Valerio Anselmo
A research on the name Kudara
(published in 1974)
The language of Paekche (1)


The language of Paekche (2)

[page 4 of the original (cont.)]

The language of Paekche (part one)

The solution of the Paekche-Kudara problem is certainly bounded to the problem of the language of Paekche. To which group did the language spoken in Paekche belong? To this question it is not easy to give an answer, because the sources that reached us are extremely scarce.

Since the data we are in possession seem, at a first analysis, insufficient to give an unerring judgement about the belonging of this language to one of the Asia's groups known to us, we will in the first place turn to history, which will guide us in the first stage of the research. The Samguk sagi 三國史記, when it speaks about the Paekche's foundation 16, tells that Chumong 朱蒙 (known also as Ch'umo 鄒牟), the ancestor of the people of Koguryŏ, starting from Puk Puyŏ 北扶餘 17 (Northern Puyŏ) came to Cholbon Puyŏ 卒本扶餘 18 where he married the second daughter of the king of that place. Then, as the king did not have sons, at the king's death he succeded him on the throne. From this marriage two sons were born, called Piryu 沸流 the first and Onjo 溫祚 the second, but, as another son that Chumong had when he was in Puk Puyŏ was declared the crown prince, the two brothers Piryu and Onjo escaped to the South with many followers.
[page 5 of the original]
Together they went to Hansan 漢山 19, but, when they reached this place, they divided and Piryu continued towards Mich'uhol 彌鄒忽 20, while Onjo went to Wiryesŏng 慰禮城 21, to the South of the (Han'gang 漢江) river, where he founded the state of Sipche 十濟. Later also Piryu, who did not feel comfortable at Mich’uhol, came to establish himself at Wiryesŏng with his followers and, since the population was in this way increased, Onjo changed the name of the state from Sipche to Paekche 22 and, because of his origin, he took the family name of Puyŏ. Onjo, the younger of the two brothers 23, for this reason became the ancestor of the Paekche people 24.

The tale of the origins clearly points to the migration of a group which had evident relations with Koguryŏ. This group would have come to the South in consequence of some internal disagreements and would have established itself in a region which can be identified with a territory of the present-day Kyŏng’gi-do 京畿道, probably an ancient property of the Mahan. In this place perhaps there previously was the Mahan state of Paekche 伯濟 25 and, from the name of this Paekche where the northern conquering group had settled, could have come the name of the new state 26.

The population which migrated to the South was, therefore, a northern population, related to the Puyŏ 27, speaking a language presumably similar to the language of the Puyŏ.
[page 6 of the original]
The population of the small state that was conquered was, on the contrary, of a southern type and its language probably belonged to a group different from the language of the conquerors. The fact that in the Paekche 百濟 state there was a difference between the language spoken by the ruling class and that of the dominated population seems to appear also from a passage in the Chou Shu 周書 where it is pointed out that the king has a title that is different from the name given to him by the people 28. The Liang-shu 梁書, on the other hand, speaking about the language of Paekche says that it is almost identical to that of Koguryŏ 29, while the San-kuo-chih states that the language of Koguryŏ is like that of the Puyŏ 夫餘 30, is very similar to that of the Eastern Okchŏ 31,  and generally is the same as that of the Ye 32.
[page 7 of the original]
From this we can infer that all these languages did presumably belong to the same linguistical group 33, and that the language of Paekche, in particular, was like a kind of dialect towards the language of Koguryŏ. These passages induce us to think that at least the language spoken by the dominant population was similar to that of Koguryŏ; the language spoken by the dominated population, although this is not expressely said, could possibly have originally been of a different type, probably of the Mahan type 34. We say Mahan and not simply Han because, even if the three states of the South of the peninsula had the same name, Han , it seems that their languages were not similar among them, or at least the sources to this regard are contradictory. The San-kuo-chih says that the language of Chinhan was different from that of the Mahan 35, while the languages of Chinhan and Pyŏnhan were similar 36. In the Hou-Han-shu 後漢書, however, it is said that the languages of Chinhan and Pyŏnhan were different 37, in contradiction with what was said by the San-kuo-chih. Even without entering into a debate regarding these statements and into the analysis of the differences of the three Han languages, from an examination of the sources we have of the Silla language, which is a direct continuation of them, and of the sources relating the language of Koguryŏ we can infer that these two languages were really different, although genetically they could go back to a more or less far common origin.
[page 8 of the original]
Consequently, on a purely geographical basis, these languages and the linguistical groups having a more direct relation with them will be called, during this work, the one “northern” (Koguryŏ, Puyŏ etc.) and the other “southern” (the three Han, Silla). From this division remains excluded the language of Kaya 加耶, a confederation of small states at the extreme South-East of Korea, because the problem of the relationship of this language is not yet completely solved 38.

Let's now penetrate a bit deeper into this matter. As we said a little ago, the material of the language of Paekche that reached us is very scarce: we have a few words that can be obtained from the analysis of the place-names quoted in the geographical section of the Samguk sagi and some titles quoted in other sources 39. Most of all the examination of the place-names let some scholars 40 conclude that the language of Paekche was basically a southern language, to which a northern language «superstratum» was superimposed. But from the place-names, especially when it is a question of place-names of a territory that was for a long time possession of the Mahan before becoming Paekche's territory, we cannot draw big conclusions about the belonging of the Paekche's language to a group instead of another: this kind of names resist for a long time and it is difficult to think that the words we can obtain are really words of the language of Paekche (a state that, according the most recent studies, ruled just about three hundred years on these places), because this would be equivalent to say that the place-names of those small states that were later conquered by Paekche could have been radically changed after that territory felt under the control of the conquering group 41. So, among the Paekche's place-names listed by the Samguk sagi, the names clearly related to the language of Silla, of a southern type, are much more numerous 42. than those which go back to the language of Koguryŏ.
[page 9 of the original]
This because, presumably, just the new centers, as they sprang up, received new names directly linked to the language of the ruling group, or with the language that, by then, after centuries of domination, had become the common language, while the old names remained as they were, subjected only to the phonetic variations. We cannot even exclude that some other centers, born in the first period of the life of the new state, received on the contrary names connected with the language of the dominated group, which was still clearly Mahan language, and in the meantime we cannot exclude that some place-names mentioned by the Samguk sagi as names of the Kyŏng’gi-do region previously occupied by Paekche and later by Koguryŏ, could have been conferred by Koguryŏ and not by Paekche.


The language of Paekche (2)

  1. See Samguk sagi, kwŏn 23 券第二十三, Onjo 溫祚, 1, p. 393 of the Sŏnjin munhwasa 先進文化社 edition, Seoul 1963. The Samguk sagi is the most ancient historical work that has remained of Korea. It was written under the direction of Kim Pu-sik 金富軾 (1075-1151) and published in 1145. It is based on previous Korean sources (now disappeared) and on Chinese sources. About the reliability of this source, see Ko Pyŏng-ik 高柄翊, Samguk sagi-e issŏsŏ-ŭi yŏksa sŏsul 三國史記에 있어서의 歷史 敍述, in Tong-A kyosŏp-ŭi yŏn’gu 東亞交涉의 硏究, Seoul 1970.
  2. Probably the Puyŏ 夫餘 (Chinese: Fu-yü) living in Central Manchuria.
  3. Cholbon, according to Yi Hong-jik 李弘稙 (Kuksa taesajŏn 國史大事典, Seoul 1969, p. 1444), corresponds to the name Holbon 忽本 of the Kwang'gaet'o 廣開土 boundary stone and is identified with the Hwanin 桓仁 region in the Hun'gang 渾江 valley.
  4. Hansan is identified with a mountain a little to the North of Seoul, the Pukhansan 北漢山 of today.
  5. In the Samguk sagi, kwŏn 37, p. 577 cit. ed., Mich’uhol corresponds to Maesoholhyŏn 買召忽縣, identified with the present-day Inch’ŏn 仁川.
  6. Identified with the present-day Kwangju 廣州.
  7. As you know, Sip means “ten” and Paek means “a hundred”.
  8. This fact, that the younger brother ascends the throne instead of the older brother, is frequently found also in the Japanese history. See Ko-gi-ki, translated by M. Marega, Bari 1938, p. 100 (La sottomissione del fratello maggiore), p. 223 (Kamu-yai-mimi), p. 225 (Oh-Yamato-hito-suki-tomo), etc.
  9. The Sui-shu 隋書, Tung-yi-ch'uan, at p.11979 of the Po-na edition, says that Paekche comes from Koguryŏ: 百濟之先出自高句麗國, while the Wei-shu 魏書, at p. 9917 of the Po-na edition, says that Paekche comes from the Fu-yü: 百濟國其先出自夫餘. The Sui-shu is the history of the Sui dynasty (581-617). It was officially compiled from 629 to 636 by Wei Cheng 魏徵 (580-643). The Wei-shu is the history of the Wei dynasty (386-535). It was compiled from 551 to 554 by official decree by Wei Shou 魏收 (506-572).
  10. We don't know where this state was located, but we can think that it was in the northern part of Mahan (see NS, Iwa, 1st volume, p. 612, note 10).
  11. It is worth to note the similarity of the and characters, the last one, however, with a meaning which is equivalent to , first character of the name Paekche.
  12. See Hsin T'ang-shu 新唐書, Pai-chi-ch'uan 百濟傳, p. 17413 of the Po-na edition: 百濟夫餘別種也. The Hsin T'ang-shu is the new history of T'ang dynasty (618-906) and was compiled from 1043 to 1060 under the supervision of O-yang Hsiu 歐陽修 (1007-1072) and Sung Ch'i 宋祁 (998-1061).
    About the origin of the Korean people and its relations with the Tungus, the Fu-yü etc., see Kim Chŏng-hak 金廷鶴, Han’guk minjok-ŭi kiwŏn-e taehayŏ 韓國民族의 起源에 對하여, in «Minjok munhwa yŏn’gu» 民族文化硏究, 1, Seoul, 1964, p. 7-45, and Kim Chŏng-hak, Han’guk minjok hyŏngsŏngsa 韓國民族形成史, in «Han'guk munhwasa taegye» 韓國文化史大系, I, Seoul 1964, p.315-452 (about the Paekche and the Mahan, in particular, p. 429-440).
  13. See Chou-shu, I-yü-ch'uan 異域傳, Pai-chi-t'iao 百濟條, p. 11133a of the Po-na edition: 王姓夫餘氏號於羅瑕民呼爲韃吉支夏言並王也妻號於陸夏言妃也. The Chou-shu is the history of the Chou dynasty (557-581). It was compiled by official decree by Ling-hu Te-fen 令狐德芬 (583-666).
    Concerning this king's name (於羅瑕) not used by the people, we could also think that it was a taboo name, whose pronounciation was forbidden to the common people; but it seems more logical to interpret the passage in a different way and to deduct that there were other (perhaps linguistical) reasons, between the dominant group and the people, to create a difference in the usage of the titles given to the king.
  14. See Liang-shu, Pai-chi-ch'uan 百濟傳, p. 8276a of the Po-na edition: 言語服章略與高句麗同. The Liang-shu is the history of the Liang dynasty (502-556). It was compiled by official decree from 628 to 635 by Yao Ssu-lien 姚思廉 (?-637).
  15. See San-kuo-chih, Wei-shu, Tung-yi-ch'uan, p. 4623b cit. ed.: 東夷舊語以爲夫餘別種言語諸事多與夫餘同其性氣衣服有異.
    The Puyŏ (Chinese: Fu-yü) were, as we said, a Tungus population of Central Manchuria, located in the Sungari (銀河 · 松花江) basin.
  16. See San-kuo-chih, Wei-shu, Tung-yi-ch'uan, p. 4624d cit. ed.: 其言語與句麗大同時時小異. The Okchŏ (Chinese Wu-chü) were a tribal group dwelling in the eastern part of the Korean peninsula, to the South of the Tumen (Korean Tuman 豆滿) river.
  17. See San-kuo-chih, Wei-shu, Tung-yi-ch'uan, p. 4626b cit. ed: 其耆老舊自謂與句麗同種 ... 言語法俗大抵與句麗同衣服有異. The Ye (Chinese Hui) were populations of Tungus origin dwelling, around the 2nd-3rd century A.D., in the eastern part of Korea, to the South of the region occupied by the Okchŏ (see K. H. J. Gardiner, The Early History of Korea, Canberra 1969, maps at the p. 23 and 38).
  18. See Yi Ki-mun 李基文, Han’gugŏ hyŏngsŏngsa 韓國語形成史, in «Han'guk munhwasa taegye», V, Seoul 1967, p. 70.
  19. To tell the truth, the Liang-shu, which was written in the first half of the 7th century when the Paekche state was already coming to an end, does not speak at all about differences between the language of the dominant population and that of the dominated population, and this is logical because, if it is possible to think that at first there were differences between the two languages, it is no more acceptable that those differences existed after several centuries of domination. Therefore, according to what it is said in this passage, the language of Paekche was almost the same as that of Koguryŏ, and this means that the language of the dominant population imposed itself to the detriment of the language of the dominated population.
  20. See San-kuo-chih, Wei-shuh, Tung-yi-ch'uan, p. 4628c cit. ed.: 辰韓在馬韓之東 ... 其言語不與馬韓同.
  21. See San-kuo-chih, Wei-shuh, Tung-yi-ch'uan, p. 4629b cit. ed.: 弁辰與辰韓雜居 ... 言語法俗相似.
  22. See Hou-Han-shu, Tung-yi-ch'uan, p. 3680c of the Po-na edition: 言語風俗有異. The Hou-Han-shu is the history of the Later Han 後漢 (25-220). It was privately compiled by Fan Yeh 范曄 (398-445).
  23. On the language of Kaya, which seems to straddle the Koguryŏ language and the Japanese, see Lee Ki-moon (Yi Ki-mun), A Genetic View on Japanese, in «Chōsen Gakuhō» 朝鮮學報, 27, Nara 1963, p. 104-105. In order to corroborate the hypothesis of a real kinship between the Japanese and the populations of the group Koguryŏ-founders of Paekche-Kaya, besides the linguistical affinity we can mention the curious fact noticed in the note 23 (younger brother who ascends to the throne instead of the first-born), which should at least prove a cultural relationship.
  24. The difficulty is given by the fact that, while Silla and Koguryŏ did always occupy the same territories, Paekche was partly formed by a northern population migrated to the South and partly by a local southern population. Therefore part of the material we have is of northern origin (titles, public offices) and the other of southern origin (place-names).
  25. See Yi Ki-mun, Kugŏsa kaesŏl 國語史槪說, Seoul 1961, p. 66-67.
  26. From a study of the place-names, however, we can notice some phonetic peculiarities of the language, that can throw some light on the problem, because the phonetic phenomena, like the palatalization, the drop of a consonant etc., apply to all the words that, at a certain moment, happen to be in the suitable conditions, independently from their origin.
  27. According to a reseach carried out by Pak Pyŏng-ch’ae 朴炳采 (Kodae samgug-ŭi chimyŏngŏhwi-go 古代三國의 地名語彙攷, in «Paeksan hakpo» 白山學報, 5, Seoul 1968, p. 51-129) almost the 100% of the names of Paekche correspond to the vocabulary of the Middle Korean (MK: see the note 48).

To the top of the page
© Valerio Anselmo