Transliteration of Korean family name

User avatar
Pips
Posts: 907
Joined: 2004-11-02, 21:58
Real Name: Philip Piggott
Gender: male
Location: Ottawa
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Transliteration of Korean family name

Postby Pips » 2005-12-12, 18:29

Can anyone tell me why the very common Korean surname 이 is usually transliterated/pronounced in English as "Lee"? Where the heck does that "L" come from?
Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

User avatar
Psi-Lord
Posts: 10087
Joined: 2002-08-18, 7:02
Real Name: Marcel Q.
Gender: male
Location: Cândido Mota
Country: BR Brazil (Brasil)
Contact:

Postby Psi-Lord » 2005-12-12, 18:32

I've once seen it transliterated as Rhee / Ree, too. Go figure. :lol:
português do Brasil (pt-BR)British English (en-GB) galego (gl) português (pt) •• العربية (ar) български (bg) Cymraeg (cy) Deutsch (de)  r n km.t (egy) español rioplatense (es-AR) 日本語 (ja) 한국어 (ko) lingua Latina (la) ••• Esperanto (eo) (grc) français (fr) (hi) magyar (hu) italiano (it) polski (pl) Türkçe (tr) 普通話 (zh-CN)

User avatar
Kirk
Posts: 2607
Joined: 2005-05-26, 19:43
Real Name: Kirk
Gender: male
Location: Los Angeles
Country: US United States (United States)

Postby Kirk » 2005-12-13, 0:02

Because it came from a historical Chinese word which had /l/ in it, but that /l/ has since disappeared in Modern Korean. However, out of historical analogy or the simple desire to not Romanize the name to "I" (which is what it would be under Korean Romanization) it's usually given a spelling with <l> and more rarely with <r>. Sometimes "Yee" or "Yi" are also seen.

If you're curious, a while ago I posted a message which showed how many people at my university had last names with different versions of the spelling. Not surprisingly, "Lee" was most common, but there were 8 spelling variations in total. Here's my earlier post.
Image
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks

User avatar
Karavinka
Posts: 2309
Joined: 2004-04-24, 4:00
Gender: male
Location: Montréal
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Postby Karavinka » 2005-12-13, 3:06

이(李) is originally pronounced "리."

But when a word starts with ㄹ the initial sound ㄹ changes to ㅇ, therefore '리' as a surname becomes '이.' This is called 'Initial Law.' -- when the character 李 is placed in the middle or the end of the word, it is pronounced '리.'

It is transcribed into (most often) Lee in English because such law doesn't exist in English. (Well, at least this is my guess.)

Initial Law doesn't exist in North Korean standard language, so their name is written 리 without modification.

Rhee is an alternative spelling but it's rarely used nowadays.
↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A
Spoiler Alert: Turkish | -30 Thai | Sink or Zapotec

User avatar
勺园之鬼
Posts: 890
Joined: 2003-05-29, 5:16
Real Name: 君君
Gender: male
Location: :o)
Country: KP North Korea (조선)

Postby 勺园之鬼 » 2005-12-16, 16:09

noir wrote:이(李) is originally pronounced "리."

But when a word starts with ㄹ the initial sound ㄹ changes to ㅇ, therefore '리' as a surname becomes '이.' This is called 'Initial Law.' -- when the character 李 is placed in the middle or the end of the word, it is pronounced '리.'

It is transcribed into (most often) Lee in English because such law doesn't exist in English. (Well, at least this is my guess.)

Initial Law doesn't exist in North Korean standard language, so their name is written 리 without modification.

Rhee is an alternative spelling but it's rarely used nowadays.


South Koreans and the pronunciation are so strange... :P ;)

noir, Kirk, I saw 이/리 spelled according to many strange ways in bilingual lists of Korean students studying in China (hanja + romanisation), and the strangest I bumped into was "Leigh"... :lol: Did any of you see that? This made me laugh so hard. :P
四海为家


Return to “Korean (한국어)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron