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From: "Don Osborn" <dzo@xxxxxx>
To: qalam @ yahoogroups . com
Subject: Korea, Corea, (chorea?), Corée & the history of K
Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 16:27:48 -0000

A discussion on the Unicode list may be more appropriate here=20 (appended below in chrono order). It ends up asking about the=20 history of the letter K. One might equally well ask the history of C=20 as it can stand for a number of different sounds in different=20 languages or positions (s, k, ch, ts).

Don Osborn

1. Patrick Andries noted:
> Concerning CJK read somewhere Korea wanted to be named Corea in English

2. I (Don Osborn) reacted:
Although I admit to not quite understanding the motivation for this suggestion, it seems first of all like a step backward to replace a K with a C from a worldwide point of view - c has many different pronunciations in different languages and positions; k is pretty constant (so "Korea" from English can be very easily taken in similar form in other languages whereas "Corea" would not). And besides, the version with a c in English calls to mind chorea, which is not a fortuitous resemblance.

3. Patrick replied:

> Although I admit to not quite understanding the motivation for this
> suggestion,

Request by 22 MPs that want to modify the English spelling by law.

Because according to the articles this was the original English spelling before the occupying Japanese authorities changed the initial C by a K so that Korea would follow Japan in alphabetical order.

Apparently Nord and South Corea(s) want to participate in the 2004 Olympic Games under the letter C (=BB Sie geht so weit, dass die beiden L=E4nder bei den Olympischen Spielen 2004 gemeinsam mit dem C im Namen antreten wollen. =DCberhaupt soll das Weltsportfest der eigentliche Grund f=FCr die koloniale Buchstabensuppe sein. =AB)

4. Philippe Verdy offered:
> Request by 22 MPs that want to modify the English spelling by law.

Note that french has always written "Corée (la République de)": words that start by a "K" or contain a "k" are extremely rare in french.

Almost all (if not all) french words with a "k" are imported from foreign orthographs, such as "koala (un)" (the small animal), "rack (un)" or "break (un)" or "week-end (un)" (imported from english), "kurde" or "Kurdistan" (transliteration from Arabic script, and similar phonetics).

It's simply because french does not mark the difference of pronunciation between "c" and "k" (and uses instead the "ch" digraph to mark the greek letter khi, or "qu" to mark the Arabic "q").There's no tradition in French for East-Asian languages, so they are written with the common french orthograph based or Latin or Greek radicals.

I'm curious to know more about the history of "k" in English. I think it may have been imported from Nordic languages which had some common history with Uralic languages (which have spread in Eastern Europe from Finland to Hungria, and may persist today within minority languages of Southern Russia or in Siberia where Uralic peoples have been deported by Staline). Am I wrong here?

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