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Showing posts from February, 2011

Korean Names, and Crazy Language Idiosyncrasies

Korean names are tough for non-Koreans. Before I came to Korea, I used to just be pretty bad at remembering Korean names, because they don't vary as much from one another as Western names tend to. I'm fine with remembering Korean names now, but Koreans have an annoying habit of making it exceedingly difficult to learn their names.

The first problem is that you never know what form of someone's name you're going to get. If I ask a Korean what their name is, sometimes they give me their English name, sometimes they give me their name in standard Korean family name/given name order, and sometimes they give me their Korean name in Western given name/family name order. It's most annoying when they give an English name that they don't actually use, because then you won't know when someone is calling them with their Korean name. If they give you both English and Korean names, you now have twice as many names to remember. And a lot of Korean names said backwards (i…