Re: Q.'s about hanja

From: John Cowan (
Date: Tue Nov 07 2000 - 12:16:31 EST

SoHee Kim wrote:

> What do you mean by genuinely Korean words?
> We had our own words even before Hangul was made. But this doesn't mean these
> words are derived from Chinese.

Many Korean words, however, are unquestionably derived from Chinese. One example,
given in the Unicode Standard at pp. 260-61, is *thangmyen* < Chinese *tanmen*
'soup noodles'. The question of whether a Korean *word* is derived from Chinese
is quite separate from the question of whether it is *written* using a Chinese
character at one period or another.

> Before King SeJong made Hangul at 1446, since
> we didn't have other characters to write, we used Hanja.
> There are Korean words that can be written in Hangul or Hanja. And there are
> some that can be written only in Hangul.

So until five centuries ago, all words whether borrowed from Chinese or not had
to be written with Chinese characters, no other writing being available.

The question is: Are the words that can be written in modern practice using Hanja
exclusively those borrowed from Chinese?

There is / one art                   || John Cowan <>
no more / no less                    ||
to do / all things                   ||
with art- / lessness                 \\ -- Piet Hein

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