Eastern clouds and nutacism

Japanese 東雲 shinonome “daybreak” is curiously written with Chinese characters for “east” and “cloud”. Since there is a Late Old Korean word 詞腦 *sinɔ that means “east”, it seems plausible that shinonome reflects an ancient borrowing from Old Korean. However, the remaining part looks nothing like Late Middle Korean 구룸 kwulwum /kurum/ or Early Middle… Continue reading Eastern clouds and nutacism

Chinese first palatalization and Old Korean transcriptions

It is well known that the characters 支 and 只 (Late Old Chinese *ke > Early Middle Chinese tsye /tɕie/) usually stand for Old Korean *kV (*kɛ in my reconstruction, *ki in the traditional reconstruction) in Old Korean transcriptions, reflecting Chinese pronunciation before the so-called “Chinese first palatalization” (*k-, *g-, *ŋ- > tsy- /tɕ/, dzy-… Continue reading Chinese first palatalization and Old Korean transcriptions

Writing Old Korean *r

Early Middle Chinese (and Late Old Chinese, depending on variety) did not have the coda /r/, which resulted in a number of interesting strategies to transcribe Old Korean *CVr(V). One is to use Late Old Chinese medial *-r-, which was covered in the previous post. Another is to use the coda -ng, -n, or -t… Continue reading Writing Old Korean *r

Old Chinese medial *-r- and Early Old Korean transcriptions

It is well known that the Chinese character 買 meaX (< Late Old Chinese *mˤrɛʔ) in Old Korean toponyms stood for the Old Korean word for “water” (Lee & Ramsey 2011: 37ff). Traditionally, Korean scholars have regarded 買, which they read *mʌj or *mi based on the attested Sino-Korean reading of the character, as a… Continue reading Old Chinese medial *-r- and Early Old Korean transcriptions

Hare or dare

The character 菟 has two Middle Chinese readings thuH (< Late Old Chinese *tʰˤas) and du (< Late Old Chinese *dˤa); the former is homophonous with 兔 thuH “hare” (< Late Old Chinese *tʰˤas). Consequently, if one is asked how to read 菟 in 玄菟, the name of a commandery that was established in the… Continue reading Hare or dare

Silla royal villas and Old Korean scribal abbreviations

The Samguk sagi section on officials (volumes 38–40) lists twelve consecutive government offices that existed in the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla whose names end in 宮典 “palace-office” (volume 39; there are two exceptions 坐山典 and 弘峴宮, but they are clearly corruptions of 坐山宮典 and 弘峴宮典). The purpose of these offices has been unknown, but… Continue reading Silla royal villas and Old Korean scribal abbreviations

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