[KS] Romanization systems survey
gkl1 at columbia.edu
gkl1 at columbia.edu
Sat Sep 12 21:30:59 EDT 2009
Charles Muller has made an eloquent and very sensible comment on
the romanization issue, as has also Werner Sasse. Both raise practical
issues regarding romanization stability. Although I dislike the RR
system and still favor McCune-Reischauer, there is much to be said for
their arguments, whether or not we will end up with one or the other
or still another new system. Especially important is the plea for
romanization literacy in the Korean school system and in the
professional/business/education worlds in general.
People actually have to know something about language and phonology
in order to follow romanization rules, whatever the system. This is
especially true for Korean, which presents an unusual range of
phonological and orthographical issues for any romanizer. Neither
Chinese nor Japanese even come close to the complexities inherent in
Korean romanization. Without a carefully planned and executed plan of
national education in this area, no system, no matter how ingenious,
can be successfully applied. Even properly executed applications will
suffer if people don't understand the importance of practical rules
for word and/or word-phrase division. In the end it is not the
linguists who will determine the viability of any system, it will be
the users of the system. There are a few good points in RR, but too
frequently we run into phrases with from fifteen to twenty letters
without a break.
Kudos to both Charles and Werner for their thoughtful commetns
Quoting Charles Muller <cmuller-lst at jj.em-net.ne.jp>:
> Dear Brother Anthony,
> Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to give our input on
> this matter of the future of the RR romanization system.
> Since you seem to be directly involved in the meetings with the
> Competitiveness Committee, I would like to communicate one or two
> points to you directly.
> Mainly, regardless of the feelings of emotional attachment that anyone
> might have regarding one system or another, there seems to be a picture
> being painted on the part of McC-R advocates that virtually no one in
> the West has adopted the RR system. I would like to point out that this
> view is inaccurate.
> First, my online dictionaries--most importantly the Digital Dictionary
> of Buddhism [DDB], which, with almost 50,000 entries, is now a primary
> reference work in the field of Buddhist Studies (subscribed to by over
> 25 major university libraries)--has been using the RR system since its
> implementation in 2000.
> My decision to use RR in the DDB was based on having received a strong
> request from a number of Korean scholars at SNU and the Academy of
> Korean Studies who supported the new system to use it in my reference
> works. Thus, there are a lot of young scholars in the field of East
> Asian studies who have grown accustomed to RR, and use it regularly.
> Furthermore, the RR system was also embedded as the standard
> romanization of Korean in all software, as it became part of the
> government standard for computing. Thus any computer program that
> generates Korean readings (such as the the Korean readings generated in
> commercial translation packages, and web software such as Google), has
> also been using RR for almost a decade.
> If the Korean government suddenly abandons RR, it is going end up being
> a huge embarrassment for all of us who have supported it for these past
> ten years. It is also going to be a huge amount of work to retool and
> convert all web sources to.... to what?
> If RR is withdrawn today, and McR is made to be the standard, how do we
> know that this policy will not be reversed again in five years?
> Frankly, if the government makes this change at this point, I certainly
> will not be leaping to return to McCune-Reischauer. Because the real
> problem here, as it has always been, is the lack of any consistency in
> adhering to and supporting any kind of system.
> In fact, there is no doubt that the main reason so many scholars were
> reluctant to accept RR to begin with is not that it was inherently
> flawed, but because, based on their prior observations of the behavior
> of the Korean government, they had no confidence that the system would
> be firmly adhered to. Those who had such fears have seen their concerns
> Thus, regardless of the technical merits or demerits of any given
> system, a flip-flop on this matter at this point is certain to
> obliterate the confidence of another full generation of scholars in any
> official academic decisions that are made. No one will ever take the
> gamble to follow a new romanization, no matter how well-constructed it
> might be.
> I hope that you will convey these sentiments to the appropriate
> committee members.
> Charles Muller
> A. Charles Muller
> University of Tokyo
> Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, Faculty of Letters
> Center for Evolving Humanities
> Akamon kenky? t? #722
> 7-3-1 Hong?, Bunky?-ku
> Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
> Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought
> Mobile Phone: 090-9310-1787
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