[KS] Re: Hong Kiltong, etc.
Gari Keith Ledyard
gkl1 at columbia.edu
Mon Mar 20 10:22:10 EST 2000
Dear John Frankl et al.,
The use in an early work of Korean literature of the self-humbling
first-person pronoun pok (Yale system here and following), which is
familiar in Japanese as boku, cannot be taken as evidence that the author
was suggesting that the person using this pronoun was Japanese or living
in a Japanese community. The word had this meaning in classical Chinese
already in Han times. Moreover I have seen it used as a first-person
pronoun in letters written in the Korean language in 1766 and 1831
(Ulpyeng yenhayngnok). My supposition is that it would not be hard to
find it in many writings in Hanmun written by Koreans, especially in
epistolary contexts. It would be entirely understandable for islanders
addressing the great hero Hong Kiltong to refer to themselves in this way.
I would disagree with Sam Martin over "slave" as a gloss or tag
for pok, which appears in his dictionary as well as in his recent
posting. A quick check in standard dictionaries for classical Chinese
suggests that it is not justified. Rather they indicate a range of
meanings closer to servant, groom or carriage driver, follower, etc. The
word "slave" does not appear anywhere in Morohashi's ten definitions.
The early 20th century dictionary Cihai cites the phrase nupu (K. nopok,
J. doboku), "slave + servant" in a context that suggests two members of a
very low status group, but that is as close as it gets. But Kim Minswu's
dictionary also cites this phrase, which might be Sam's source.
It seems astonishing to me that "boku" does not appear in Japanese
until Meiji times. I'd be willing to take a wager on its use in earlier
Japanese epistolary writings in both regular Japanese and kanbun Japanese.
On Wed, 15 Mar 2000, John Frankl wrote (among many other very interesting
> Admittedly, the entire tale is one of riding clouds, dividing oneself into
> eight, etc. As such, the line between this- and other-world(ly) is never
> clear. That said, I read the story differently, finding pretty clear
> indications that the ltong provide a case of humans being dehumanized.
> Professor S l seems to feel the same. They refer to themselves with the
> first person singular pronoun "Bok," written with the Chinese character
> pronounced "Boku" in modern Japanese (though I must admit that I am
> uncertain as to whether this pronoun was used in late-16th/early-17th
> century Japanese). Does this lend any credence to interpretations of
> Yul-do as Ryukyu, and to claims of Hong's appearance in Japanese tales?
> Perhaps S ng-do was an island closer to one of the main Japanese islands?
> They refer to each other as "hy ng" and "tongsaeng." They understand all
> of Hong's references to literary Chinese--one of which he uses to convince
> them of his medical skill. They live in large houses with front doors,
> upon which Hong knocks to gain entrance. They treat him rather cordially,
> hardly behaving like beasts (until, of course, he kills their king, and
> later all of them). There is one sentence that refers to them as yogwi,
> and proves it by saying they command the wind and clouds. But Hong does
> the same against them and at many points throughout the story--does this
> cause us to doubt his human-ness?
More information about the Koreanstudies