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Report of the Workshop Conference on Korean Romanization* Robert? usterlitz COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY Chin- Wu Kim UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS Samuel E. Martin YALE UNIVERSITY S. RobertRamsey COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY Ho-min Sohn UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA Seok Choong Song MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY Edward W. Wagner HARVARD UNIVERSITY The workshop Conference on Korean Romanization was held on June 3-6, 1981, at the University of Hawaii under the auspices of the Center for Korean Studies. The specific goal of this conference was limited to an examination of the McCune-Reischauer system of romanization and its applications in the hope that certain recommendations would be made that might produce more uniform, more consistent, and simpler guidelines for those wishing to use this system to romanize Korean. At the same time, we recognize the desirability of a unified system of romanization that will be mutually acceptable to Koreans and non-Koreans for both academic and general purposes. The two systems of romanizing Korean in widespread use today are ?The participants of the conference are grateful to many of our colleagues for their helpful suggestions and recommendations: in particular, Gari K. Ledyard of Columbia University and Edward F. Klein of Hawaii Pacific College. The work of the group was facilitated by the draft proposal of Korean word division prepared by Dae W. Chang of the Library of Congress and by the comments on this proposal made by his colleagues at other institutions . 1 12WORKSHOP ON KOREAN ROMANIZATION the McCune-Reischauer system and that of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea.1 Each system has advantages and shortcomings that we have examined in some detail. The well-known advantages of each need no further discussion here. The shortcomings, however, call for explicit mention at this point. The McCune-Reischauer system poses the following difficulties for the speaker of Korean: (1). The system prescribes writing phonetic distinctions that are outside the linguistic awareness of the native speaker, who must learn to overdifferentiate elements in the sound system of his own language. To produce correctly the romanized form of the word pubu 'husband and wife' a Korean must learn to write the first syllable differently from the second, though to him they sound identical. (2). The system provides that the phonetic principle be honored even at the expense of losing distinctions made in the Hangül orthography: what is written kuk-min 'nationals' in Hangül is romanized by the McCune-Reischauer system as kungmin, the same as kung-min 'the poor'. (3). It is difficult to decide what to do about the "unwritten sai siot": whether to ignore it, and violate the phonetic principle, or to indicate its effect in writing. Furthermore if we decide to indicate the unwritten sai siot, it is difficult to know just how to do so. Are we to romanize the Hangül ap'-il 'the future' as amnil, following the pronunciation, though Hangül has neither m nor «? Or are we to follow the analogy of romanizing ap'-ögümni 'front molar' as abögümni and write abil, ignoring the actual pronunciation? (4). For sounds pronounced as -lit- and -Itch- but written in Hangül as what McCune-Reischauer would normally transcribe as -Id- and -Ij-, the McCune-Reischauer system requires the spellings -It- and -Ich-, as in pattai 'development' and palchön 'expansion'. A special effort is required to remember this. The non-Korean speaker is faced with the following difficulties posed by the McCune-Reischauer system: (1). It is difficult for the non-Korean to grasp immediately all the information intended by the letter symbols unless one is aware of not only the phonetic adjustments that are obvious when one has mastered a few rules, but also those that would not be obvious without internalizing the grammar of the language, as a Korean has done. (See points 3 and 4 below.) (2). The system is itself inconsistent in honoring the phonetic principle with respect to a few minor points, as when writing si in words like Silla for syllables that are pronounced shi, and writing initial sy- for what WORKSHOP ON KOREAN ROMANIZATION113 one would expect to be rendered as sh-, despite the prescription that...


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