Native toBuyeo Kingdom
Extinct7th century[citation needed]
Koreanic ?
Language codes
ISO 639-3xpy
Buyeo in the 3rd century

Very little is known of the language of the Buyeo kingdom.[1] Chapter 30 "Description of the Eastern Barbarians" in the Records of the Three Kingdoms records a survey carried out by the Chinese state of Wei after their defeat of Goguryeo in 244. The report states that the languages of Buyeo and those of its southern neighbours Goguryeo and Ye were similar, and that the language of Okjeo was only slightly different from them.[2] Based on this text, Lee Ki-Moon grouped the four languages as the Puyŏ languages, contemporaneous with the Han languages of the Samhan confederacies in southern Korea.[3]

The most widely cited evidence for this group is a body of placename glosses in the Samguk sagi (1154), which some authors take to represent the language of Goguryeo, but others believe reflect a mix of languages spoken by peoples conquered by Goguryeo.[4][5] Scholars who take these words as representing the language of Goguryeo have come to a range of conclusions about the language, some holding that it was Koreanic, others that it was Japonic, and others that it was somehow intermediate between these families.[6][7][8]

The same chapter of the Records of the Three Kingdoms transcribes a Buyeo word for 'official' as ,[9] pronounced kai in Eastern Han Chinese.[10] Beckwith identified this word with a Samguk sagi gloss / (pronounced kɛj/kɛjtshijH in Middle Chinese, kay/kaycha in Sino-Korean) for 'king', and the Baekje language word for 'ruler' transcribed in the Nihon Shoki as Old Japanese ki1si.[11]


  1. ^ Lee & Ramsey (2011), p. 37.
  2. ^ Lee & Ramsey (2011), p. 34.
  3. ^ Lee & Ramsey (2011), pp. 34–36.
  4. ^ Lee & Ramsey (2011), pp. 40–41.
  5. ^ Whitman (2013), pp. 251–252.
  6. ^ Whitman (2011), p. 154.
  7. ^ Beckwith (2004), pp. 27–28.
  8. ^ Lee & Ramsey (2011), pp. 43–44.
  9. ^ Beckwith (2004), p. 42.
  10. ^ Schuessler (2007), p. 300.
  11. ^ Beckwith (2004), pp. 42, 124–125.

Works cited

  • Beckwith, Christopher I. (2004), Koguryo, the Language of Japan's Continental Relatives, Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-13949-7.
  • Lee, Ki-Moon; Ramsey, S. Robert (2011), A History of the Korean Language, Cambridge University Press, p. 34, ISBN 978-1-139-49448-9.
  • Schuessler, Axel (2007), ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-2975-9.
  • Whitman, John (2011), "Northeast Asian Linguistic Ecology and the Advent of Rice Agriculture in Korea and Japan", Rice, 4 (3–4): 149–158, doi:10.1007/s12284-011-9080-0.
  • ——— (2013), "A History of the Korean Language, by Ki-Moon Lee and Robert Ramsey", Korean Linguistics, 15 (2): 246–260, doi:10.1075/kl.15.2.05whi.