[KS] RR romanization rules and conventions

Sophie Bowman sophiebowman at gmail.com
Tue Jul 2 04:25:53 EDT 2013

Dear KS List,

As a translator, when it comes to names I have been trained to use the
romanization the individual in question uses whenever rendering a person's
name in English. Of course this is a troublesome rule of thumb when we have
to deal with historical figures but any contemporary Korean with a passport
has a fixed rendering of their hangul name using the English alphabet.
These can be extremely various (I, Yi, Lee, Rhee etc.) and break all the
rules, but this can also be useful in helping us to distinguish between a
Min-cheol Lee and a Min-cheol Rhee.
 I have often been frustrated while studying Korean literature and finding
the names of certain authors spelled differently for each publication of
their work, but I couldn't dream of Yi Sang becoming I Sang or Sang Lee, so
even with historical figures, if there is a precedent it is probably a
measured decision to follow it.

Maybe this is a case of a troublesome example? Romanization of place names
for example should strictly follow the system, however many institutions
that use these places do not, thus we get Kyungpook National University in
Gyeongbuk province.

I wonder if there are some examples of this problem when it comes to words
that are not proper nouns?

Sophie Bowman

On 2 July 2013 16:41, Eugene Y. Park <epa at sas.upenn.edu> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> I can fully relate to Chuck's concern. I see that the Revised Romanization
> system renders the surnames 김, 이, and 박 respectively Kim, Yi, and Pak--thus
> contradicting the RR system itself. If my memory serves me right, though, I
> think I've come across renderings of 김 and 박 as Gim and Bak, obviously
> according to RR.
> Best,
> Gene
> Eugene Y. Park
> Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History
> Director, James Joo-Jin Kim Program in Korean Studies
> University of Pennsylvania
> http://www.history.upenn.edu/**faculty/park.shtml<http://www.history.upenn.edu/faculty/park.shtml>
> On 7/2/2013 1:30 PM, Charles Muller wrote:
>> Dear Colleagues,
>> I have noticed in recent articles published by first-tier Korean journals
>> that use RR romanization, the usage of "Yi" to render 이 as a surname
>> (rather than "I" as seems to be stipulated by the Korean government, e.g.
>> http://www.korean.go.kr/eng/**roman/roman.jsp<http://www.korean.go.kr/eng/roman/roman.jsp>
>> ).
>> Having inquired to journal editors who have authorized this rendering, I
>> have basically gotten a response to the effect that this is an exception to
>> RR that is developing as a convention for surnames to avoid confusion.
>> However, these responses so far have been based more or less on hearsay,
>> and no one has been able to provide me with documentation.
>> As the editor of an online dictionary that uses RR for romanizing Korean
>> terms, I would like to see if I can reconcile the matter in as concrete a
>> manner as possible, so any leads would be greatly appreciated.
>> Regards,
>> Chuck
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