Do some research

One advantage of a written blog is that you don’t know how bad (or occasionally reasonable) my Korean pronunciation is.* If I posted videos to Youtube, I would be very careful about checking my pronunciation first.

One of my textbooks has the topic of music this week. I decided to brush up on my knowledge of K-pop (generally fossilised in 2006-09, the time of my previous stay here). I found this video, in which the narrator has failed to do even a modicum of research. I can (just) forgive him for pronouncing ‘Gangnam’ with two short as, but at 5.00 the singer’s name is what?!

Hyuna‘ is not three syllables approx hi-yu-na. It is two syllables approx hyon-ah. Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he uses the same (wrong) pronunciation a minute later (she appears in the video for Gangnam Style).

And it’s not just pronunciation. He refers to the ‘eight’ girls in Girls’ Generation. That may be true now, but it clearly wasn’t when the song in question was released – just pause the video and count.

BTW, the same syllable occurs in Hyundai, but at least there the company has officially authorised the English-ised pronunciation. The Korean pronunciation is two syllables approx hyon-day. (It means ‘modern’.

PS My wife’s niece, who was flower girl at our wedding, is named현아. I would transliterate this name as Hyeon-a. (See this post for comments about transliterating the Korean letters ㅓ and ㅕ.)

* See this story (scroll down to the PS), for example.


2 thoughts on “Do some research

  1. The most common pronunciation I hear for Hyundai these days is “hyoon-die”, first syllable rhymes with “look”. I think we’re too used to Japanese spellings (or were when the car first made its way to Australia) and just pronounced it that way – there was an ad for a while that said “All day, every day, Hyundai”, but even so, everyone still seems to say “die” rather than “day”.

    Does Hyon-a/Hyon-yeng/Hyon-ji have the same first syllable as Hyundai?


    • Those names have the same first syllable as Hyundai/hyeondae, but it’s not necessarily the same meaning. Some native Korean words have more than one meaning (see the the kick/wear discussion) but especially Sino-Korean words have many meanings, based on the Chinese word/character they are translating. Wiktionary gives three meanings – ‘current; present’ (part of the name Hyundai/word hyeondae, ‘string’ (????) and ‘appearing’ (which is likely to be the meaning in those girls’ names – I know there’s a Christian element in their names (as indeed also for Haram and Hayeong – ‘ha’ is also part of ‘hananim’, the standard Korean word for God)). (Wiktionary then adds *20* more Chinese characters for hyun/hyeon, but doesn’t translate them.)


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