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In: Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism
In: Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism
In: Ming Qing Yanjiu
In: Beschreibung der Welt
In: Historical Truth, Historical Criticism, and Ideology


Departing from the observation that teleological narratives about a unilinear development of ever more “nation”-oriented language theories and linguistic practice in Chosŏn Korea do not necessarily hold, the present chapter probes into the language ideology of Pak Chiwŏn 朴趾源 (1735–1805), who, as one of the most representative “sirhak” thinkers of Late Chosŏn, may serve as an exemplary case. His magnum opus, the Yŏrha ilgi 熱河日記 (Jehol Diary), both an intellectual milestone and a literary masterpiece, is scrutinized for its discourse on language (especially on language plurality, the relationship of Literary Sinitic to spoken languages, and the relative merits of Korean versus spoken Chinese and Literary Sinitic) as well as its linguistic and intertextual practices. It is demonstrated that the text provides neither a clear-cut hierarchization of languages nor an unequivocal valorization of Korean as a language of learning on a par with Literary Sinitic. Rather, the divide between the two linguistic media seems to go along with a differentiation of (higher) “truth” and the “veracity” of quotidian life. The fact that much of Yŏrha ilgi is devoted to an appreciation of the cultural value of the quotidian is mirrored in the multiplicity of linguistic codes employed in the text. That it stops short of using vernacular Korean in a more comprehensive way is explained by Pak Chiwŏn’s esteem for the universally communicative function of Literary Sinitic (rather than for its social corollaries), and by a desire—found to underlie some of his narrative strategies—to write in a literary space where the cosmopolitan and vernacular cultural spheres merge.

In: Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in the World of Wen 文