One of the features of Korea is that the Korean language in this country received official recognition of a little more than a century ago, in 1895. Until that time, over the course of almost two millennia, the state language of Korea, the language of all science, culture, legislation and office work in this country was the Ancient Chinese language, which in Korea was called "Hanmoon".
In this regard, Korea is not alone. Approximately the same situation also existed in Japan, and in Vietnam, and in China itself somewhere in the XV century and in the head did not occur to some business paper in a spoken language (by that time the living Chinese was different from the ancient Chinese stronger than modern Russian – from the Russian language "Words about the regiment of Igor"). In all these countries, the ancient Chinese preserved dominant positions until the very recently: in Japan – until the 1860s, in Vietnam – until the 1870s, in Korea – up to the 1890s, and in China – until 1910s year.
Moreover, the situation when in the country all or almost all books and documents are written in a foreign language, in the Middle Ages existed almost everywhere. In Europe, the language of high culture was Latin, in India – Sanskrit and Pali, in the Middle East – Classic Arabic. In all these cases, the role "Language of enlightened" played the language of the dominant religion, the one on which her sacred books were written. The Catholic Bible is drawn up on Latin, the Koran – on the classic Arabic, the texts of Hinduism and Buddhism – on Sanskrit. In Korea, as in other countries of the Far East, the dominant religion was Confucianism, and his sacred texts were written in ancient China and, naturally, in ancient Chinese language, on Hanmun.
Ancient Chinese language, which, by the way, is not connected with any Korean, nor with Japanese, is the conversational language of China V-I centuries to.NS. This is the ancestor of numerous and very unlike each other’s dialects of the modern Chinese language, but the distinction between it and modern Chinese – more than between French and Latin.
One of the most interesting features of the Ancient Chinese language is its exclusively written character. In China it is called – Wenian, that is "Written language". In this language did not say, but only wrote. It was impossible to speak on it because it existed an incredible number of homonyms – words with the same pronunciation, but with different meanings. Such words as "and", "Han", "mu" (I bring the Korean pronunciation) every hundreds of values each, and understand the rumor, what exactly they mean, it was not easy. When reading the problems, it did not occur, because for each value there was its own special hieroglyph. Of course, this homonymy is a phenomenon later, in the language where two and a half millennia spoke in China, there were no such problems. However, over time, changes occurred in pronunciation, which led to the fact that many words began to sound completely equally.
It is curious that the hieroglyphs in all languages of the region (and even in different dialects of the Chinese language) were uttered very differently, although this pronunciation was always spawned to the ancient Chinese. I will give only one example (the history of any of the few tens of thousands of hieroglyphs was the same). Ancient Chinese language was the word "force", which, according to linguists, about V in. to N.NS. pronounced as SLEG. It was recorded with a simple hieroglyph _____. By the beginning of our era of the propulsion of consonants at the beginning of the word, the words were in Chinese are impossible, so Sleg turned into LEG. Approximately the hieroglyph and his pronunciation were borrowed by Koreans, but in Korean over time initially borrowed pronunciation changed, so now in Korea Ieroglyph this is read as "R Ok" (in Korean there is no difference between "L" and "R"). Japanese, who borrowed hieroglyphs not directly from China, and through the mediation of Korea, this hieroglyph is read "Ricky" or "Ryoka" (Sound "L" There is no) in Japanese). Vietnamese his pronunciation — "Lik". In the same Chinese, a language of several dialects has been split about a thousand years ago. However, their dialects are officially considered only in China itself in Russia, in the West Chinese countries "Dialects" considered separate languages. In the northern dialects, the majority of finite consonants occurred, so Leg turned into Li. In southern dialects, preserved to the ancient pronunciation "Lik". So we have Northskaya "Lie", South Titai "face", Vietnamese "Lik", Korean "Ryek", Japanese "Rica". They all go back to the same word, Ancient Chinese "Slag" However, no matter how the hieroglyph ____ pronounced, its value for all competent people in all countries of the Far East remained the same — "force".
The domination of the ancient Chinese in the cultural and political life of the whole of the Far East has both good and bad parties. On the one hand, for many centuries, a Korean or Japanese boy who wanted to get an education should have to start spending a lot of effort to master a stranger and very difficult language. On the other – the ruling and cultural elite of the entire Far East wrote, read and thought in the same language. This gave Korean or Japanese scientists direct access to the works of their Chinese colleagues, and their work without any problems extended throughout the Far East. In culturally, the region was one, the language barriers did not divide him. Educated people in all countries of the Far East were engaged in schools in alone and textbooks, and read the same books. The poems of the Chinese poet immediately could appreciate the advantage of Seoul lovers of poetry, and the works of Korean doctors were carefully studied by their colleagues somewhere in the jungle of Vietnam. Translation was not required.
Hanmoon do not need to be confused with the Chinese hieroglyphic ("Hangzha" Korean). In Korean language, although he is perfect not related Chinese, a lot of Chinese borrowing.
In average newspaper text, for example, about 3/4 of all words – Chinese origin. Approximately the same situation, again, exists in Japan, and in Vietnam (even borrowed words, as a rule, the same). All Chinese borrowing can be recorded (and often recorded) both Korean alphabet and hieroglyphs, so knowledge of hieroglyphic is necessary in order to read texts in Korean. However, the text in the Korean language remains the text in the Korean language, even if the Chinese borrowing is recorded in it by hieroglyphs. Knowledge of the hieroglyphic and knowledge of the ancient Chinese language are completely different things. If you know, let’s say, Latin, this does not mean at all that a person can read in Latin. Read, more precisely, he can, but understand read – hardly. Analogy, however, not quite complete, as the hieroglyphs, in contrast to the letters of a Latin or other alphabetical writing, are transmitted not only pronunciation, but also the importance, but still quite accurate.
To understand the difference, I will give one and the same phrase in three versions: on Hanmun, in Korean in a purely alphabetical record, on-korean in mixed, alphanumeric hieroglyphic record. This phrase means: "The king wanted to appoint it a commander".
Phrase on ancient Chinese (Hanmun) (modern Korean pronunciation "Van Yoka Cai in V Changun")
Phrase on Korean in alphabetical record
The phrase on Korean in a mixed record (naturally, what is read in both cases is exactly the same: "Van-Yun Ky-Ryll Changong-somme Hatt")
However, from the end of the XIX century, Hanmoon lost its official status. Than it was caused? There were several reasons. Firstly, the ancient Chinese scholarship ruined the same thing that several centuries destroyed the Latin tradition in Western Europe before – the transition to mass education. So far, only a minor part is the percentage (or even more interest) – the entire population was educated, it was quite possible to teach and in the dead language of the sacred texts. When the situation has changed when it became necessary to send an increasing part of the population to school, it was necessary to refuse this tradition. Education in medieval languages can not be at a real mass – this truth was learned in its turn in Western Europe, and in India, and in the Far East.
Secondly, the ancient Chinese language turned out to be not very adapted for the needs of a new life. It is clear that there were no words in it to designate new concepts — "airplane" and "parliament", "locomotive" and "stock" (Confucius did not fly on airplanes and was not elected to parliament). It is possible that such words could be created, because in Korean, and in Japanese, and in Vietnamese, the corresponding terms in their overwhelming majority "Collected" from the ancient Chinese roots. However, no one tried to do this. At the end of the past and the beginning of our century, the young intelligentsia of all countries of the Far East sought to end the old heritage. With or without bases, but they believed that the ancient Chinese language and the traditional culture closely associated with him are also responsible for the misfortunes that have worried about these countries. Another serious lack of language is the absence of his oral version. It was impossible to speak on Hanmun, and in the new conditions it also became a problem. Finally, after 1900 g. youth more and more preferred to study not comments on the works of Confucian philosophers, but business and electrical textbooks, as well as books of work of Western authors. Respect for the old scholarships in many persisted, but those who wish to spend time on mastering it was less and less.
Hanmoon still remains in the program of Korean high schools, however, people who are able to read on it freely, now almost left. This, by the way, has become one of the reasons for the crisis of the university departments of Korean history and Korean philology. Since 90% of all texts in Korea up to 1894. It was written on Hanmun, the future historian or a philologist should be very well owning this difficult language. Among young people, such people were left very little, and every year it becomes harder to find those who are ready to devote a considerable time to similar activities. Knowledge of Hanmuna goes into the past, which means that a huge array of literature in this language becomes inaccessible to new generations (the same problem, by the way, exists with many texts in Latin).