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끝소리 kkeutsori Posts

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Old English

“Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer / Had a very shiny nose” The story of the Rudolph who was mocked by his fellow reindeer for his glowing red nose but came to be loved after leading Santa Claus’ sleigh on a foggy Christmas Eve first appears in a booklet written by the American Robert L. May in 1939. A Chicago-based retailer named Montgomery Ward used to send out promotional booklets for free every Christmas, and to save on the costs of buying them from…

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The origin of the word ‘kangaroo’

There is a myth that the word ‘kangaroo’ derives from the reply that Aboriginal Australians gave meaning “I don’t understand” when the British asked for the name of the animal. As the story goes, the British mistook that reply for the name of the animal, and it stuck. It’s a good story that is often repeated, but it is not true. In 1770, the Endeavour, captained by Britain’s James Cook, docked in the northeastern coast of Australia. It was near the…

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Two pronunciations now accepted for ‘gimbap’

Gimbap (김밥, in the Revised Romanization of Korean) or kimbap (in McCune–Reischauer romanization) is a Korean dish made of rice and other ingredients rolled up in dried seaweed. The Korean name 김밥 literally means ‘laver rice’, from 김 [ɡ̊iːm] (‘laver, a type of edible seaweed’) and 밥 [b̥ap] (‘cooked rice’). Until recently, the only recognized standard pronunciation of 김밥 was [ɡ̊iːm.bap]. Standard Korean is theoretically based on the contemporary speech used in Seoul by refined folk, and according to that definition, [ɡ̊iːm.bap]…

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Lisboa and Gusmão: representing Portuguese s-voicing in Korean transcription

The Portuguese capital Lisbon (pronounced [ˈlɪz.bən] in English), famous for the trams climbing up and down its hills, is known as Lissabon [ˈlɪ.sa.bɔn, ––ˈ–] in German and as Lisbonne [lis.bɔnə → liz-] in French. But the Portuguese name is Lisboa [Portugal: ɫiʒ.ˈbo.ɐ, Brazil: ɫiz.ˈbo.ɐ], and this is also the name in Spanish, where it is pronounced [liz.ˈβ̞o.a]. In Korean this city is known as 리스본 , which the Great Dictionary of Standard Korean (표준국어대사전) implies is a transcription of the English name ‘Lisbon’. Strictly…

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Satirical bilingual pun poem in Classical Chinese and Korean

The seismic political scandal surrounding South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil has inspired a remarkable piece of bilingual wordplay in the form of a satirical poem in Classical Chinese which, when read in Korea’s traditional hanja readings, results in a poem in Korean with a different meaning. The text, which originally appeared on Korea University’s 대나무숲 (meaning ‘bamboo forest’) Facebook page (a forum for anonymous submissions from students), consists of five-character lines, following a popular form of…

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‘Loanword Transcription Rules’ section open

I have added a new section on the website with the English translation of the Loanword Transcription Rules (외래어 표기법 外來語表記法 Oeraeeo Pyogibeop), the official regulations in South Korea for transcribing other languages into hangul, the Korean alphabet. This is quite possibly the first time that translations of these rules are appearing in English anywhere. These rules are by no means perfect, and suffer from quite a few ambiguities and inconsistencies. For now, they are presented without commentary for the…

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Yirgacheffe coffee from Ethiopia and writing Amharic names in Korean

Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and the aromatic Yirgacheffe coffee is one of the most prized local varieties. In Korea, where it has earned the nickname ‘Noblewoman of Coffee’, this coffee bean most often goes under the name 예가체프 , while more recently some people have also started calling it 이르가체페 . But the form closest to the original pronunciation would in fact be 이르가처페 . Yirgacheffe is a town in south central Ethiopia that lends its name to the surrounding…

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How do you write Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s name in Korean?

Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (born 1938) is a giant of African literature. His name comes up every year as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and though he was passed over in favour of a certain Bob Dylan this year, last month he was awarded the 6th Pak Kyongni Prize, the literary award established in honour of Korean author Pak Kyongni (박경리, 1926–2008) best known for her 16-volume saga Toji (토지 ‘Land’). In 12 December 2014, the…

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Writing the name of Thai Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn in Korean

After the recent death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช [pʰuː.mí.pʰon ʔà.dun.já.dèːt], 1927–2016) of Thailand, who was the longest reigning monarch in the world, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn (วชิราลงกรณ [wá.ʨʰí.rāː.lōŋ.kɔːn], born 1952) is expected to be crowned the next king after a period of mourning. In 26 April 2005, the 62nd Council of the Joint Committee of the Government and Press on Loanword Review (정부·언론 외래어 심의 공동위원회) decided that ‘Maha Wajiralongkorn’ (including the title มหา meaning ‘great’) should be written 마하…

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Starting out

I have decided to stake out a tiny corner of the internet as a repository for my language-related musings in the English language that don’t fit into my previous online ventures. These include a blog in Korean and more recently pronouncer.org, a website conceived as an online pronunciation resource.

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