A SAGE Journal


Research on vocabulary related to modern postal systems in East Asia

Woongchul Shin 申雄哲

发布时间:2021-12-03    点击次数:

【摘要】Focusing on the modern postal system, this essay tracks the current usage of vocabulary and the process of change in each region of East Asia. To start with, it confirms the synchronic distribution pattern of postal terms in East Asia through local laws. It then examines the background of the creation of 郵便 (yûbin) in Japan as a new modern word in terms of institutional and linguistic history. It highlights, in this regard, the Japanese specificity behind the birth of the modern term 郵便, investigating how the term has been accepted in other East Asian regions such as China and Korea. Finally, it summarizes the following findings: first, through a linguistic phenomenon that can be accounted for by a theory called character-morphemes, 便 (bin, tayori). In Japanese this came to acquire the meaning of ‘letter’ and ‘communication means’ which would not have existed when it had been initially passed down from China. Second, in modern Chinese, the word 郵便 (yóubiàn) did not have the vitality to overwhelm other competing vocabulary in situations where such Japanese meanings were not shared; and last, in Korea, on the other hand, a branch similar to Japan existed in the usage of the word 便 (phyen) before modern times. Such a tendency, in fact, induced the acceptance of the new modern term 郵便 (wuphyen).

【关键词】Modern new words, modern postal system, postal terms, translation of Western concepts

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