McCune-Reischauer

McCune–Reischauer romanization (/məˈkn ˈrʃ.ər/) is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems. A modified version of McCune–Reischauer was the official romanization system in South Korea until 2000, when it was replaced by the Revised Romanization of Korean system. A variant of McCune–Reischauer is still used as the official system in North Korea.[citation needed]

The system was created in 1937 by George M. McCune and Edwin O. Reischauer. With a few exceptions, it attempts not to transliterate Korean hangul but to represent the phonetic pronunciation. McCune–Reischauer is widely used outside Korea.

Characteristics and criticism[]

Korean has phonologically no distinction between voiced and voiceless consonants, but it phonetically distinguishes them. Aspirated consonants like p', k', and t' are distinguished by apostrophe from unaspirated ones, which may be falsely understood as a separator between syllables (as in 뒤차기twich'agi, which consists of the syllables twi, ch'a and gi). The apostrophe is also used to mark transcriptions of ㄴㄱ (n'g) as opposed to ㅇㅇ (ng): 잔금chan'gŭm vs. 장음changŭm).

Such common omissions were the primary reason the South Korean government adopted a revised system of romanization in 2000. Critics of the revised system claim it fails to represent and in a way that is easily recognizable. Also, it misrepresents the unaspirated consonants the way that they are actually pronounced.

Meanwhile, despite official adoption of the new system in South Korea, many in the Korean Studies community, both inside and outside South Korea and international geographic and cartographic conventions generally continue to use either the McCune–Reischauer or the Yale system. Also, North Korea uses a version of McCune–Reischauer.

Even within South Korea, usage of the new system is less than universal, like the variant of McCune–Reischauer that was the official Romanization system between 1984/1988 and 2000.

Guide[]

This is a simplified guide for the McCune–Reischauer system. It is often used for the transliteration of names but does not convert every word properly, as several Korean letters are pronounced differently depending on their position.

Vowels[]

Hangul
Romanization a ae ya yae ŏ e* ye o wa wae oe yo u we wi yu ŭ ŭi i

Consonants[]

Hangul
Romanization Initial k kk n t tt r m p pp s ss ch tch ch' k' t' p' h
Final k k n t l m p t t ng t t k t p
  • The consonant digraphs (ㄳ, ㄵ, ㄶ, ㄺ, ㄻ, ㄼ, ㄽ, ㄾ, ㄿ, ㅀ, ㅄ) exist only as finals and are transcribed by their actual pronunciation.
Initial consonant of the next syllable
1
k

n

t

(r)

m

p
2
s

ch

ch'

k'

t'

p'

h
Final
consonant
k g kk ngn kt ngn(S)/ngr(N) ngm kp ks kch kch' kk' kt' kp' kh
n n n'g nn nd ll/nn nm nb ns nj nch' nk' nt' np' nh
t d tk nn tt nn(S)/ll(N) nm tp ss tch tch' tk' tt' tp' th
l r lg ll/nn ld3 ll lm lb ls lj3 lch' lk' lt' lp' rh
m m mg mn md mn(S)/mr(N) mm mb ms mj mch' mk' mt' mp' mh
p b pk mn pt mn(S)/mr(N) mm pp ps pch pch' pk' pt' pp' ph
ng ng ngg ngn ngd ngn(S)/ngr(N) ngm ngb ngs ngj ngch' ngk' ngt' ngp' ngh
  1. ㅇ is an initial consonant before a vowel to indicate the absence of sound.
  2. 쉬 is romanized shwi.
  3. In Sino-Korean words, lt and lch respectively.

For ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㅈ, the letters g, d, b, or j are used if voiced, k, t, p, or ch otherwise. Pronunciations such as those take precedence over the rules in the table above.

Examples[]

Exceptions that do not exactly follow pronunciation[]

North Korean variant[]

In North Korea's variant of McCune–Reischauer, aspirated consonants are not represented by an apostrophe but are instead by adding an "h". For example, 평안 is written as Phyŏngan. The original system would have it written as P'yŏngan.[citation needed] The North Korean variant renders names of people with each syllable capitalized and no hyphenation between syllables of given names: e.g. "Kim Il Sung" for Kim Il-sung.[2]

South Korean variant[]

A variant of McCune–Reischauer was in official use in South Korea from 1984 to 2000. The following are the differences between the original McCune–Reischauer and the South Korean variant:

The following table illustrates the differences above.

Word McCune–Reischauer South Korean variant Meaning
시장 sijang shijang market
쉽다 shwipta swipta easy
소원 sowŏn sowon wish, hope
전기 chŏn'gi chŏn-gi electricity
상어 sangŏ sang-ŏ shark
회사에서 hoesaësŏ hoesa-esŏ at a company
차고에 ch'agoë ch'ago-e in a garage
발해 Parhae Palhae Balhae
직할시 chikhalsi chik'alshi directly governed city[3]
못하다 mothada mot'ada to be poor at
곱하기 kophagi kop'agi multiplication

Other systems[]

A third system, the Yale Romanization system, which is a transliteration system, exists but is used only in academic literature, especially in linguistics.

The Kontsevich system, based on the earlier Kholodovich system, is used for transliterating Korean into the Cyrillic script. Like McCune–Reischauer romanization it attempts to represent the pronunciation of a word, rather than provide letter-to-letter correspondence.

See also[]

Footnotes[]

  1. ^ https://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/korean.pdf page 13
  2. ^ Sweeney, John (2013). North Korea Undercover: Inside the World's Most Secret State. London: Bantam Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4481-7094-4. 
  3. ^ 직할시 (直轄市; "a directly governed city"; jikhalsi in the Revised Romanization) is one of a former administrative divisions in South Korea, and one of a present administrative divisions of North Korea. In 1995, it was replaced by 광역시 (廣域市; gwangyeoksi; "metropolitan city") in South Korea.

External links[]