Valerio Anselmo
A research on the name Kudara
(published in 1974)
Several hypotheses on Kudara (2)

Hypotheses on Kudara (1)

Hypotheses on Kudara (3)

Several hypotheses on Kudara (part two)

[page 26 of the original (cont.)]

1. Kudara was the name of the state

a-α) The name was the one given to their own state by the inhabitants of Paekche in a southern language.

The name Kudara is derived from k'ŭn nara, “big country” 124. Due to the lack of a velar aspirate occlusive 125 and to the lack of a distinction between ŭ and u 126 in the phonetic system of the Japanese, the pronounciation of k'ŭn nara would have become in Japanese at first kun nara and then kudara. The hypothesis that the first syllable of the name Kudara (perhaps derived from another etymon) could mean "big, great" in a certain sense is, as we will see later, possible. Nevertheless the form k'ŭn nara < MK k'ɨn nara does not seem to have produced Kudara, because the transformation -nn- > -d- in an intermediate position is not attested in Korean and is rather difficult to suppose 127 and also for the reasons produced by some scholars concerning the vocalic system of ancient Korean, according to which the MK k'ɨn would have been derived from *kən 128.
[page 27 of the original]
Moreover, this hypothesis k'ŭn nara > Kudara based on MK, although connected to the fact that the three Han (Sam Han) perhaps called themselves "the big" (or "the great") (MK han "big, great") 129, is not supported by any historical proof.

For the sake of completeness we will now present also a theory which is a variant of the previous one. At a first glance it appears to be simple, but for several reasons it seems not offering enough warrants of validity. There is a Korean adjective which means “to be big, great” and that in the sound is very similar to the name Kudara : k'ŭdaratha. The corresponding MK form, according to Yu Ch'ang-don 劉昌惇 130, was k'ɨnahɑda ; anyhow the first of the two forms seems to be too different in order to be considered derived from the other. G. J. Ramstedt 131 suggests the derivation of k'ŭdaratha from k'ŭdara hada, giving us in this way an etymology in which a form k'ŭdara “greatness (?)” is isolated, a form very much similar to the name we are looking for. In spite of the fact that the reconstruction of a name so distant in the time is always bristling with unexpected events, we can, anyhow, suppose that a form similar to this one had an analogous meaning in the language of Paekche. We can also think, on the basis of many other adjectives, that the root of k'udaratha be, on the contrary, k'udarah- , with a final velar voiceless fricative. But, for the reasons produced before, these forms should come from an original *kədara or *kədarah , if other phonetical phenomena did not occur inside the root, and from this original form a derivation of Kudara appears to be a difficult one. As it happened for the previous hypothesis, this too is not based on historical proofs.

Yang Chu-dong 132 says that the name Kudara comes from a Korean original kɑdɨrɨ, equivalent to k'ɨdɨrɨ  “big field” (大野). This name could perhaps be connected with the name of the present-day Taejŏn 大田, formerly called hanbat (“big field”), a town not far from the place where were located the capital cities Ungjin 熊津 and Sabi 泗沘. In that case the name Kudara would have passed to Japan rather late since, according to what are thinking the historians, Paekche would have arisen at the beginning in a place near the present-day Seoul, where it probably kept its capital up to the 475. Only in that year, following the occupation of the Seoul region by the Koguryŏ forces, the capital was transferred more to the south.
[page 28 of the original]
We can, however, advance also the hypothesis that this kɑdɨrɨ  did not correspond at all to Taejŏn, but to a place nearer to the one which was native to the Paekche people. This theory of Kudara “big field” ideally connects to the theory which supposes that the name of the ancient capital of Silla (Sŏbŏl, Sŏrabŏl) was linked to the word pŏl  “plain”, a theory accepted by many scholars 133. , therefore, meant “big, great” and tɨrɨ  meant “field”. Nowadays tŭl means “field” and derives from a MK form tɨrɨ  which calls to the mind the Mongolian tal-a “plain” 134. This is a very interesting theory, but we cannot accept it because it does not base itself on data that are historically verifiable and inferable from the sources.

a-β) The name was the one given to their own state by the inhabitants of Paekche in a northern language.

Kanazawa Shōzaburō in connection with the etymology of the name Kudara derives the meaning of “country of the Maek” from the name Pak-tara, “montain of the Maek” 135. The form tara for “mountain” is very similar to the verified form for the Koguryŏ language, *tal, but the name 貊山 never appears as the name of Paekche. Moreover, the change from “mountain of the Maek” to “country of the Maek” without an intermediate form is unacceptable. Likewise it seems to be discardable the hypothesis that Kudara would have been derived from Pak-tar (or Paku-tara in the Japanese pronounciation) for the drop of the initial part pa- (kutara  > kudara).

b) The name was the one given to the Paekche state by others.

No hypotheses.

c) The name was the one originally of another state, but passed to mean Paekche.

Ayugai Fusanoshin 鮎貝房之進 136 notes that the Wei-chih in the Han ch'uan 韓傳 137 among the 12 countries of Pyŏnjin (= Pyŏnhan) lists also the name 古淳是 and puts this name in connection with Kudara.
[page 29 of the original]
The ancient Chinese pronounciation of this name, reconstructed according to Karlgren 138 sounds *kuoźi̯uĕnźie̯:, while the modern Korean and Japanese pronounciations are kosunsi and kojunze. It is therefore evident that, even without having recourse to the ancient forms, these pronounciations are too far from Kudara in order to be taken into consideration.

The Nihon shoki 139 speaks of a country called Tara 多羅, one of the small states of Kaya 加耶 , identified by Yi Pyŏng-do 140 with Hapch'ŏn 陜川, in the present-day Kyŏngsang-namdo 慶尙南道 province, whose name, at least in its form, is very near to Kudara. And, again, among the countries of Mahan there was a certain Kuro 狗盧 141. When you think that the state of Koguryŏ sometimes was simply called Koryŏ 高麗 and sometimes Kuryŏ 句麗 , even without saying that these Kuro and Tara were the same state and that this state was called Kudara (from the conjunction of the two names), one must nevertheless admit also the hypothesis that one of these two states could actually be the Kudara of the Japanese. The form 舊多羅 (“ancient Tara”) proposed as an hypotetical transcription of Kudara by the Chōsen-shi taikei 142 is, from this point of view, a good reconstruction. Nevertheless, given the extreme uncertainty which prevails on the origin of this name, every hypothetical transcription of Kudara in Chinese characters seems to be out of place, even if the name Kudara is, in its form, rather similar to the names of many countries quoted in the Korean or Chinese sources about Korea. As a consequence, the hypotheses of this kind will certainly be more than one and, if they are all documented in the same way, they will all have the same value.

2. Kudara was the name of the people

a) Its own name

Kudara would derive from Koma nara “the country of the Koma”. Kim Sŏk-hyŏng 金錫亨 143 says that with Koma the Japanese were designating Paekche and not Koguryŏ, which was on the contrary called Kure.
[page 30 of the original]
Koma  was, according to Yi Pyŏng-do 144, the name of a population, the Kaema 蓋馬, identified with the Mahan (Kaemahan > Mahan) 145, which inhabited the region that later become the state of Paekche. It seems, anyhow, difficult that Kudara could come from Koma-nara, given the big phonetic difference between the two names.

b) A name given to them by other neighbouring peoples or by the Japanese

No hypotheses.

c) The name of another people, but extended also to them

No hypotheses.

Hypotheses on Kudara (1)

Hypotheses on Kudara (3)

  1. Yi Sŏk-ho 李夕湖 in an article appeared on the review «Sin Tong-A» 新東亞, January 1970, and in an exchange of correspondence with the writer, says that the word Kudara comes from k'ŭn nara “big country”, a name with which the inhabitants of the archipelago called the Korean state, since all the Japanese culture at that time was influenced by Paekche. To confirm this, he quotes the Japanese idiom Kudaranai koto wo iuna “Do'nt say nonsenses!”, which would derive from Kudara ni nai koto wo ifuna “Do'nt say things that do not exist in Paekche!”.
  2. However, it is necessary to remember what was said by Pak Pyŏng-ch'ae regarding the aspirate occlusives of the ancient Korean (cf. Pak Pyŏng-ch'ae, Kodae kugŏ-ŭi hanchaŭm yŏn'gu 古代國語의漢字音硏究, in «Asea yŏn'gu» 亞細亞硏究, IX-2, Seoul 1966, p. 1-68), namely that in that period in Korean probably there was no opposition between aspirate sounds and non-aspirate sounds.
  3. See, however, what was said concerning the vocalic rotation and the correspondence Kor. o - Jap. u, from which Kor. ɨ - Jap. ə (cf. Anselmo, Armonia..., cit., p. 69).
  4. The n - t opposition is distinctive in Korean. Cf., for instance, nal “day”, tal “moon”; non “irrigated field”, ton “money”; kanŭn “which is going”, kadŭn (or kadŏn) “which was going”; pan “a flat surface”, pat “field”; etc. The transformation -n- > -d-, not attested in Korea, might have happened in Japan (?).
  5. Cf. Anselmo, Armonia..., cit., p. 73.
  6. Somebody, on the contrary, puts han in connection with the word hana < hɑnɑ(h) “one”, or with the word hanŭl < hanɑl(h) “sky”.
  7. Cf. Yu Ch'ang-don, Ijoŏ..., cit., p. 708.
  8. Cf. G. J. Ramstedt, Studies in Korean Etymology, Helsinki 1949, p. 134.
  9. Cf. Yang Chu-dong, Koga..., cit., p. 708.
  10. Yi Ki-mun (Kugosa..., cit., p. 68) holds instead that the words pəl (or pɨl) of the place-names of Silla and puri 夫里 of the place-names of Paekche meant “fortress, castle” and were the equivalent of hol, id., of the Koguryŏ language. Anyhow, this does not directly contradict the former theory which wants to state that the name “fortress” or “town” came from the fact that the first towns were built in the plain and that, from the name indicating “the plain of...”, could have come the name pointing to “the town of...”.
  11. Cf. Lessing, Mongolian..., cit., p. 771.
  12. Quoted by Ōtsuki Fumihiko 大槻文彦 in Daigenkai 大言海, 2nd vol., Tōkyō 1933, p. 27.
  13. Quoted in the NS, Iwa, note 10, p. 613 of the 1st vol.
  14. Cf. San-kuo-chih, Wei-chih, Pien-ch'ên ch'uan 弁辰傳, p. 4628 of the Po-na ed.
  15. Cf. Karlgren, Grammata..., cit., 49a, 464e, 866a.
  16. Cf. NS, Iwa, K. 9, Jingū kōgō, p. 356 of the 1st vol. This fact is pointed out also in the Chōsen shi 朝鮮史, 1, II, ed. by the Chōsen Sōtofuku 朝鮮總督府, Keijō 京城 1932, p. 44-45.
  17. Cf. Han'guk-sa, cit., p. 402.
  18. About the correspondence -ra / -ro, see also the two equivalent names of Sin-ra (Silla) 新羅 and Sin-ro (Sillo) 新盧.
  19. Cf. Chōsen-shi taikei, cit., p. 116.
  20. Cf. Kim Sŏk-hyŏng, Kodai Chō-nichi kankei-shi 古代朝日關係史, Tōkyō 1971, p. 276-277.
  21. Cf. Yi Pyŏng-do, Kuksa taegwan 國史大觀 , Seoul 1960, p. 52.
  22. Also the name of the river Paengma (paek-ma 白馬) and the various place-names of the region containing the pronounciation ma, like Ch'ŏngma sansŏng 靑馬山城, Magoksa 麻谷寺, Kŭmma 金馬 etc., could be related to this people's name.

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© Valerio Anselmo