A multi-modal documentation of Jejuan conversations

A multi-modal documentation of Jejuan conversations

Language: Jejuan
Depositor: Soung-U Kim
Location: Korea, South
Deposit Id: 0351
ELDP Id: IGS0208
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit
Jejuan is spoken on several islands of Jeju Province of South Korea, with a number of diaspora speakers in Osaka, Japan. Traditionally treated as a variety of Korean that is unintelligible with other varieties, it was recognised as a critically endangered language by UNESCO in 2010. There are approximately 5000 to 10,000 speakers, with fluent speakers all above the age of 70. This project aims at building an annotated audio-video corpus of spoken Jejuan with a focus on conversational genres, supplementing existing documentation of narratives and songs.

Group represented
Speakers of Jejuan language living on Jeju Island, South Korea. Ethnically, they self-identify as Korean. As opposed to similar contexts such as the Ryukyus, the Jeju region has been part of mainland governance since the 12th century CE.

Language information
Jejuan (Cheju) has been identified as a language separate from Cheju Island dialect of Korean, but not yet assigned an ISO code (Moseley 2010). Buddhist, Christian.


Resources online and curated


Soung-U Kim
Affiliation: SOAS University of London

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2018 January 24 to 2018 January 24
Deposit hits:1
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Showing 1 - 10 of 145 Items

After another elicitation session, HYJ1 HGS1 and SUK1 chat with each other while SUK1 is packing his recording equipment.

Recorded on: 2015-12-21

On the first December day of the year, HYJ1 came over to HGS1's place to share news about other people in the village. The recording can be especially interesting to see how speakers quote speech in Jejuan. Jeju0056-09 is a short recording that was done after HYJ1 had left, where HGS1 explains why there exists the Jejuan joke of saying t͡ɕəkoli ne kɛ pan t͡ɕʰak, lit. 'jacket four things half side', meaning 'four (traditional Hanbok) jackets and a half' when one says komapsʰuta or komauta both meaning 'thank you': Both expressions of gratitude sound similar to either kom ahop sʰuuta, 'ribbon nine number_is', 'it's nine ribbons', or kom ahop iuta, 'ribbon nine it_is', 'there are nine ribbons' when said quickly, which is why one says 'four jackets and a half' as a jokey response, assuming two ribbons per jacket.

Recorded on: 2015-08-18

HYJ1 tells SUK1 about a big, yellow flower that is blossoming in HGS1's yard, and is absolutely riveted by its beauty, as she has never seen such a flower before. She explains to SUK1 where she got her injured ankle from. SUK1 leaves the recording at the beginning of jeju0121-04 after he has set up the video equipment, and returns to have a snack and prepares coffee for the ladies. He tells them about his earlier recording session jeju0119 singing Jejuan songs, and the ladies talk about the folk songs they know of. When SUK1 leaves because of a phone call from his family, the ladies comment on his long-distance call, and talk about the relevance of advanced communication for their own lives. After he's got back into the recording, HYJ1 later tells the others about the importance of walking around a lot instead of taking busses and cars. SUK1 leaves again at 35:00, and comes back shortly before the recording ends, the ladies continuing to chat. jeju0121-01 until jeju0121-03 run without accompanying video recording, but audio only since SUK1 had turned on the audio recorder first, and later decided to build up the video camera. So about 05:53 of jeju0121-03 is the beginning of jeju0121-04. The rest of jeju0121 then corresponds to jeju0121-04 up to jeju0121-08.

Recorded on: 2015-09-25

This is a fairly long session where HGS1 and HYJ1 casually talk with SUK1 about a range of things. It begins with the ladies talking about raising children in woven baskets called ɛkikutək, about the ways the are made and what they look like and how people took care of them (jeju0058-01). The gestures the speakers are using are quite interesting here. In jeju0058-03, HYJ1 recounts how people used to use cows in the past for their farmwork, and what that meant them in terms of social contexts. SUK1 takes advantage of the casual nature of the conversation and discusses a couple of expressions he had learnt from HGS1 outside a recording setting, including a Jejuan expression of Schadenfreude, and 'old ways' of saying 'sorry' (jeju0058-04, 05:19) - in fact, the latter one is very interesting, as it used only in restricted contexts by elderly people nowadays, and people in their 40s usually do not know this expression. They further talk about youngsters and their usage (or rather lack of usage of Jejuan), and how with the current granchildren's generation, things seem to be changing in terms of children learning a bit of Jejuan at school. Further expressions SUK1 had come across are discussed in jeju0058-06 and jeju0058-07, and in jeju0058-08, the ladies talk about learning the connection with Chinese zodiac signs and the days of a month. Different animal names are mentioned here (some in Korean, some in Jejuan), and especially the discussion of t͡ɕ͈okt͡ɕepi, a kind of Siberian weasel (Mustela sibirica), but probably rather a subspecies endemic to Jeju Island (Mustela sibirica quelpartis - 'Quelpart' being an early francophone toponym for the island).

Recorded on: 2015-08-19

HYJ1 visits HGS1 to eat Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) fruits that were sent from the mainland as a gift. In this short recording, they talk about doing gymnastics, the cold wind that blows through their houses during winter, and food. SUK1 occasionally joins the conversation.

Recorded on: 2015-08-19

SUK1 did a short recording on a couple of words containing the mysterious, culturally highly valued, low, back rounded arae-a vowel, as he had learnt them new that day, and he also wanted to have short recordings that show to interested people what this vowel sounds like, as it may be quite uncommon in East Asia. To note, people of Jeju origin highly value their local idiom, saying that only in Jejuan, the old arae-a vowel is alive, whereas in other parts of Korea it has died out. It is so important to many people, as the modern, graphemic representation of this vowel goes back to Middle Korean writing, in which it was seemingly abundant. On the basis of this vowel that is still allegedly preserved in Jejuan (although it is not sure what the actual sound value of that grapheme was centuries ago), people take a lot of pride, some even saying that Jejuan is the old standard language of Korea.

Recorded on: 2015-08-15

SUK1 asked HYJ1 to make him a couple of trousers made of typically Jejuan, persimmon-died cloth. They discuss how the trousers should look like, with SUK1 trying on different sizes of existing trousers and HYJ1 thinking about which one to take as a model (lexical elicitation, grammatical elicitaion, narrative elicitation).

Recorded on: 2015-07-10

GOH1 and BMJ1 chat about different things, ranging from the importance of doing exercise, to how GOH1 used to dive for seafood in the past. This conversation is especially interesting, as BMJ1 would usually be clearly identified as a mainlander throug her speech, yet people know that she's been living on Jeju Island for decades now, and GOH1 as a friend speaks to her in Jejuan, which is not the usual practise. BMJ1 on the other hand, speaks a very interesting mixture between Jejuan and the South Jeolla variety, resorting to South Jeolla prosody and morphosyntax, yet sometimes using distinct Jejuan morphology. This linguistic behaviour is very unusual for immigrants to Jeju Island who have come during recent years, yet it has been observed fairly regularly with immigrants who came to the island decades ago like BMJ1 did. Contentwise, this recording is interesting, as GOH1 gives us a rare insight into her life as a diver, and into every-day work during times when South Korea was slowly evolving into an industrial country. SUK1 is present only in parts of this recording, and most parts are unobserved.

Recorded on: 2015-08-28

Before SUK1 starts discussing serial verbs with HJG1, JOS1, the three joke around the whole recording setting. It is interesting to see how HJG1 and JOS1 are using the word for 'shop sign' metaphorically for their face, saying that with "that face" they will go all the way to England. Then they shortly talk about how many expressions are not used anymore nowadays among the youth.

Recorded on: 2015-10-09

Before having another session to discuss the nature of Jejuan serial verbs, HGS1, HYJ1 and SUK1 are chatting casually before SUK1 has set up all his equipment. The conversation moves from a recent injury HGS1 suffered from, across the discussion of HGS1's pets, as well as how the two speakers have started being interested in topics surrounding other parts of the world, especially Germany, since they got to know SUK1.

Recorded on: 2015-10-02