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Abstract. Ever since Korea was divided into North and South in 1945, the two Koreas have independently launched extensive movements to "purify" the Korean language. Although the two Koreas' movements started with essentially the same nationalistic spirit, the subsequent developments have led to markedly different consequences, mainly due to complete physical separation for over half a century; polarized political, social, and ideological divergence; and the distinct language standardization policies implemented by the two governments, culminating in North Korea's institution of "Cultured Speech" as their standard language as against South Korea's traditional "Standard Speech". This paper examines in what areas purification efforts have been exerted thus far. Specifically, it identifies and discusses the major conceptual goals that motivated the movements: to compare the two Koreas' policies and practices relating to the exclusive use of hankul vis--vis the mixed use with characters, arguing somewhat digressively for the importance of character education; to observe the emergence and nature of Cultured Speech vis-a-vis Standard Speech; and to overview the extent of lexical refinements and the degree of divergence. The paper concludes with some general suggestions on methods of linguistic unification.

Keywords: Cultured Speech (munhwa-e); Language purification; Standard Speech (phyocwun-mal); character education; hankul-only policy; ideology; language planning; language policy; lexical refinement; linguistic unification; nationalism; standardization; utilitarianism

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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