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Postby maxiewawa » July 28th, 2008 12:52 pm

Korean is getting popular in China. It used to be that you'd see language schools advertising 英语 (영어) and 其他语言 (everything else). Then some started advertising Japanese as a selling point. Japanese got promoted from being classified as part of "everything else" into being its own selling point. Recently Korean has also been elevated from classified as "everything else" to being a product in itself.

But weirdly, the Korean language is alternatively translated as 韩国语 (literally 한국어) or 朝语/朝鲜语 ( 조어/조선어 respectively).

In case you weren't aware 조선 is an alternative word for 한국. Wikipedia says that 조선 is "the Korean word for Korea, during various periods of its history". South Korea has named itself 한국, and North Korea has kept 조선.

Be that as it may, I found it strange that the Chinese advertise languages lessons in 朝语/조어. No offence to the only other sovereign country that speaks the language that we're all learning but I found it weird that the Chinese still use 조선어 as a word.

Do any other languages use 조선 or its equivalent? I remember now that the Japanese word for North Korea isn't "North 한국" but "North 조선".

And it also occurs to me that the English word "Korea" is more likely to be taken from 조선 than 한국, it sounds much more like 조선 than 한국.

I think that Chinese has the best system though; they take 韩国 to refer to 한국 (sounds almost the same, taken from the 한자) and 朝鲜 to refer to 조선 (likewise taken from the 한자.

So which (non Korean) countries use 조선 and which 한국? And what's the difference?

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Postby hyunwoo » July 28th, 2008 4:47 pm

Interesting post! : )

What I'm gonna write might be a little bit off-topic, but just wanted to share some info :)

Korea had several names in history depending on what dynasty was ruling the country (or depending on certain times in the history, separated nations).

The word "Korea" came from " 고려 (高麗) " - 고려 is the name of the Korean dynasty that existed from the year 918 to 1392, for about 450 years. Back then a lot of traders from overseas came to Korea and asked the local people what the country is called - and people told them that it's "고려" - thus the name Corea which was later changed to Korea in English.

But actually the name that people were using domestically when the international society started calling Korea 'Korea' was 조선 - it was the last dynasty in Korea before it became '대한제국' - which later became '한국' or '대한민국' :)

While Korean people know for a fact that 조선 is just the name of the last dynasty of Korea, people don't want to be called 조선 사람 or their language called 조선어 because 1) they want it to be 한국 사람 and 한국어 and 2) a lot of people have bad memories from the colonization era or after that when Japanese people would still call Korean 'chousenjin' while Korea existed and it wasn't Chosun any more. :)

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Postby SiEd » July 28th, 2008 4:57 pm

And Joseon is where the unfortunate English moniker for Korea came from: "Land of the Morning Calm".
"I'm trying to make a pun, but it's not punny."
-Mas Widiyanto

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