Ancient Korean Names

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Aakheperenre
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Ancient Korean Names

Postby Aakheperenre » 2008-09-25, 18:44

I've noticed that the legendary founder of 고조선(古朝鮮), the first Korean kingdom, is called 단군왕검(檀君王儉). The next emperor is called 부루(夫婁). The next is called 가륵(嘉勒). The next is called 오사구(烏斯丘). The next is 구을(丘乙). The next is 달문(達文).
What do all these emperor's names have in common? They are all Sino-Korean names. The thing is is that Chinese characters probably did not enter Korea any earlier than 500 A.D. This is over 2,000 years after the establishment of 고조선(古朝鮮) in 2,333 B.C. During the time of 고조선(古朝鮮) the people would have been speaking Proto-Korean.
I would have expected these ancient Korean emperors to have native Korean names but they don't. Even the placenames from this era are Sino-Korean.
So, does this mean that even Proto-Korean had already been strongly influenced by Chinese, even before the borrowing of Chinese characters?
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Re: Ancient Korean Names

Postby Karavinka » 2008-09-25, 22:14

Aakheperenre wrote:I've noticed that the legendary founder of 고조선(古朝鮮), the first Korean kingdom, is called 단군왕검(檀君王儉). The next emperor is called 부루(夫婁). The next is called 가륵(嘉勒). The next is called 오사구(烏斯丘). The next is 구을(丘乙). The next is 달문(達文).
What do all these emperor's names have in common? They are all Sino-Korean names. The thing is is that Chinese characters probably did not enter Korea any earlier than 500 A.D. This is over 2,000 years after the establishment of 고조선(古朝鮮) in 2,333 B.C. During the time of 고조선(古朝鮮) the people would have been speaking Proto-Korean.
I would have expected these ancient Korean emperors to have native Korean names but they don't. Even the placenames from this era are Sino-Korean.
So, does this mean that even Proto-Korean had already been strongly influenced by Chinese, even before the borrowing of Chinese characters?


Are you sure?

There are two possibilities.

1. They are phonetic transcriptions into Chinese.
2. They are translated into Chinese.

Up to the Silla period, people (especially higher-ranking) used two names - one fully Sinicised name, analogous to the Modern variants, and the other native Korean name transcribed phonetically in characters. The names are written using the characters, but it would be understandable since they did not have any other mean of writing. First surviving document written by a Korean is in Chinese, about 4th century AD.

Say, 古朝鮮 - 古 is a later addition in order to disambiguate from the much later Kingdom 朝鮮. What does 朝鮮 mean? It is widely suggested that it originally was a transcription of a certain Native sound - and they took some trouble to pick the letters which mean something good as well. On the same line, the names of all three kingdoms (and other minor states) and the names of their magistral offices are all native Korean, which perplexed later historians - they couldn't even guess what a position would do, unless without research.

One more thing: I don't know where you got this line of Kings, but beware that we know next to nothing about this state. Was it a formal state at all, or a loose group of people who went by the name Choson? There has been an antiquity frenzy since late nineteenth century and a number of false historical documents "rediscovered."
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Re: Ancient Korean Names

Postby Aakheperenre » 2008-09-29, 1:56

noir wrote:There are two possibilities.

1. They are phonetic transcriptions into Chinese.
2. They are translated into Chinese.

Up to the Silla period, people (especially higher-ranking) used two names - one fully Sinicised name, analogous to the Modern variants, and the other native Korean name transcribed phonetically in characters. The names are written using the characters, but it would be understandable since they did not have any other mean of writing. First surviving document written by a Korean is in Chinese, about 4th century AD.

I see. That makes sense.

noir wrote:I don't know where you got this line of Kings,

From the omniscient Wikipedia, of course! :mrgreen:
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Re: Ancient Korean Names

Postby Karavinka » 2008-09-29, 3:10

Just to add a few more notes.

There can be multiple transcriptions for the same name, whose modern phonetics don't match anymore. For example, the name of the founding King of Goguryeo is known as Jumong, but this is only one. Samguk Sagi lists two: 추모(鄒牟) or 주몽(朱蒙). Although his name is nowadays known as simply "Jumong" in Korean, his "true" name would be a subject of historical linguistic analysis. Still, these two names sound similar enough.

Another example is 연개소문(淵蓋蘇文). His name is recorded as 伊梨柯須彌(이리가수미) in Nihon Shoki, whose modern Japanese phonetic is Iri Kasumi. Since the Nihon Shoki name appears to be Manyogana-like transcription, it would be more "phonetic" name - but then still, a Kana is a Kana and we all know Kana sucks for non-Japanese names. As far as we know, his name is not a Sinicised one, but his surname might have been. An alternative version of his name gives 천(泉) instead of 연(淵), whose meanings are similar. Then, iri "could" have been a transcription of the original Goguryeo word for "spring" or "pond."

There might even have been Kunyomi-like practices in Korean as well. A quote from Samguk Sagi (requoted from Korean Wikipedia "고대 한국어")

永同郡本吉同郡(영동군본길동군)
Yeongdong County is originally Gildong County.

永 and 吉 are interchangeable hered despite their entirely different phonetics. But there is a connection - if 永 (long) had a "Kun" of Gil-, surviving in modern Korean "길다"(to be long), this makes sense. From this, one may hypothesize that *kil- is a reconstructable word, although it would have to be tested against more examples.

A late sixth-century song, allegedly composed by King Mu of Baekje:

서동요 (薯童謠)

善化公主隱 선화공주주은
密只嫁良置古 밀지가량직고
薯童房乙 서동방을
矣卯乙抱遣去如 야의묘을포견거여

善化公主: Chinese loanword.
: "Kunyomi"
隱: Phonetic transcription.

The princess Seonhwa
In a love made secret
Embraces Seodong
and goes secretly in the night

----
That said, historical Korean linguistics is an extremely controversial field of research. The problems multiple because they didn't have a phonetic script so far, everything is pretty much analogous to Manyo period Japanese, and the paucity of surviving materials doesn't make it easier.
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Re: Ancient Korean Names

Postby Aakheperenre » 2008-09-30, 17:05

Very interesting stuff. :)

noir wrote:There can be multiple transcriptions for the same name, whose modern phonetics don't match anymore. For example, the name of the founding King of Goguryeo is known as Jumong, but this is only one. Samguk Sagi lists two: 추모(鄒牟) or 주몽(朱蒙). Although his name is nowadays known as simply "Jumong" in Korean, his "true" name would be a subject of historical linguistic analysis. Still, these two names sound similar enough.

That's true. His name is also transcribed in other records as 추몽(鄒蒙), 중모(中/仲牟) & 도모(都牟).

noir wrote:An alternative version of his name gives 천(泉) instead of 연(淵), whose meanings are similar.

That comes from Tang (唐: táng) Chinese historical records. 淵 (Mandarin: yuan) was the given name of Emperor Gaozu (高祖: Gao Zǔ) of Tang [李淵: Lǐ Yuan], founder and first emperor of Tang, and thus taboo to apply to another by Chinese tradition.
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Re: Ancient Korean Names

Postby Karavinka » 2008-10-01, 5:01

Aakheperenre wrote:
noir wrote:An alternative version of his name gives 천(泉) instead of 연(淵), whose meanings are similar.

That comes from Tang (唐: táng) Chinese historical records. 淵 (Mandarin: yuan) was the given name of Emperor Gaozu (高祖: Gao Zǔ) of Tang [李淵: Lǐ Yuan], founder and first emperor of Tang, and thus taboo to apply to another by Chinese tradition.


True, but they didn't pick an arbitrary character either. The substitute is either same phonetic or same meaning, and this case it is clearly the latter.
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Re: Ancient Korean Names

Postby Myeong » 2009-08-05, 21:38

Dear Karavinka, when I see what you write in such topics, I can tell you're definitely 학자 material... :wink:


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