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Февраль 27, 2007

About the probable writing of Koreans

Автор 04:44. Рубрика Статьи на английском языке


About the probable writing of Koreans

V.A. Chudinov

As known the Korean is a language from the Altai languages family. So from the point of view of the Russian Linguistic Encyclopedia Dictionary «from the various hypotheses of the genetic relationship of the Korean the most popular is so called the Altai one, the representations of which being based on the phonetic coordination, structural similarity and etymological data whether derivate the Korean (sometimes with the Japan) from the Tungus-Manchzhur branch or determine as a special branch separated earlier than other, near the 3000 years BC»1. The Altai family today includes Turks, Mongols, Tungus-Manchzhur, Korean and Japan languages. But some investigators note that now there are great difficulties before the reconstruction of the Altai pra-language that makes the hypothesis about the relationship of the Altai languages not quite grounded2. But other hypotheses are absent too.

Inside this hypothesis there are not many variants. So A.A. Reformatsky considers that as the 4-th group of the Altai languages there exist «some languages of Far East not entering in some other groups» (which perhaps are near to the Altai ones); to them he can count except the Japan and Korean the languages of Ruku and of Ains as well. The first memorials of the Korean writing came from the IV century AD and are based on the China hierogliphics3. So, if the Koreans before this time have used some writing, it was one on the other basis. But was on which?

If the Turk peoples have had their own writing, so called Turk runes, why the Koreans might not use a variant of these runes? But here can be some difficulties with the chronology. So, as thinks a specialist in old Turk writing I.L. Kyzlassov, «the Don, Kuban, South Yenissei, Achiktashsky and, probably Ispharin alphabets appeared finally as we can believe as early as in VIII century. The most probably is that their paleographic peculiarities were formed in the conditions of the early state institutions, which have changed the alphabet-prototype with their needs. Thinking about this alphabet-prototype we have not to forget that already at the end of VI century AD (581 year) the First Turk Kaganat dissociates on the West and East ones with the centers in Sevenrivers and Orkhon. The runic writing (Orkhon alphabet) appears only in Second East Turk Kaganat (682-745 years). In the beginning of that period appears the Yenissei writing. As we see the existing materials allow us to count to this epoch the creation of the alphabet-prototype of the Eurasian alphabet. If it is so then the process of the writing origin inside the Turk peoples of the middle Ages quite corresponds to the steps of appearing of their state status»4. Believing that the determination of the dates of the concrete Turk alphabets was made by the archeologist I.L. Kyzlassov as by the great specialist, I cannot agree with his dating of the writing-prototype. As the history of writing shows the writing-prototype usually exists many centuries, often even not one millennium, and never appeared at the same time when appear the derivate from it local alphabets. Often the writing-prototype is another type of writing, i.e. the syllabic writing, meanwhile the derivate from it concrete ethnic samples of writing are the alphabetic ones. So, if we speak about the family of European alphabets of the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, German runes writing type, and equally about the writing of Etruscan, Venetian, Retian and of other peoples we suppose that they all originate somewhere in the middle of the first millennium BC from the Slavic Runica (a writing of syllabic type), although the first memorials of it on the some reasons occur 5-6, sometimes 10-15 centuries later. Beside of them the origin of the writing is not connected with the appearing of the state as it was common among the scholars at the Soviet time (so in Scandinavia the state appeared near the X century AD whereas the runic writing came in the broad using already in the first century AD).

This makes sure the assumption about the Korean writing which before the introduction of the China graphics could exist in the shape of the Turk runes or as the Turk writing-prototype (in this case it was probably a syllabic one). To such assumption we can come from several analogies: so, in Greece before the Greek alphabet there was a syllabic writing “Linear B” (it was detected only in the XX century); in India before the Indo-European and characters in its ground writing Devanaghary there existed a syllabic writing Brahmy, and the Dravid Indians used the syllabic writing found during the excavations in Mohenjo-Daro. And if the Korean language belonged to a brunch of the Altai languages it is the most natural assumption that the old Koreans have had such old Altai graphics.

The future archaeological excavations on the old Korean settlements (not only in the Korean peninsula) have whether to support or to reject this hypothesis.


1. Концевич Л.Р. Корейский язык // Лингвистический энциклопедический словарь. М., 1990, с. 240

2. Кормушин И.В. Алтайские языки // Там же, с. 28

3. Реформатский А.А. Введение в языковедение. М. 1999, с. 429

4. Кызласов И.Л. Рунические письменности евразийских степей. М., 1994, с. 220

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