McCune–Reischauer

McCune–Reischauer romanization (ər/) is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems. A modified version of McCune–Reischauer was the official romanization system in South Korea until 2000, when it was replaced by the Revised Romanization of Korean system. A variant of McCune–Reischauer is still used as the official system in North Korea.[citation needed]

The system was created in 1937 by George M. McCune and Edwin O. Reischauer. With a few exceptions, it attempts not to transliterate Korean hangul but to represent the phonetic pronunciation. McCune–Reischauer is widely used outside Korea.

Characteristics and criticism

Korean has phonologically no distinction between voiced and voiceless consonants, but it phonetically distinguishes them. Aspirated consonants like p', k', and t' are distinguished by apostrophe from unaspirated ones, which may be falsely understood as a separator between syllables (as in 뒤차기twich'agi, which consists of the syllables twi, ch'a and gi). The apostrophe is also used to mark transcriptions of ㄴㄱ (n'g) as opposed to (ng): 잔금chan'gŭm vs. 장음changŭm).

Such common omissions were the primary reason the South Korean government adopted a revised system of romanization in 2000. Critics of the revised system claim it fails to represent and in a way that is easily recognizable. Also, it misrepresents the way that the unaspirated consonants are actually pronounced.

Meanwhile, despite official adoption of the new system in South Korea, many in the Korean Studies community, both inside and outside South Korea, as well as international geographic and cartographic conventions, generally continue to use either the McCune–Reischauer or the Yale system. Also, North Korea uses a version of McCune–Reischauer.

Even within South Korea, usage of the new system is less than universal, like the variant of McCune–Reischauer that was the official Romanization system between 1984/1988 and 2000.

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