Thursday, May 20, 2010

The World Cup is approaching rapidly. Jamie Trecker at Fox Sports has an excellent rundown of the (South) Korean national team. Well, excellent if one only looks at Mr. Trecker's soccer analysis, because his linguistics skills (for example) appear to be a little rusty.
Take the very language of Korea: it is unique in Asia in that it is NOT ideogrammatically based as Chinese and Japanese are; the hangul (written) alphabet has 24 characters and the spoken (called urimal or gugeo) is what linguists call a "language isolate," meaning that is bears no roots to any other known spoken language on the planet (in comparison, the Romance languages -- of which the six most prominent are Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan -- are rooted in Latin).
No, Mr. Trecker. Korean is in the Altaic language family, which includes Mongolian and Japanese.

But anyway, that's not important. What does Mr. Trecker think about Korea's chances?
PERCENTAGE CHANCE TO PROGRESS: 20%. It's going to be tough. You have to think that Argentina is the group favorite, and Nigeria should get the boost that we expect all African teams to get at this Cup. Greece stinks, but because the Koreans don't score a lot of goals, they could struggle to get on the board.
The Korean thinks that's a fair assessment.

In a related news, the Korean received the shipment this a few days ago. Freakin' sweet.

32 Teams in 32 Days: South Korea [Fox Soccer Channel]


  1. Irrelevant (really just nitpicking), but the Wikipedia page for the Altaic language family says that it is a disputed language group (i.e. it may not exist) and further references the Korean language as a language isolate.

  2. What about the North Korean team?

  3. @ The Asian of Reason
    Hell even I can answer that. NK got absolutely no chance. They belong in a group with Brazil, Portugal, and Ivory Coast. NK will be fighting not for the next round but rather not to place on the bottom.

  4. Looks like FarFromKorea beat me to it, but I was also going to say that I'm pretty sure that most linguists consider it an isolate and not part of the Altaic language family, though some do.

  5. Fox has the wrong away uniforms for the South Korean team. The away uni should have blue shorts, not red.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. As far as I'm aware, the Altaic hypothesis is on shaky ground, and many linguists consider both Korean and Japanese to be language isolates (though with the case of Japanese there is argument for the existance of a small Japonic language family including Okinawan)

    What's the verdict of Korean linguists on this particular controversy? I have heard lots of references to 알타이족 or whatever it's called but I wasn't sure of the linguistic side of things.

  8. Mr. Trecker is clearly not very knowledgable about Korean football, as are most of the FSC's other so-called experts.

    So many of his facts are erroneous.

    1. Baseball is still the no. 1 spectator sport. KBL still draws in far more crowds than k-league.

    2. Park Chuyong from Monaco is a starter - only reason he did not start during second half of season is because he had a hamstring injury that kept him out for 5 months.

    3. He noted Lee Keunho as one of the players to watch. As most of the footballing world knows, Lee Keunho has had a horrid season and may not even start.

    4. On the tv-version of FSC's countdown, the idiot experts characterized South Korea as a Southeast Asian team - "most of the players ply their trade in Southeast Asian league"

    5. Seol Kihyeon is not a guy Korea really wanted - Seol has been in decline for last year.

    His analysis is clearly based on hearsay. THis is akin to asking Naver expert to opine on SEC football.

  9. This guy is an idiot. Instead of focusing on soccer, and the WC, he seemingly bashes Korea, albeit with lots of incorrect information. Soccer is popular, but no where near popular as baseball. However, Korean national team gets way more coverage, especially during the WC, than other national teams or sports for that matter.

    Hence why our generation never watches FOX. They are even "real" network IMO.

  10. The guy definitely did get a lot wrong, but I've already taken his article apart on another blog.

    I'd say SK have more than a 20% chance of progression though. Greece: weak, should finish bottom of the group. Argentina: unpredictable, Maradonna hasn't picked some players who should be automatic starters. Weren't any good at all in qualifying, but you can't write them off in the WC. Will probably finish top of the group thanks to the individual skill of a couple of players. That leaves SK and Nigeria - making it a 50% chance of progression assuming they both beat Greece and lose to Argentina.

    I think SK can beat Nigeria - they're polar opposites but I think SK just have the edge. Nigeria are fractured, defensive and on a bad run of form. They're just lucky they have a few decent individual players. SK are united, hard working, on a fairly good run of form. I think they'll get out of the group, and if they do they play a team from Group A - probably the weakest group. In fact, SK might be worth a cheeky punt to get to the quarter finals.

    Read more on the Korean team on my blog.

  11. Whether Korean is genealogically related to the languages in the Altaic family continues to be a controversial debate. As far as I know Korean and Japanese fall into the macro-Altaic family. There is a strong divide among historical linguists regarding macro families because it is difficult to confirm the validity of the evidence since it will always be based on language reconstruction and basic cognates. Even the proposed cognates are highly debated since the cognates could have resulted not from the same proto-language, but from a sprachbund effect [language contact] or from false cognates [ex. kinship terms, etc.].

    Historical linguistics is always tricky because we're basing our evidence on language, which is in constant change. What are some other thoughts regarding Korean's genealogy?

  12. My dad was a professor in Korean linguistics, and he would have had an apoplectic fit if he were to read what the Korean just wrote. Almost all linguists agree Korean is a language isolate. But for some reason Korean linguists (minus my dad) are extremely stubborn (Korean + stubbon = normal) about it being part of the Altaic language family. There are similarities, to be sure, but not enough. Pockets of other language isolates do exist in the region, namely Siberia, and even Japanese is considered to be one.

    But then again, assigning language relationships in Asia is only theoretical at best. There really is no clear cut language tree when it comes to sorting all the thousands of languages in Asia.

    BTW where did the Korean get his information about the Korean/Altaic language connection?
    A Korean textbook? Wikipedia?


Comments are not available on posts older than 60 days.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...