Linguist to Discuss Cross-National Use of Chinese Characters

The sec­ond Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies 2012 spring col­lo­qui­um will fea­ture Seoul Nation­al Uni­ver­si­ty emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of lin­guis­tics Yong-Kun Ko, whose pre­sen­ta­tion “Stan­dard­iza­tion of the Kore­an Lan­guage and Writ­ing Sys­tem” will take place Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 7, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Center’s con­fer­ence room.

Tra­di­tion­al­ly Chi­na, Tai­wan, Japan, Korea, Oki­nawa, and Viet­nam formed a “Chinese char­ac­ter sphere,” a so-called Schrift-Sprach­bund (script-lan­guage union). The peo­ple of these coun­tries com­mu­ni­cat­ed with the com­mon script hanzi (æ¼¢å­ — ) and com­mon writ­ten lan­guage han­men (æ¼¢æ – ‡). After mod­ern­iza­tion, how­ev­er, Korea took its native script, hangul, as an offi­cial writ­ing sys­tem. Sim­i­lar­ly, Viet­nam took the Roman alpha­bet as its offi­cial writ­ing, Japan has estab­lished a sys­tem of every­day-use hanzi, Chi­na has cre­at­ed a sys­tem of sim­pli­fied char­ac­ters, and Tai­wan adheres to tra­di­tion­al full-form characters. 

A cru­cial lin­guis­tic issue is how to stan­dard­ize the vari­ants of hanzi for effi­cient mutu­al writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion across these coun­tries. Pro­fes­sor Ko is propos­ing that a new form of lan­guage-cul­ture union be estab­lished through stan­dard­iz­ing Chi­nese char­ac­ters in a way that meets the needs of the twen­ty-first century.

Yong-Kun Ko has pub­lished more than thir­ty authored, coau­thored, or edit­ed books on var­i­ous aspects of the Kore­an lan­guage. Recent pub­li­ca­tions include: 북한및 재외교민의 철자법집성 (Kore­an spellings in North Korea and over­seas, 2000), ì — ­ëŒ€í•œêµ­ë¬¸ë²•ì˜ 통합적ì — °êµ¬ (A com­pre­hen­sive study of Kore­an gram­mars, 2001), 문법과 텍스트 (Gram­mar and Text, 2002), 북한의 문법ì — °êµ¬ì™€ 문법교육 (Gram­mar Research and Edu­ca­tion in North Korea, 2004), 중세국ì – ´ 문법형태소의 형태론과 음운론 (Mid­dle Kore­an mor­phol­o­gy and phonol­o­gy, 2007), 주시경의 êµ­ì – ´ë¬¸ë²• (Chu Sigyong’s Kore­an Gram­mar, 2011), and 개정 중세국ì – ´ì˜ 시상과 서법 (Revised Tense, Aspect, and Modal­i­ty in Mid­dle Kore­an, 2011). Many of his writ­ings can be found on line at

Cen­ter for Kore­an Stud­ies col­lo­quia are free and open to all. The Cen­ter is locat­ed at 1881 East-West Road on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawaii at Manoa cam­pus. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on access for the hand­i­capped, tele­phone (808) 956‑7041.