Boreanesian versus Korean (was: Accepted Crimes)
|From:||Kristian Jensen <kljensen@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, November 16, 2000, 12:16|
I'm crossposting this to both Conculture and Conlang. To conculture because
this is more conculture related, and to conlang because Yoon Ha Lee has only
subscribed to conlang.
Yoon Ha Lee wrote:
>On Tue, 14 Nov 2000, Kristian Jensen wrote:-----<snip>-----
>> I take it you're not in the Conculture mailing-list then... however,
>> I already forwarded the message to Conlang-L, but it seems you always
>> miss my posts and Teoh has conveniently snipped it above... Oh well,
>> here it is again (and I hope you're not too busy to have a look at it
>> this time).: 8)
>Heh, it's not just your posts, I summarily delete tens of posts every day
>without looking at them based on the subject header. I'd like to join
>Conculture someday when I find I'm *not* summarily deleting Conlang posts
>because even skimming them all would take too long.
>And even when I skim the first screen of a post, I don't necessarily
>*finish* reading the thing, and may delete it as well. I know there was
>an intriguing of geminates, but not knowing what a geminate is, and
>having missed the first part of the discussion, convinced me to delete
>all those messages.
>Prioritization, is all. <sigh>
Agreed. <sigh> What I do is read all the first posts of new threads,
read all threads I participate in, read all threads that I'm interested
in, and I delete all the rest. That way, I think, I don't miss anyone
who tries to hint for my participation.
>> I'm wondering if the article Brad Coon had read is true. Are there
>> limited clan names in Korea, and are they exogamous (i.e., one is not
>> allowed to marry one from the same clan)? If they are exogamous, are
>> there problems of interclan incest (i.e., people DO marry others from
>> the same clan despite the rules of exogamy)? If so, how is it delt
>> with? I'm asking because it seems that the Boreanesians might be
>> experiencing a similar problem with intermoietal incest, and I'm
>> curious as to how real world cultures deal with the problem (if it is
>> a problem).
>Well, the newspaper-data cited above is no longer correct. There *was* a
>law forbidding members of the same clan name to marry, and it's true that
>there are a limited number of clan names (have you ever looked at a
>Korean phone book? <shudder>). However, this is complicated by the fact
>that you have *subclans* within the clan names. My dad, for example, is
>an /i/ from a particular Han River area. He could legitimately have
>married an /i/ clan member from, oh, the Pusan area even before the law
>was repealed (amidst considerable opposition from
>traditional/conservative Koreans, according to my mom). So it's not
>completely correct to say you can't marry within the same clan name,
>because there used to be some sort of system for determining which people
>in-clan were "Safe" and which weren't, based rather more on tradition
>than anything to do with modern genetics. OTOH since women were (I
>believe) stricken from their own family's records when they were married
>off into another family, keeping track of this could be a pain in the butt.
Well, for women being stricken from the record only means that the descent
system is patrilineally biased... that's all. I don't think it would make
it any more difficult to trace one's lineage that way. The Boreanesian
system, for instance, is a duo-descent system -- meaning that one's lineage
is traced through _both_ the father and the mother. That makes it
considerably more difficult.
On the other hand, the Boreanesian system is a moiety system. Using Korean
terms, that means there are only _two_ "clans" within the patrilineal lineage
in Boreanesia. Of course, being duo-descent means there are also two "clans"
within the matrilineal lineage. So basically not as many descent groups as
in the Korean system.
>Also, even when the law *was* in force, people would find ways to get
>around it sometimes (especially if a marriage match was advantageous to
>both families--Korea even today has many arranged marriages, though my
>parents' wasn't one; my mom's family strongly opposed her marrying an
>unknown pauper). I think fudging records and so on were involved, but I
>don't recall details clearly. Frankly, if enough village elders and
>family heads-of-house and so on are willing to look the other way,
>"intermoietal incest" (if that's the term?) could happen, and the way my
That's not the term. A moiety is one of only two possible descent groups.
Korea has clans, and, as far as I can tell, quite a whole lot more than just
two. You obviously mean "interclan incest".
>mom tells it, it probably happened a lot. Korea's a great place for
>shoving things under the carpet. :-/
>So while the name-business makes it look like it'd be hard to get married
>in Korea, it never to my knowledge reached any sort of crisis point;
>there must be tens, if not hundreds, of "subclans" each of Kims and
>Lee's/Yi's/Rhee's and Oh's, etc.
Hmmm... I don't think it would be that easy to shove things about descent
under the carpet in Boreanesia. Afterall, there _are_ only a total of four
descent groups. Furthermore, an adult Boreanesian wears cicatrice markings
on his/her body indicating which affiliation he/she has. You can't really
hide these, except perhaps through plastic surgery.
>I must add that the above discussion applies to post-WWII/Korean War
>South Korea. I don't actually know what the system was *legally* under
>Chosun Korea or the Japanese occupation, though I imagine the tradition
>does date back to the Chosun period or thenabouts. You'd probably be
>better off asking a "real" Korean, who'd have a better chance of knowing
That's OK. My concern is indeed post-WWII Korea. I'm trying to figure out
if the Boreanesian system can survive in the modern post-WWII world. I
think it will survive in Boreanesia. Tell me if I'm wrong here -- The main
difference I can see between the Boreanesian and the Korean descent system
is that the Boreanesian one is observed very much like a religion. The fact
that the system is based on moieties means that Boreanesians have little
difficulty believing that they are all related to the first two legendary
families that settled the islands thousands of years ago. Being ancestral
worshippers seems to me to enhance the respect and religious reverance for
these two legendary families and thus the moieties. Moietal affiliation is
reflected in rituals associated with almost every important detail in the
life of a Boreanesian; from birth, to maturity, to marriage, to death. It
would require the death of all these rituals for the system to die --
although that itself is not unheard off.