The University of Hawai‘i Press has issued the first-ever book in English on Jejueo, the language of Korea’s Jeju Island. The book is the work of Changyong Yang, professor of language education at Jeju National University; Sejung Yang, a researcher and instructor at Jeju National University; and William O’Grady, professor of linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and a member of the Center for Korean Studies faculty.
This much-needed book tells the story of a language that has gone unrecognized for too long and is now in grave peril. Once the province’s primary variety of speech, Jejueo currently has only a few thousand fluent speakers and has been classified by UNESCO as critically endangered.
The book offers both an introduction to the language and a comprehensive survey of the many features that make it largely incomprehensible to residents of the Korean mainland. After a brief chapter on the history of Jeju and its culture, the authors work their way through the language step by step, examining its sounds, its parts of speech, its rich system of suffixes for both nouns and verbs, and its unique sentence enders and discourse markers. Carefully written to minimize technical terms and supplemented with hundreds of examples, the work is intended to be accessible to students and scholars in all fields of Korean studies.
The authors present a provocative new picture of linguistic diversity in East Asia, undermining the centuries-old belief that Korea has a single language within its borders. Jejueo thus becomes important to the cultural and linguistic heritage not only of Jeju Island, but of the entire Korean nation.
As the first comprehensive treatment of Jejueo in English, this book marks a milestone in Korean studies and is sure to trigger extensive discussion of the language and its place in Korean society.
For more information about the book, visit the University of Hawai‘i Press web site.