul question: original graphic distinction between eo (Yale e) and arae ae (Yale oy)

A quick response to your question about the Haerye, John (with apologies for not going into the other matters that you originally asked about): Yes, it's certainly true that Gari Ledyard's famous Berkeley dissertation contains a complete translation of the Hunmin chongum--including most importantly, the Haerye. Also, I personally find Gari's translation of Sejong's simple preface to be far and away the best English-language translation there is. Moreover, that same dissertation also contains a lot of historical and linguistic information not easily found elsewhere, as well as many ideas and insights from a truly first-rate mind. As a serious Koreanist, you really do need to read it!

The more important question of course is where you can get this 1966 Berkeley dissertation. The title is "The Korean Language Reform of 1446: The Origin, Background, and Early History of the Korean Alphabet", and it used to be you could just order a hard copy from University Microfilms. (That was where I got my first copy, but I suspect these days scholars turn to electronic portals--perhaps Proquest?) But there is also a book form of the dissertation published by 신구문화사 in 1998. (https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Korean_language_reform_of_1446.html?id=VAQaAQAAIAAJ) That publication contains some changes and a lot of typos, but it is between hard covers and handy.


The Korean language reform of 1446<https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Korean_language_reform_of_1446.html?id=VAQaAQAAIAAJ>

Hope this helps at least a little.
Bob Ramsey

On Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 10:38 AM, John Armstrong <johna318 at hotmail.com<mailto:johna318 at hotmail.com>> wrote:

Thanks for the comments Werner.  Your reference to seemingly archaic pronunciations in modern sijo and muga singing is very intriguing.  Is there an accessible reference you could give me?

Re my notation, I generally use either hangul or Revised Romanization in my own work (which is focused on Modern Korean, and is aimed at a general as opposed to a linguistic audience) and I use arae a and arae ae (a usage I have seen elsewhere though it is less common) as the names for the vowels that Yale transliteration writes as o and oy simply because the RR provides no way to represent those vowels.  (Nor, as far as I know, does McCune–Reischauer.)  When I need to I use RR for morphophonemic representations– practically equivalent to hangul and Yale - as permitted by the standard.

Re terminology, I used diphthong in the basic sense of “two sounds” to denote vowels that have different sounds in different parts of the syllable without implying anything about the exact articulatory or acoustic phonetic characteristics of the sounds.   I do not have a strong opinion about the exact phonetic realization of the final element in vowels of form Vi ~ Vj.   The one thing I would note though it is that, to the best of my knowledge, it does not participate in resyllabification before a vowel i.e. Vj-V does not -> V-jV (for example na+i-da ‘bring forth’ old formation causative of na-da ‘come forth’ becomes nae-da with monosyllabic stem nae- but the uncontracted infinitive is nae-(y)eo with the causative marking retained in the stem and not *na-yeo with it shifted to the following syllable and the underlying root vowel restored).

Re the Haerye, another member of the group informed me off-list that Gari Ledyard’s thesis includes a complete translation of the text.  I believe it at least lists all the Vi ~ Vj vowels.  Hopefully I can get access to the thesis and see how the text describes them and positions them in the overall vowel inventory.

As to the occurrence of (what I call) arae a and arae ae in Korean readings of Chinese character in the Donguk jeongun, I just noticed that Martin includes a very convenient summary in his Reference Grammar, pp. 126-.  It is in the form of a grid (horizontal = initial x vertical = final) and is ordered on the final dimension by book volumes 1-6, sections 1-26 (effectively rime groups), and within the sections section by segmental finals and tones (four for segmental finals ending in a consonant, three for finals ending in a vowel), presumably in the order they appear in in the original.  Not the same as having the actual document, but still very useful.

Thanks again for your comments.

-- John

From: Koreanstudies <koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com<mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com>> on behalf of Werner Sasse <werner_sasse at hotmail.com<mailto:werner_sasse at hotmail.com>>
Sent: Sunday, April 2, 2017 2:04 AM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] Hangul question: original graphic distinction between eo (Yale e) and arae ae (Yale oy)

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<mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreanstudies.com>> on behalf of John Armstrong <johna318 at hotmail.com<mailto:johna318 at hotmail.com>>
Sent: Friday, March 31, 2017 11:26 PM
To: koreanstudies at koreanstudies.com<mailto: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<mailto:johna318 at hotmail.com>

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