You’ve likely been pronouncing PyeongChang incorrectly this whole time.
PyeongChang, the 2018 host of the Winter Olympics, is a county in the Taebaek Mountains not far from the demilitarized zone that divides South Korea with North Korea. With the games underway, most folks, including broadcasters, have been pronouncing it “Pee-yon-chang.”
That’s close, but linguist James Harbeck explained last month why that pronunciation is slightly off. Actually, the correct way to say PyeongChang is more like “Pee-yon-chong.”
Harbeck explained earlier in the video how tricky it can be to translate Korean to the English language, all the way down the specific sounds.
“South Korea has different words and different sounds making up those words. It’s also written with a completely different writing system. There is a transliteration of it into the Roman alphabet,” Harbeck said. “The problem, though, with transliterations of a language into an alphabet that wasn’t designed for the language is it’s a bit like using Ikea parts meant for one bit of furniture to build an entirely different bit of furniture.”
Here’s what it sounds like coming from a native Korean speaker:
Nobody expects you to sound like a fluent speaker of Korean, but we can all certainly put in the effort to be a little closer to pronouncing PyeongChang correctly.
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