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Korean at the Nexus of Northeast Asian Linguistic Area

October 26-27, 2018
Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea



Organized by John Whitman, Department of Linguistics, Cornell University and Sungdai Cho, Director of the Center for Korean Studies and Asian Studies at SUNY-Binghamton, this conference brings together a group of leading scholars to discuss the place of the Korean language in the Northeast Asian linguistic area.

The conference is an activity of the Academy of Korean Studies Laboratory Program for Korean Studies grant project Korean at the Nexus of the Northeast Asian Linguistic Area. While previous linguistic research on the Korean language has focused on possible genetic links between Korean and other languages, as well as distinctive typological and structural features of Korean, our project and this conference shifts the focus to an areal perspective. Korean has important features in common with most of the languages in the adjoining area of Northeast Asia, regardless of whether it is genetically related to them. Earlier research has tended to divide the linguistic areas of Northeast Asia into "Siberia" and "East Asia". We suggest that Northeast Asia as a whole may be regarded as a linguistic area or Sprachbund, extending from northern varieties of Sinitic (Chinese) to Siberian isolates such as Nivkh and Yukaghir. A further part of our working hypothesis is that Korean has central role among the languages of this region, due to its history and geographic location. It shares features with languages to its north, east, and south, mirroring the central cultural and political placement of Korea that continues to this day.

The conference will take place over two days. Presentations on October 26 will focus on the areal/typological background, while papers on October 27 will examine distinctive features of Korean.

The conference is funded by the Laboratory Program for Korean Studies through the Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea and the Korean Studies Promotion Service of the Academy of Korean Studies grant AKS-2016-LAB-2250004 to Cornell University.

Last Updated: 10/11/18