Goguryeo language

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Native to Goguryeo
Region Manchuria, Korea
Extinct 7th–10th century?
  • Goguryeo
Language codes
ISO 639-3 zkg
Linguist list
Glottolog kogu1234[1]
Three Kingdoms of Korea Map.png
The Three Kingdoms of Korea, with Goguryeo and Buyeo in blue.

The Goguryeo language was spoken in the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo (37 BCE – 668 CE), one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The language is also known as Old Koguryo, Koguryoic, and Koguryoan.

It is unknown except for a small number of words, which mostly suggest that it was similar but not identical to the language of Silla, and may have been influenced by the Tungusic languages. Striking similarities between Baekje and Goguryeo can also be found, which is consistent with the legends that describe Baekje being founded by the sons of Goguryeo's founder. The Goguryeo names for government posts are mostly similar to those of Baekje and Silla.

Chinese records suggest that the languages of Goguryeo, Buyeo, Eastern Okjeo, Baekje, Silla, and Gojoseon were similar, while the language of Malgal (Mohe) in Manchuria differed significantly.[2][3][4]

Alexander Vovin argued that the connections to Japanese may be due to earlier languages of southern Korea, such as perhaps Gaya, and that Goguryeo–Baekje was closer to Silla and Korean.[5] Words of Goguryeo origin can be found in Middle Korean (early 10th to late 14th century). Christopher I. Beckwith attempted to link Buyeo, Goguryeo, and Baekje with Old Japanese.[6] As a minority theory, Finnish linguist Juha Janhunen believes that it was likely that a "Tungusic-speaking elite" ruled Goguryeo and Balhae, describing them as "protohistorical Manchurian states" and that part of their population was Tungusic, and that the area of southern Manchuria was the origin of Tungusic peoples and inhabited continuously by them since ancient times, and Janhunen rejected opposing theories of Goguryeo and Balhae's ethnic composition.[7]



  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Koguryo". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  2. ^ Fan Ye, Book of the Later Han, volume 85; the Dongyi Liezhuan
  3. ^ Wei Shou, Book of Wei, volume 100; the Liezhuan 88, the Wuji
  4. ^ Li Dashi, History of Northern Dynasties, volume 94; the Liezhuan 82, the Wuji
  5. ^ Toh Soo Hee, About Early Paekche Language Mistaken as Being Koguryo Language, Ch'ungnam University
  6. ^ Christopher I. Beckwith, The Ethnolinguistic History of the Early Korean Peninsula Region, Indiana University
  7. ^ Pozzi & Janhunen & Weiers 2006, p. 109


Further reading[edit]

  • Beckwith, C. I. (2004). Koguryo, the language of Japan's continental relatives: an introduction to the historical-comparative study of the Japanese Koguryoic languages with a preliminary description of Archaic northeastern Middle Chinese. Brill's Japanese studies library, v. 21. Boston: Brill. ISBN 90-04-13949-4
  • Beckwith (2006). "Methodological Observations on Some Recent Studies of the Early Ethnolinguistic History of Korea and Vicinity." Altai Hakpo 2006, 16: 199-234.
  • Beckwith (2006). "The Ethnolinguistic History of the Early Korean Peninsula Region: Japanese-Koguryoic and Other Languages in the Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla Kingdoms." Journal of Inner and East Asian Studies, 2006, Vol. 2-2: 34-64.
  • Beckwith (2007): Koguryo, the Language of Japan's Continental Relatives: An Introduction to the Historical-Comparative Study of the Japanese-Koguryoic Languages, with a Preliminary Description of Archaic Northeastern Middle Chinese. Brill Academic Publishers, 2004. ISBN 90-04-13949-4. Second edition, 2007. ISBN 90-04-16025-6
  • http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/19/41/11/PDF/review-Beckwith-Koguryo.pdf
  • Alexander Vovin (2005). "Koguryǒ and Paekche: Different Languages or Dialects of Old Korean?" Journal of Inner and East Asian Studies, 2005, Vol. 2-2: 108-140.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]