The Revised Romanization of Korean (국어의 로마자 표기법; Gug-eoui Romaja Pyogibeop; lit. "Roman-letter notation of the national language") is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea. It was developed by the National Academy of the Korean Language from 1995 and was released to the public on 7 July 2000 by South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Proclamation No. 2000-8.
The new system addressed problems in the implementation of the McCune–Reischauer system, such as the phenomena where different consonants and vowels became indistinguishable in the absence of special symbols. To be specific, under the McCune–Reischauer system, Korean consonants ㄱ (k), ㄷ (t), ㅂ (p) and ㅈ (ch) and ㅋ (k'), ㅌ (t'), ㅍ (p') and ㅊ (ch') became indistinguishable when the apostrophe was removed. In addition, Korean vowels 어 (ŏ) and 오 (o), as well as 으 (ŭ)" and 우 (u), became indistinguishable when the breve was removed. Especially in internet use, where omission of apostrophes and breves is common, this caused many Koreans as well as foreigners confusion. Hence, the revision was made with the belief that if McCune–Reischauer was left unrevised, it would continue to confuse people, both Koreans and foreigners.
|Revised Romanization of Korean|
|Revised Romanization||gugeoui romaja pyogibeop|
|McCune–Reischauer||kugŏŭi romacha p'yogibŏp|
These are notable features of the Revised Romanization system:
- The aspiration distinction between consonants is represented in a new way. The unaspirated consonants ㄱ ㄷ ㅂ ㅈ are represented as ⟨g⟩ ⟨d⟩ ⟨b⟩ ⟨j⟩ respectively, and the aspirated consonants ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅊ are represented as ⟨k⟩ ⟨t⟩ ⟨p⟩ ⟨ch⟩. These letter pairs have a similar aspiration distinction in English at the beginning of a syllable (though they also have a voicing distinction unlike Korean); this approach is also used by Hanyu Pinyin. By contrast, the McCune–Reischauer system uses ⟨k⟩ ⟨t⟩ ⟨p⟩ ⟨ch⟩ both for the unaspirated and aspirated consonants, adding an apostrophe for the aspirated versions (⟨k'⟩ ⟨t'⟩ ⟨p'⟩ ⟨ch'⟩). (The McCune–Reischauer system also includes voicing, which the revised romanization does not.)
- However, ㄱ ㄷ ㅂ ㅈ are not always romanized as ⟨g⟩ ⟨d⟩ ⟨b⟩ ⟨j⟩, depending on their environment. For example, they are romanized as ⟨k⟩ ⟨t⟩ ⟨p⟩ ⟨ch⟩ when placed in the final position, as they are neutralized to unreleased stops: 벽 [pjʌk̚] → byeok, 밖 [pak̚] → bak, 부엌 [pu.ʌk̚] → bueok, 벽에 [pjʌ.ɡe̞] → byeoge, 밖에 [pa.k͈e̞] → bakke, 부엌에 [pu.ʌ.kʰe̞] → bueoke, 컵 [kʰʌp̚] → keop.
- Vowels ㅓ and ㅡ are written as ⟨eo⟩ and ⟨eu⟩ respectively, replacing the ⟨ŏ⟩ and ⟨ŭ⟩ of the McCune–Reischauer system).
- However, ㅝ /wʌ/ is written as ⟨wo⟩ (not ⟨weo⟩), and ㅢ /ɰi/ is written as ⟨ui⟩ (not ⟨eui⟩)
- ㅅ used to be written as sh and s, depending on context. Now it will be written as s in all cases.
- ㅅ /s/ is written as ⟨s⟩ regardless of the following vowels and semivowels; there is no ⟨sh⟩: 사 [sa] → sa, 시 [ɕi] → si.
- When followed by another consonant or when in final position, it is written as ⟨t⟩: 옷 [ot̚] → ot (but 옷에 [o.se̞] → ose).
- ㄹ /l/ is ⟨r⟩ before a vowel or a semivowel and ⟨l⟩ everywhere else: 리을 [ɾi.ɯl] → rieul, 철원 [tɕʰʌ.ɾwʌn] → Cheorwon, 울릉도 [ul.lɯŋ.do] → Ulleungdo, 발해 [pal.ɦɛ̝] → Balhae. Like in McCune–Reischauer, ㄴ /n/ is written ⟨l⟩ whenever pronounced as a lateral rather than as a nasal consonant: 전라북도 [tɕʌl.la.buk̚.do] → Jeollabuk-do
In addition, special provisions are for regular phonological rules in exceptions to transliteration (see Korean phonology).
Other rules and recommendations include the following:
- A hyphen optionally disambiguates syllables: 가을 → ga-eul (fall; autumn) versus 개울 → gae-ul (stream). However, few official publications make use of this provision since actual instances of ambiguity among names are rare.
- A hyphen must be used in linguistic transliterations to denote syllable-initial ㅇ except at the beginning of a word: 없었습니다 → eobs-eoss-seumnida, 외국어 → oegug-eo, 애오개 → Ae-ogae
- It is permitted to hyphenate syllables in the given name, following common practice. Certain phonological changes, ordinarily indicated in other contexts, are ignored in names, for better disambiguating between names: 강홍립 → Gang Hongrip or Gang Hong-rip (not *Hongnip), 한복남 → Han Boknam or Han Bok-nam (not *Bongnam or "Bong-nam")
- Administrative units (such as the do) are hyphenated from the placename proper: 강원도 → Gangwon-do
- One may omit terms such as 시, 군, 읍: 평창군 → Pyeongchang-gun or Pyeongchang, 평창읍 → Pyeongchang-eup or Pyeongchang.
- However, names for geographic features and artificial structures are not hyphenated: 설악산 → Seoraksan, 해인사 → Haeinsa
- Proper nouns are capitalized.
In South Korea
Almost all road signs, names of railway and subway stations on line maps and signs, etc. have been changed according to Revised Romanization of Korean (RR, also called South Korean or Ministry of Culture (MC) 2000). It is estimated to have cost at least 500 billion won to 600 billion won (US$500~600 million) to carry out this procedure. All Korean textbooks, maps and signs to do with cultural heritage were required to comply with the new system by 28 February 2002. Romanization of surnames and existing companies' names has been left untouched because of the reasons explained below. However, the Korean government encourages using the revised romanization of Korean for the new names.
Like several European languages that have undergone spelling reforms (such as Portuguese, German or Swedish), the Revised Romanization is not expected to be adopted as the official romanization of Korean family names. This is because the conditions for allowing changes in romanization of surnames in passport is very strict. The reasons are outlined below.
1. Countries around the world manage information about foreigners who are harmful to the public safety of their countries, including international criminals and illegal immigrants by the Roman name and date of birth of the passport they have used in the past. If a passport holder is free to change their listed Roman name, it would pose a serious risk to border management due to difficulty in determining identities.
2. The people of a country where it is free to change the official Roman name will be subject to strict immigration checks, which will inevitably cause inconvenience to the people of that country.
3. Arbitrary changes in the romanization of passports can lead to a fall in the credibility of the passports and national credit, which can have a negative impact on new visa waiver agreements, etc.
With very few exceptions, it is impossible for a person who has ever left the country under their romanized name to change their family name again.
However, South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism encourages those who “newly” register their romanized names to follow the Revised Romanization of Korean.
In addition, North Korea continues to use a version of the McCune–Reischauer system of romanization, a different version of which was in official use in South Korea from 1984 to 2000.
Textbooks and dictionaries intended for students of the Korean language tend to include this Romanization. However, some publishers have acknowledged the difficulties or confusion it can cause for non-native Korean speakers who are unused to the conventions of this style of Romanization.
ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㄹ are transcribed as g, d, b, and r when placed at the initial of a word or before a vowel, and as k, t, p, and l when followed by another consonant or when appearing at the end of a word.
The revised romanization transcribes certain phonetic changes that occur with combinations of the ending consonant of a character and the initial consonant of the next like Hanguk → Hangugeo. These significant changes occur (highlighted in yellow):
|ㄷ||t||d, j||tg||nn||td||nn||nm||tb||ts||tj||tch||tk||t-t||tp||th, t, ch|
|ㅅ||t||s||tg||nn||td||nn||nm||tb||ts||tj||tch||tk||t-t||tp||th, t, ch|
|ㅈ||t||j||tg||nn||td||nn||nm||tb||ts||tj||tch||tk||t-t||tp||th, t, ch|
|ㅊ||t||ch||tg||nn||td||nn||nm||tb||ts||tj||tch||tk||t-t||tp||th, t, ch|
|ㅌ||t||t, ch||tg||nn||td||nn||nm||tb||ts||tj||tch||tk||t-t||tp||th, t, ch|
Phonetic changes between syllables in given names are not transcribed: 정석민 → Jeong Seokmin or Jeong Seok-min, 최빛나 → Choe Bitna or Choe Bit-na.
Phonological changes are reflected where ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㅈ are adjacent to ㅎ: 좋고 → joko, 놓다 → nota, 잡혀 → japyeo, 낳지 → nachi. However, aspirated sounds are not reflected in case of nouns where ㅎ follows ㄱ, ㄷ, and ㅂ: 묵호 → Mukho, 집현전 → Jiphyeonjeon.
- "Romanization of Korean". Korea.net. Ministry of Culture & Tourism. July 2000. Archived from the original on 16 September 2007. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
- "2005년까지 연차적으로 도로표지판을 바꾸는 데 5000억~6000억원이 들고". Monthly Chosun ilbo. 1 September 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "로마자성명 표기 변경 허용 요건". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Tuttle Publishing: "In addition, easy-to-use phonetic spellings of all Korean words and phrases are given. For example, “How are you?”—annyeonghaseyo? is also written as anh-nyawng-hah-seyo?", blurb for two Korean phrasebooks: Making Out in Korean ISBN 9780804843546 and More Making Out in Korean Archived 2016-03-06 at the Wayback Machine ISBN 9780804838498. All accessed 2 March 2016.
- "Romanization of Korean". National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
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