I came across this tweet from VICE News researchers are making a dictionary for a Korea that doesn’t exist yet which has the tag:

North and South Korea Are Butting Heads Creating a Unified Dictionary

In the video it mentions that both North & South Korean "updated":

difficult Chinese character[s] [and] word[s] from the Japanese colonial period

It then goes on to give the example of how the Japanese word bento was updated in North & South Korean as 도시락 and 곽밥 respectively.

Which words have been updated? Are they mostly Japanese colonial terms?

  • What does the video mean by "updated"? Your example of bento -> 도시락 and 곽밥 suggests that it means "replaced by a completely different word"..? Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 19:46
  • Is there any relationship with bento and 도시락? it existed before Japanese colonial period (with slightly different pronouciation). I can't understand the meaning of update.
    – mharti
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 2:20
  • The professor's point in the video is that in times past the word "벤토" (弁当) was used but due to its colonial implications the word was replaced with a more traditional term. When he says "update" he is simply just talking about replacing the terms and phrases with other terms and phrases.
    – Mou某
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 2:44

1 Answer 1

  • 초밥 replaced 스시 (sushi, loaned from Japanese 寿司 = すし)
  • 단무지 replaced 다꾸앙 (a form of pickled radish, from Japanese 沢庵 = たくわん / たくあん)
  • 나무 젓가락 replaced 와리바시 (splittable wooden chopsticks, from Japanese 割り箸 = わりばし)

This form of prescriptivism started after World War II, and the removal of Japanese loanwords from the colonial era is the most salient, in both the South Korean standard 표준어 and the North Korean standard 문화어.

However, after the Korean War, both standards continued to remove various items of vocabulary, with North Korean eschewing some 한자어 (Sino-Korean) vocabulary as well as English loanwords. There is thus a lot more native Korean vocabulary in the North Korean vocabulary, even in relatively technical terms (e.g. 물들체 instead of 염색체(染色體) for chromosome).

This 한국어 순화어 Korean language purification in South Korea occurred through the late 1970s onwards, with 1977 being one of the major quoted dates.

The South Korean standard, as maintained by the National Institute of the Korean Language, has a list of 다듬은 말 polished/refined language/words/speech. The most commonly known replacements are those of Japanese colonial loanwords, but some are not, for example:

  • 밥값 replaces 식비 (food expenses, from Sino-Korean 食費)
  • 식재료 식당 replaces 그로서란트 ("grocerant", a Konglish blend of grocer and restaurant)
  • 휴대 전화 replaces 휴대폰 (mobile / cellular telephone, a Konglish blend of Sino-Korean 携帶 and English phone)

As with many prescriptivist efforts, not all have been accepted by all people in all fields of daily life. But that streak of linguistic nationalism has had a large effect on the development of the language as a whole.

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