You’ve probably been pronouncing “PyeongChang” wrong
It’s almost time for the Olympics! This year, the games will take place in the South Korean city of PyeongChang, making the 2018 Winter Olympics the first to be held in an Asian country other than Japan. And while we’re looking forward to the opening ceremony on February 9th, there’s one important question on our minds: How do you pronounce “PyeongChang”?
Many English speakers have been struggling with how to pronounce PyeongChang. Even NBC, the network hosting the Olympics, has had some difficulty pronouncing the city’s name. According to New York Business Journal, NBC anchors pronounced the “Chang” in “PyeongChang” as both “chung” and “chang” throughout November. In the end, NBC reportedly decided to settle on “pee-yong-chang” as the correct pronunciation.
Okay, so how do you actually say it?
Korean uses a different writing system than English, but the names of its cities can be written using the Roman alphabet. And based on the way “PyeongChang” is spelled in English, it looks like it should be read “Pyong-chang.”
But the Korean language includes sounds that aren’t represented by English letters, so the romanization of Korean names doesn’t necessarily do those names justice.
"The problem, though, with transliterations of a language into an alphabet that wasn't designed for the language, is that it's like using IKEA parts meant for one bit of furniture to build an entirely different bit of furniture," linguist James Harbeck explains in a Youtube video.
Harbeck then goes on to break down how to say the name of the Olympic host city, along with several other important Olympic sites.
Did you hear that? “Pyung-chong”!
And here’s how the name sounds when it’s pronounced by a native speaker:
After all these months of mispronouncing it, we’re glad to finally know how to pronounce PyeongChang. We can’t wait to watch the world’s best athletes compete while learning a bit about South Korean culture along the way.