Apostrophe in Hangul

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Google Street View in Pittsburgh at 5809 Forward Ave. shows a Young's Oriental Grocery.

The corresponding Hangul transliteration of "Young's" gives "Young 'seu 영 '스".

I wonder whether this is a common practice in Korea, or whether it only exists among émigré communities abroad.

[h.t. Charles Belov]


  1. Silas S. Brown said,

    November 17, 2016 @ 3:50 am

    What you transcribed as "seu" might be an accidental trick of the camera. Using Street View's controls to move to the next property and look back, we see it from another angle and the first word is the English NEW. It's not clear if the stroke before the 스 is meant to be an apostrophe or an extra part of that character. Perhaps somebody local could call in at a quiet time and ask them.

  2. Keith said,

    November 17, 2016 @ 5:36 am

    The way I pronounce the name "Young" would be written in Hangul as "융"

  3. Todd said,

    November 17, 2016 @ 5:52 am

    This store is about a block away from where I went to high school. My memory isn't good enough to know for sure whether that's really an apostrophe, but from Google Street View it clearly looks like it. I can ask my family to take a clearer picture if anyone is really that interested :)

    I have a different, possibly false, memory about that sign: I remember a stylized "영" standing in for the somewhat similar-looking Roman "Y" in "Young's", so that it read "영oung's". I don't know whether they changed their sign or I just made that up.

    And no, I don't recall ever seeing this precise kind of apostrophe usage in Korea. The closest I can think of is the chain "백's 비빔밥" (example: https://www.menupan.com/Restaurant/GoodRest/GoodRest_View.asp?ID=167703), where both the apostrophe and "s" of the English possessive are inserted in Roman characters.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    November 17, 2016 @ 7:40 am

    If you go to the link provided by Todd in the third paragraph of his comment, please scroll down so that you can see nice photographs of what he's talking about.

  5. Taegyung said,

    November 18, 2016 @ 2:12 am

    As a native speaker of Korean, I would say that is not a usual practice. The hypermarket chain Kim's Club, based in Seoul, is 킴스클럽(kim-seu-keul-leob) without an apostrophe. (http://danbis.net/11099)

    Here's another example, the Korean title of the 1997 Film Knockin' on Heaven's Door is a simple transliteration 노킹온헤븐스도어(no-king-on-he-beun-seu-do-eo) without an apostrophe. (http://izzang65.tistory.com/1437)

    I have never seen an apostrophe used in such situation.

  6. Taegyung said,

    November 18, 2016 @ 2:16 am

    And to add, I am very sure that the store owner intended to write
    영'스 yeong-[apostrophe]-seu as a transliteration of Young's. I cannot think of any other way to read that sign. I don't see any trick of the camera or any other possibility.

  7. Jongseong Park said,

    November 18, 2016 @ 9:30 am

    Oh, I'm pretty sure that an apostrophe is intended here, i.e. 영'스 Yeong'seu for Young's.

    As Taegyung explains, this is not the usual practice in Korean at all, émigré communities or not. It's someone being cute with a bit of multilingual typographic wordplay. For the record, the apostrophe (as opposed to single quotes) is not used in Korean.

    But people can certainly get creative with punctuation marks in stylized logos and such. Here is another example I found, this time in Korea (from this blog post about tea houses in the Insadong neighbourhood of Seoul).

    This a stylized Korean logo for Osulloc Tea House, and reads 오'설록 O'Seollok. 설록 雪綠 Seollok is a brand of green tea, and 오설록 Oseollok or Osulloc/O'Sulloc is an extension of that brand, with 'O' purportedly standing for 'origin', 'only', or 'of'. The brand is usually simply written 오설록 Oseollok in Korean without an apostrophe, and the English-language website spells the brand as Osulloc in English without the apostrophe. But the English logo most frequently encountered for the tea house is stylized as "o'sulloc tea house" (all lower-case). The usual hangul logo for Osulloc just spells 오설록 Oseollok without the apostrophe, so the tea house sign with the apostrophe might be a one-off.

    One thing to make absolutely clear is that a stylized graphical representation in a logo is not the same as normal linguistic usage. The tea house might be stylized as 오'설록 O'Seollok, but in text it will be referred to as 오설록 Oseollok without the apostrophe, just as a toy retailer might be stylized as TOYS"Я"US in its logo, but will still be referred to as Toys "R" Us in text. The flipped R or unexpected foreign punctuation is a creative visual element to make the logo distinctive. One should not over-interpret it as evidence of overturning of linguistic conventions.

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