It’s pronounced Kim Yuh-Na or Kim Yeon-ah not Yoo-Na

kim yuna

kim yuna

Korea’s incredibly proud of it’s figure skating champion which many forms of media have spelled her name “Kim Yu-Na” or “Kim Yu Na.”  However, as it would be phonetically pronounced when reading the name from the west, people are calling her “Yoo-Na” which I think she’s probably gotten used to by now.

Her name in Hangul is “김연아” which if you want to be more accurate in pronouncing her name correctly, her name is pronounced “Kim Yeon-Ah” as the characters are spelled out.

However, this has been an age old problem with Korean people pronouncing words in English and for English speakers to pronounce Korean names spelled in English, but are Korean.  For example, the surname “Cheh” or “Chae” is spelled “Choi” instead because the Korean characters which make up the last name actually are combined to sound like “Choi” if you separate the characteres “ㅗ” and “ㅣ” which represent the sounds “Oh” and “Ee.”  

This is also a significant example of how Academia fails to interact with the major cross section of most populations and fail to recognize the majority do not follow sometimes their very narrow perspective of the world.  It’s a little depressing to see and why we continue to have these pronounciation problems.

1 Comment

Filed under Advice, ESL, Interesting..., Linguistics, Sports

One response to “It’s pronounced Kim Yuh-Na or Kim Yeon-ah not Yoo-Na

  1. You’re definitely correct about the pronunciation. Part of the problem comes from the romanization – until 2000, 연 was transliterated was ‘Yun’, the same as 윤. People typically kept their names the same from the old romanizing system to the new one, even if it was technically incorrect. If Korea were serious about getting other people to speak its language correctly, a bit more help on romanization would be a start.

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