S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.48 (2003) (인문논총)
비교언어학 및 유전학적 방법에 의한 한국어 기원의 탐구
A Search for Korean Origins through Genetic and Comparative Linguistic Methods
- 이상억; 이정빈; 김선영; 천종식
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학 인문학연구원
- 인문논총, Vol.48, pp. 109-145
- In exploring the origins of the Korean language, there are three windows
through which we may penetrate the mysteries of this difficult question:
archaeological, genetic/ genomic, and linguistic. In this paper I will try to answer
this question by looking mainly through the latter two windows. As many
linguists have attempted to place the Korean language into the proper language
family according to linguistic affinity, I also want to classify the Korean language
with linguistically related languages, mainly the Altaic languages.
The so-called Altaic linguistics is very unstable compared with the more
rigorously documented Indo-European linguistics. The lack of sufficient evidence,
such as a common indigenous lexicon, has made it difficult to ascertain the
genetic relationships and origins of languages such as Korean, Japanese, Manchu-Tungusic
(Man, Gold(i), Oroqen, Ewenke, Lamut, Nanay, etc.), Mongolian (Khalkha, Chakhar, Urat, Khorchin, Ordos, Buriat, Oirat, Kalmyk, Da(g)ur, Monguor, Yellow Uighur. etc.) and Turkish (Turkish, Turkmen(ian), Azerbaidjani, Uighur, Uzbek, Kumyk, Tatar, Kazakh, Kirg(h)iz, Yakut, Altai, and Chuvash, etc.), which are typically classified as Altaic.
Recently Starostin (1991) claimed that Proto-Altaic had disappeared around the
sixth century B.c. Other measures are needed to evaluate this hypothesis, though,
since the intra-linguistic debate has not provided any clear evidence or breakthroughs.
That is why we turn to genetics as an approach and incorporate the
results to shed new light on the origins of the Korean language. It has been
shown that analysis of mitochondrial DNA, transmitted through maternal lineage,
can be used to test this kind of hypothesis.
After collecting data from such ethnic groups as Korean, Japanese, Ewenke,
Nanay, Khalkha, Buriat, and Turkish, we have investigated information on
mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA). While we do not use the popular STR markers on
Y chromosomes (namely, DYS19, DYS389I, etc.) in this study, we will type a
number of Korean, Tungusic and Mongolian populations on Y chromosomes, and
other nuclear markers such as the gene encoding cytochrome B will be isolated
by the polymerase chain reaction, as in the next study,.
In reality, it was rather difficult to extract genes from hair-roots and saliva,
especially when there were not many samples available for serious study. Yet, we
could fill the void for Koreans in the map that shows the mitochondrial DNA
types in Africans, Australian Aborigines, Caucasians, East Asians, Native
Americans, and New Guineans. The nucleotide sequences were determined through
phylogenetic analysis. If we can position the sequences from Koreans in the
currently available genealogical tree based on mitochondrial DNA, we may be
able to reassess the existing hypotheses on linguistic genealogy.
However, because primordial remains or ancient fragments of linguistic evidence
are not readily available in Korea due to special geo-political situations, the
position of the Korean language has been left unattested in the genealogical tree
based on languages. Nonetheless, there are some examples similar to the Altaic
languages that are estimated to have been used in Korea, and using these we
may draw the linguistic tree shown below.