Romanized Korean in Kpop Fanfics
I get it. Sometimes when you’re writing a Kpop fanfic, you want to make the experience as authentic for the reader as possible. And what better way to do that than to throw the occasional Korean in here and there?
Romanized Korean is great; there are certain colloquial things in Korean that you just can’t translate into English. So yes, all the power to you writers out there using romanized Korean - kudos to you for trying to incorporate another language into your writing in a way that makes your story flow more naturally in a certain cultural setting. But are you doing it correctly?
I can’t tell you how much I cringe when I find a well-written fic and am enjoying it… when the author drops some misused romanized Korean smack in the middle. For those of you scrunching their noses at this post and thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a fic. Just ignore it.” I’d like to point out that yes it is slightly insulting when someone misuses your language, acts like it’s not a big deal, and continues to misuse your language even if they may or may not know that they are misusing it.
So to spread awareness on using proper romanized Korean, I am uploading this post to share several common mistakes that fanfic writers tend to make.
Hope you find this helpful!
- “Jongin-yah”x “Hwasa-ah”×
- Can you tell me why these are wrong?
- If these sound right to you, you are probably not using these suffixes correctly.
- RULE: -ah is used with names that end in a consonant sound while -yah is used with names that end in a vowel sound.
- RULE: you should only use -ah/-yah when directly addressing someone.
- “Jungkook-ah, we really need to hang out sometime!“
- “Hani-yah, let’s go study at the library later today.”
- NEVER use these suffixes in the object form/to refer to someone.
- “Did our Sungmin-ah sleep well last night?”x
- "I was with Sunny-yah at the club yesterday.“x
- Personally, I dislike seeing ‘jagi’ in fanfics because it does translate into ‘Honey’ or ‘Sweetheart’ and other similar terms of endearment. But if you must use it for whatever reason, make sure you’re using it correctly!
- “Our jagi-yah looks so cute today!”x
- “Is our jagi-yah sick?”x
- This is such a common mistake.
- As in the previous lesson, ‘jagi’ ends with a vowel sound, therefore the appropriate ending is? Yup. -Yah.
- So why is the above example wrong?
- As in the previous lesson, you should ONLY use -yah after ‘jagi’ when you are directly addressing someone and not commenting on their appearance/condition/etc.
- “Jagi-yah, let’s go eat something yummy today~”
- “I bought a pretty necklace for our jagi.”
- “I went on a date with Suhoie-ah yesterday.”x
- That actually killed me to type.
- RULE: Unlike -ah/-yah, you can use -ie in the object form/to refer to someone and to comment on someone’s appearance/condition/etc.
- RULE: Only use -ie if the name ends with a consonant sound.
- “Have I ever introduced you to Sebomie?”
- “Jiminie performed so well on stage today.”
- “Did you get Youngjaeie’s number?”x
- NEVER use -ie and -ah/-yah together
- “Kim Soohyunie-yah is my kdrama crush!”x
- Just. No.
- NEVER use the suffixes -ah/-yah outside of Kpop fanfics. -ie is okay.
- For example, when commenting on a music video:
- “Sehunie is so good looking” is perfectly fine.
- “Kihyun-ah sings so well!” is not since you’re commenting on a quality of his and not directly addressing him.
- “Annyeong! Jeoneun Irene ibnida!”x
- Lit. Translated: “Hello! I am Irene!”
- Bottom line is, if you can translate directly into English, I implore you to stay away from romanized Korean.
- You might as well just type your whole story in Korean if you’re going to use romanized Korean so heavily.
- “Umma, how have you been?“x
- Lit. Translated: “Mom, how have you been?”
- PLEASE DON’T USE SARANGHAEYO IN YOUR FIC OR I WILL FIND YOU AND-
- Sorry. It needed to be said.
- Honestly speaking, using romanized Korean in your fics isn’t completely necessary. If your story setting is in Korea and the majority of your characters are Korean, then it’s assumed that they are speaking Korean even though you’re writing in English. You don’t see professional Dramafever subtitles using -ah/-yah or oppa in their subs do you?
Anywaaaaaays happy fanfic writing and I hope this wasn’t too confusing :)
Note: I am Korean