(g)rape (dr)ink

In my lunch box a few days ago was this small drink carton. The Korean side presents no problems: 포도 드링그 = po-do deu-ring-keu = grape drink. The English side is rendered problematic by the strategic placement of the straw: ‘grape drink’ becomes ‘rape ink’.

English relatively freely allows consonant clusters at the beginning and end of syllables. Korean disallows consonant clusters at the beginning and allows only a very small number at the end (generally, one of those is silent unless followed by a syllable beginning with a vowel). A relatively large proportion of English words remain valid with one or two consonants removed from the beginning: grape > rape > ape, drink > rink > ink (and even three: strain > train > rain > ain (Scots) was the first I could find; there may be others). Spoken Korean allows the removal of a consonant at the beginning of a syllable: po-do could become o-do, but written Korean does not allow a single consonant in a syllable. Instead, a placeholder consonant is used, and o-do is spelled 오도.


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