Book

The World of the “Hunmin Chǒng" The World of the “Hunmin Chǒng"

Lev Kontsevich

The World of the “Hunmin Chǒng"

Pervoe marta

Moskva, 2013, 586 pages

ISBN: 978-5-8125-1884-4

The book includes selected works by the author on the phonetics and writing of the Korean language. The first monument of Korean literature, “Hunmin Chǒng'ǔm” (“Instruction of the People in the Correct Pronunciation”) (hereafter Hch), is the most important historical and linguistic source of the medieval Korean culture and the cornerstone of the traditional Korean philology. There is a wealth of literature in Korean, Japanese, and Western languages dealing with various aspects of the Korean alphabet and its first monument. Yet an examination of this abundant literature reveals many gaps. Uncovered ground includes all the sources of Hch pertaining to the typology of writing and to the influences of medieval phonetic theories and philosophical speculations on the origin and realization of the idea of a phonetic alphabet among Koreans. The linguistic interpretation of the ideas expressed in the Hch is far from irreproachable; the phonemic reconstruction of the system of sounds of Middle Korean based on the Hch is hypothetical in many aspects. Furthermore, the creation of a phonetic Korean alphabet, which was in fact a covert challenge by Korea to the official culture of the traditionally ideographic East Asia, has not been sufficiently appreciated on the historical level. In this publication, the author summarizes a number of the most essential problems in the study of Hch which, to his mind, are to be solved by the contemporary Korean linguistics. Without these solutions, there will be no further progress in this field of knowledge. The work ends with a vast bibliography. The Supplement contains a facsimile of three versions of the Hch text: Haeryebon, Ǒnhaebon and Sillokpon, and illustrations. The book is meant primarily for philologists – experts in Korean studies, lecturers and students, as well as for all those who are interested in the history of the Korean culture and the linguistic traditions of the East.

Contents

Preface
PART 1. Modern Korean. Phonetics. Alphabet. Transcription
Section 1. Sounds of modern Korean (Brief description of the phonemic structure)
A. Consonants
1. Some phonetic and phonological features of Korean consonants
2. Classification of Korean consonants
3. Description of Korean consonants
4. Alternations of consonants at syllable boundaries inside the word
B. Vowels
1. Some general features of Korean vowels
2. Description of Korean vowels
C. A short bibliography of works on Korean phonetics
Section 2. The modern Korean alphabet
1. Korean writing
2. The nominations of the letters and their alphabetical order in the Republic of
Korea and in the North Korea
3. Specific features of the Korean alphabet in terms of the general theory of writing
systems
Section 3. Transcription
1. Russian and Roman systems of broad transcription of Korean words and proper
names
2. The "New Romanization" of the Korean language: expectations and realities
3. The project of "New Romanization" of Korean writing that may cause
destabilization in the area of written communication
PART II. The first monument of Korean script "Hunminchǒng'ǔm"
Section 1. The cultural and historical background for creating the Korean phonetic
writing
1. Sejong and his epoch
2. The "Golden Age" of Korean culture
Section 2. From the history of "Hunminchǒng'ǔm"
1. Motives for the introduction of the Korean alphabet
2. On the issue of the origins of Korean letters
3. The process of creating "Hunminchǒng'ǔm". The problems of its dating.
4. The issue of the authorship
5. A brief survey of existing versions and editions of "Hunminchǒng'ǔm". A
genealogical scheme of "Hunminchǒng'ǔm"’s texts.
Section 3: "Manual of correct pronunciation for the people, supplemented with
explanations and examples" ("Hunminchǒng'ǔmhaerye", 1446). (Annotated
translation)
Translation from Hanmun
Comments.
Glossaries
Full glossary of Korean words recorded in the "Haeryebon" version
Glossary of terms in "Hunminchǒng'ǔm" terms
(based on the "Haeryebon" version)
Section 4. The theory of the Korean writing system in "Hunminchǒng'ǔm"
Basic linguistic concepts in "Hunminchǒng'ǔm"
Fundamentals of linguistic theory in "Hunminchǒng'ǔm" (an attempt of interpreting
the meta-language of the first monument of the Korean alphabet)
"Hunminchǒng'ǔm" and its impact on the traditional Korean culture
Some problems raised by study of "Hunminchǒng'ǔm"
Supplement. Bibliography
The basic literature on "Hunminchǒng'ǔm", on the history of the Korean alphabet and
on historical phonetics
A list of Lev R.Kontsevich’s works on the Korean alphabet and its first monument
"Hunminchǒng'ǔm"
PART III. The facsimile of "Hunminchǒng'ǔm" originals
Haeryebon
Ǒnhaebon
Sillokpon
Illustrations

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