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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

The Evolution of Ancient East Asian Writing Systems as Observed through Early Korean and Japanese Wooden Tablets

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2010, v.50 no.2, pp.124-157
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2010.50.2.124

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Abstract

Large quantities of ancient Korean wooden tablets unearthed since the 1990s have underscored and buttressed the importance of primary materials in historical studies. The Korean linguistics field is no exception; with a growing number of tablets available from Baekje and Silla, research on ancient Korean language and writing has accordingly flourished. These investigations had been mainly confined to the Korean Peninsula, however, and had not expanded to encompass all of East Asia. Bearing that in mind, this paper deciphers and explicates written materials through a comparison of two early wooden tablets, unearthed in Korea and Japan, respectively, and surveys the evolution of ancient East Asian writing systems—focusing on the development of writing systems that use borrowed Chinese characters, the adoption and adaptation of character shapes and handwriting styles. Research reconfirms that ancient East Asian writing systems originated in China and moved to the Korean peninsula and then to the Japanese archipelago.

keywords
ancient Korean wooden tablets the evolution of East Asian writing systems Chinese-borrowed characters gugyeol characters hiragana cursive Japanese syllabary

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