Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - The Sinograph and Mediational Technology: Korean Textbooks as Indices of Linguistic Modernization, 1894-1915

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Maryland Suite C, Lobby Level

In this paper I investigate the emergence of modern school textbooks in late 19th and early 20th-century Korea and their role in conveying new knowledge to Korean students. I argue that Korean ‘language’ textbooks and specifically the mixed-script style of writing (kukhanmunch’e) employed in each functioned as information technologies that contributed to the constitution of Korea’s modern linguistic landscape. The pre-colonial textbooks (1894-1908) under investigation written by Korean intellectuals, Japanese government officials and Western missionaries offer critical glimpses into the ongoing process of vernacular-cosmopolitan differentiation, and represent alternative pronouncements of potential vernacular literacies. Paying close attention to the function of sinographs (Chinese characters) in these textbooks, I argue that their particular deployment reflected the evolving state of vernacular written Korean, and the authors’ own language ideologies. The National Language Reader for Common School Use (1907), Japan’s first declaration of its vision for vernacular Korean literacy, meanwhile displayed a commitment to Mixed-Script orthography (kukhanmun) and a further shift away from Literary Sinitic (hanmun) grammar toward Korean vernacularization. This trend in Korean literacy education continued into the colonial period with the solidification of the Japanese textbook regime and the gradual monopolization of Korean language education. Examining various orthographies employed by different authorities before and after annexation, this paper traces the Sinograph in Korean textbooks as an index of linguistic modernization and as a translingual mediating agent linking Literary Sinitic, Japanese and Korean.

Daniel Pieper

Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

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3 - The Sinograph and Mediational Technology: Korean Textbooks as Indices of Linguistic Modernization, 1894-1915



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