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February 01, 2006




thought, language, reality

This Friday, at the Center for Korean Studies in Berkeley, one of those smart know-it-alls are giving one of those colloquium things. Here's a cut of an abstract that I read to be thought-turning:

A multitude of contemporary Korean words indispensable for the representation of thoughts and feelings, such as `sahoi (society)', 'kwonri (rights)' or 'haengbok (happiness)', often believed to have developed from traditional Korean vocabulary, were in fact imported from Japan at the end of the 19th century. Japanese scholars translated the terms of Western civilization which they encountered shortly before such cultural contact by their Korean counterparts. Unfamiliar Western meanings rendered in Chinese characters were conveyed to the Korean people with relatively little resistance. The vocabulary entry of four dictionaries of foreign languages published in Korea, Japan, and in China in the turn of the century provide an overview of the adaptation of foreign words; and various contemporaneous periodical texts confirm that such abstract words were widely employed in Korean society by the early 20th century. The dawn of the 20th century thus marks the beginning of "modern" reasoning and western notions of life style and emotion that took shape through the use of abstract words quite familiar to Koreans nowadays.

Emphasis added by me.

Dude, I don't know if this stuff is true, but it's fascinating shit. The psych-phil-linguistics geekboy in me just feels all warm and fuzzy thinking about such delectable deliberations.





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