Mirror of Zen Blog

The Heart Sutra, in Medieval Korean

I just came across this recording of The Heart Sutra in Medieval Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters. It is very interesting. The original post says that “there are many theories about the pronunciation of Middle Korean and this video cannot represent all of those.” But it certainly gives a clearer sense (to this viewer) the link between the Korean pronunciation we have come to use, and its roots in some of the older expressions of Chinese. (Though this feels as close to Cantonese as it is to Korean!)

I remember, when reading The Canterbury Tales and The Faerie Queen in university, what it was like to experience Old English: the English language in a more chrysalis-like state than its contemporary expression. It gave me a sense of the Latin and French and German inflections that I had never considered, and gave much insight into the subtle feelings and uses of the words and phrases.

This reading gives a sense of the possible feel of this familiar sutra recitation’s continuity with ancient Chinese culture.

Heart Sutra in Middle Korean (Dongguk Jeongun)

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