“Internet centrist” on Sparkling Korea

November 7, 2007

70% of Korean words originate from Kanji(Hanja) [update2]

Filed under: Hangul,Korea — fuga @ 1:00 pm

I’ve been reading Korean newspapers in Korean, English and Japanese. Today, I was very surprised to read Japanese version of The Chosun Ilbo article mentioned this.

1995年のある日、成均館大中文科の全広鎮(チョン・グァンジン)教授に当時小学校4年生だった娘がこう聞いてきた。「お父さん、“トウゴウ”ってなに?」「うーん、それは“互いに同じであることを示す符号”をいうんだよ」「それじゃあ、どうしてそれを“とうごう”っていうの?」。その瞬間、全教授は頭がぼんやりとする気分に襲われた。「等しい“等”」「符号の“号”」ということさえ分かればよいのだが、(訳注:表音文字の)ハングル文字でトウゴウと表記しても、何も分からないのではないか。

In 1995, professor 全広鎮 at 成均館大 university was asked by his 9 years-old daughter.
“Daddy, what is tougou?” “That means an equal sign” “Then, why do you say tougou? ” That moment, the professor felt dizzy.. If only she knew “equal” as in “等”(tou) and “sign” as in “号”(gou)… There is no way of knowing what that is if you write that in Hangul…

韓国語の語彙の70%、学術用語の90%以上を占めている漢字語

The 70% of Korean words and 90% of academic words are Kanji-originated words.

from “韓国で出版された新しい漢字語辞典とは” The Chosun Ilbo 2007/11/06 16:48:35

This is something that normal Koreans deny right away or/and even get really really angry about.

In Meiji era, Japanese scholars imported various western ideas, modern technologies and medicine. When they tried to translate these ideas into Japanese, they had to invent new words. The Japanese word 自由(freedom), which was invented by Fukuzawa Yukichi, was actually taken from one of the Buddhism term “自に由る” or “Self-Reliance” (One’s independence creates one’s freedom). He also invented 演説(speech), 討論(debate), copyright(版権), economy(経済) and more.

Then, a lot of Japanese words, including those newly invented words, were introduced to Korea (and even China!).

For example,

English

culture, civilization, ideology, law, economy, capital, class, distribution, religion, philosophy, reason, sensibility, consciousness, subjectivity, objectivity, science, physics, chemistry, molecule, atom, mass, solid, time, space, theory, literature, art, comedy, tragedy, socialism, and communism….

Japanese

文化、文明、思想、法律、経済、資本、階級、分配、宗教、哲学、理性、感性、意識、主観、客観、科学、物理、化学、分子、原子、質量、固体、時間、空間、理論、文学、美術、喜劇、悲劇、社会主義、共産主義

Hangul:

문화, 문명, 사상, 법률, 경제, 자본, 계급, 분배, 종교, 철학, 이성, 감성, 의식, 주관, 객관, 과학, 물리, 화학, 분자, 원자, 질량, 고체, 시간, 공간, 이론, 문학, 미술, 희극, 비극, 사회주의, 공산주의

That’s why many of Korean words such as 약속(yak-sok meaning promise) , 미래(mirae meaning future) have similar pronunciation with Japanese pronunciation(yakusok and mirai).

Japanese Kanji words themselves convey their original meaning. But Hangul only represent series of sound, so it is hard to understand if you did not know the word. The Chosun Illbo article points out this problem.

For example, Japanese Kanji word 既視感(Déjà vu) consists with three basic characters 既(already) 視(seen) 感(feeling). So, even if you did not know the word, you understand what the word means. In Korean, in the other hand, it’s just series of meaningless sound if you did not know the word.

Koreans historically had had contempt for the use of Hangul until Korea(Chosun) gained independence from China(Sino) in 1895. Ever since Japanese introduced Hanja-Hangul mixed writing, Koreans started to have contempt for the use of Hanja(Kanji or Chinese characters) and eventually eliminated Hanja. I think Koreans are going little too extreme.

[update on November 22, 2007]

Chinese people also appreciate this Japanese invented words. “现代汉语中的日语“外来语”问题” According to the page,

  现代汉语中的日语“外来语”,数量是很惊人的。据统计,我们今天使用的社会和人文科学方面的名词、术语,有70%是从 日本输入的,这些都是日本人对西 方相应语词的翻译,传入中国后,便在汉语中牢牢扎根。我们每天用以高谈阔论、冥思苦想和说“东”道“西”时所用的概念,竟大都是日本人弄出来的,——想到 这一层,我的头皮就有些发麻。

70% of the words Chinese people use today are Japanese originated words. The author 王彬彬 gave us some examples.

组织(organization)、纪律、政治(politics)、革命(revolution)、政府 (government)、党(party)、方针(policy)、政策、申请、解决(solution)、理论、哲学(philosophy)、原则 … 经济(economy)、科学(science)、商业(commercial)、干部、健康(health)、社会主义(socialism)、资本主 义(capitalism)、法律(low)、封建、共和(republic)、美学、文学(literature)、美术、抽象 (abstract)…

However, this “70%” does not necessary mean that 70% out of ALL the words that existed in Chinese history. I think the count of the Japanese invented words in Chinese today is about a few thousands words or so, but they appear often(70%?) in the written papers or spoken language they use today.

Here is some more examples.

亜鉛、暗示、意訳、演出、大熊座、温度、概算、概念、概略、会談、会話、回収、改訂、解放、科学、化学、化膿、拡散、歌劇、仮定、活躍、関係、幹線、幹部、観点、間接、寒帯、議員、議院、議会、企業、喜劇、基準、基地、擬人法、帰納、義務、客観、教育学、教科書、教養、協会、協定、共産主義、共鳴、強制、業務、金婚式、金牌、金融、銀行、銀婚式、銀幕、緊張、空間、組合、軍国主義、警察、景気、契機、経験、経済学、経済恐慌、軽工業、形而上学、芸術、系統、劇場、化粧品、下水道、決算、権威、原子、原則、原理、現役、現金、現実、元素、建築、公民、講演、講座、講師、効果、広告、工業、高潮、高利貸、光線、光年、酵素、肯定、小熊座、国際、国税、国教、固体、固定、最恵国、債権、債務、採光、雑誌、紫外線、時間、時候、刺激、施工、施行、市場、市長、自治領、指数、指導、事務員、実感、実業、失恋、質量、資本家、資料、社会学、社会主義、宗教、集団、重工業、終点、主観、手工業、出発点、出版、出版物、将軍、消費、乗客、商業、証券、情報、常識、上水道、承認、所得税、所有権、進化、進化論、進度、人権、神経衰弱、信号、信託、新聞記者、心理学、図案、水素、成分、制限、清算、政策、政党、性能、積極、絶対、接吻、繊維、選挙、宣伝、総合、総理、総領事、速度、体育、体操、退役、退化、大気、代議士、代表、対象、単位、単元、探検、蛋白質、窒素、抽象、直径、直接、通貨収縮、通貨膨張、定義、哲学、電子、電車、電池、電波、電報、電流、電話、伝染病、展覧会、動員、動産、投資、独裁、図書館、特権、内閣、内容、任命、熱帯、年度、能率、背景、覇権、派遣、反響、反射、反応、悲劇、美術、否定、否認、必要、批評、評価、標語、不動産、舞台、物質、物理学、平面、方案、方式、方程式、放射、法人、母校、本質、漫画、蜜月、密度、無産階級、目的、目標、唯心論、唯物論、輸出、要素、理想、理念、立憲、流行病、了解、領海、領空、領土、倫理学、類型、冷戦、労働組合、労働者、論壇、論理学、腺、糎

入口、海抜、学会、簡単、記号、巨星、金額、権限、原作、堅持、公認、公立、小型、克服、故障、財閥、作者、参観、支配、支部、実権、実績、失効、私立、重点、就任、主動、成員、銭、組成、大局、立場、単純、出口、手続、取消、内服、日程、場合、場所、備品、平仮名、広場、服務、不景気、方針、明確、流感

-taken from here.

[related post]
“Korean history is 5000 years old” business

[For Korean people] I must add that there is nothing to be ashamed of borrowing words from other culture. But it is shameful not telling the truth.
.

.

Damn!! This page contains English and Korean and Japanese and Chinese! Do I read them all?? lol

13 Comments »

  1. Soon, it will all be too late. All that hate and confusion will boil over and either Korea will have to accept its own stupid failings, or perish into China and lose its independence again.

    Can’t you Koreans see China is a strong, breathing dragon again? They’re dying to take control of that Peninsula just like they tried 50 years ago, when they realized that giving Korea its independence was the biggest economic and territorial mistake they ever made. China needs that peninsula to open up its doors to the oceans from there.

    Comment by K — November 7, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

  2. >Soon, it will all be too late.

    I guess Koreans have started to realize the signs of rising China. That’s why the term “sandwich Korea”(meaning Korea between China and Japan) and Chinese Characters/Kanji study are becoming popular in South Korea. Is it too late? I don’t know.

    And don’t underestimate Korea! She somehow survived under Mongolian, Chinese and Japanese empires!

    Comment by toru — November 7, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  3. Didn’t these words come into Korea from the Chinese kanji/language rather than via Japan?

    Comment by G — November 8, 2007 @ 10:49 am

  4. >G
    Nop.
    Kanji-characters originates from China as you know. But words are different matter.

    Let me give you an example. China’s official name is 中华人民共和国(中華人民共和国) in Chinese characters. The word “中华” is Chinese origin, but “人民”(people) and “共和国”(republic) are Japanese origin. You know WHY?

    As I explained in my post, there were NO concept/ideas such as “republic” or “democracy”(ok this one does not exist in today’s China yet lol) before Japanese imported these western ideas and created corresponding words.

    China, Korea and other Asian countries were poisoned by Sino-centrism and thought western civilization was barbarous.

    See my old post,
    https://koreasparkling.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/must-read-korea-and-her-neighbours-by-isabella-l-bird-bishop/

    Comment by toru — November 8, 2007 @ 11:30 am

  5. So maybe 70% of Korean words originate from Kanji, but are you suggesting that all of that 70% came via Japanese and 0% from Chinese?

    Comment by G — November 8, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

  6. >G
    I see your point. Oh boy, this is messy. First of all, you have to define what a word is. “国”(country) is a character but also a word. But “国民”(national) is a word not a character. And most of the characters are originally from China. So the number “70%” in the article may include those characters/words as well.

    Secondly, there are good chance that Koreans use many China-originated words, but they pronounce the same way as Japanese do(or similar; (若干)jyakkan->yakkan). In a way, they are using Japanese or Japanese-originated spoken words that uses China-originated written words. Do you get it? This is pretty complicated.

    Last time I checked, Kanji/Hanja originated words in Korea were mostly spoken very similar to the Japanese pronunciations. However, since I cannot confirm the exact number and their origin, I think I should remove “Japanese” from the title.

    Thanks G. It was a good comment.

    Comment by toru — November 8, 2007 @ 5:25 pm

  7. It’s interesting. My knowledge of Korean is very limited but I understood that many of the pronunciations were similar because both languages used Chinese kanji and adopted some of the sounds that went with them. With Korean this link has been broken on the written side but sounds remain. With Japanese many of the ‘on-yomi’ remain from Chinese.

    I was surprised when I was in Korea for the 2002 World Cup and when the staff in the bar I was drinking in gave us the bill, I understood some of the numbers (I speak Japanese but no Korean). I think the number was something like ‘yon man….’. (Or maybe I was drunk and just thought I understood!) When I asked people they told me it was due to the common Chinese roots of parts of both languages.

    Anyway, fair play to you for changing the wording of the title.

    Comment by G — November 9, 2007 @ 12:17 am

  8. Oh? just because some Chinese characters were pronounced by Koreans and Japanese in a similar way, that makes automatic the Koreans borrowed the japanses pronunciations? (i am trying hard to make sense out of this but … where is the LOGIC ??) (and i doubt there are many similar pronunciations)

    And if this logic holds, then Buddism must have gone to China, and skipped Korea, and went to Janan and finally it made a magical U-Turn and came to Korea. And all other cultural benefits Japan acquired (and sometimes stole) from the “west”

    And … (this is a good one) if the Koreans were so influnced by the Japanese culture, there must be so many Shinto Koreans and we will see many Penis statues all over Korea too. There are more Japanse buying American cars each year than there are Koreans worshipping in this Japanse religion in entire history.

    This Shinto alone tells us it has always been One Way Traffic!

    And next time you want to write something about Korea, look up to the ceiling and think why there is no Koreans believing in Shintoism while many Japanese belive in Buddism…

    Comment by Young Gun — November 18, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

  9. Mr Young Gun.

    Your comment does not seem to be worth replying, but …

    >This Shinto alone tells us it has always been One Way Traffic!

    You’re telling me that you don’t know a thing about Korea(n history).

    Comment by toru — November 18, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  10. To all Americans who happened to visit this site by chance..

    Japanese are taught in school that it was the U.S. who started the World War II by tricking Japan to attack the U.S..

    Need I say more..

    And to all Chinese visitors,

    Japanese believes that the Nanking masscre in which the Japanese killed more than 300,000 Chinese within a week never happened..

    Japanese are incapable of telling truth

    It’s really sad… Except for having a problem with being honest, they are not so bad people

    Comment by Bob — November 19, 2007 @ 7:50 am

  11. I thought about deleting the previous “Bob”‘s comment because it’s got nothing to do with my post and I know Bob’s telling a lie.

    But I decided to leave it as is just to show those Koreans(Japan haters) don’t have any logic or proof to back their claims. They can’t argue, and refuse to admit, so they just attack. Bob’s comment is a good example of Korean supporters.

    Those fanatics give me a motive to keep writing the blog these days.

    Comment by toru — November 19, 2007 @ 7:58 am

  12. Mr Toru
    In reference to your #9 comment, you are right in that I don’t know everything about Korea or Korean History.

    I am so sorry for implying Shintoism is purely Japanese and has the Japanese origin. (I thought Japan invented something else besides the VCR, then again someone will argue is VCR an invention?)

    It turns out Shinto too went from Korea to Japan (just like many other cultral benefits Japan got from Korea throughout history)

    I will quote :

    “Individual tribes or clans, which originally crossed over to Japan from Korea, generally held onto their Shinto beliefs even after they were organized into coherent and centralized states. ”

    http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ANCJAPAN/SHINTO.HTM

    SO THIS WAS HISTORY. Now… this does not mean there are many Shinto followers in Korea today. So if you ever thought Shito is even remotely popular in Korea, your schools taught you wrong.

    Comment by Young Gun — November 21, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

  13. Mr Young Gun. You again.

    Why you always change the subject?? Is it because you just don’t want to admit, but you can’t argue rationally? And you believe all Asian civilizations originate from Korea just like other fanatic Korean people do?

    You are acting just like I said in the post. “This is something that normal Koreans deny right away or/and even get really really angry about.” You must be a typical Korean I’ve known for sometime.

    By the way, I will delete comments that has nothing to do with my post.

    Comment by toru — November 22, 2007 @ 9:53 am


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