Word Wednesday #13: A Peek At Hangul Pt. 4, Your Name in Hangul

In my English classes, there’s a certain structure to the type of content we present. It usually goes: receive, produce; receive, produce.

The first receive-produce is in listening (a receptive skill) followed by speaking (a productive skill).

The second is reading (also receptive) followed by writing (also productive).

Therefore we’ve now spent 3 crash courses on how to read hangul – I think it’s time we up the ante and practice writing yourself!

Don’t worry, nothing too hard – let’s just try translating our names into hangul. Let’s take a look at our trusty Korean alphabet chart again:

From here, take a look at your name (and I’ll demonstrate with my own).

First, divide your name into syllables. Mine is Marta, so it’s mar/ta.

Then pay attention to the sounds in your name. Below is a breakdown of mine:

m = ㅁ

a = ㅏ

r = ㄹ


t = ㅌ

a = ㅏ

And remember about the syllable stacking – left to right, and top to bottom – so together it looks like:


As I mentioned in the previous lesson, sometimes syllables are added to give a more true-to-English sound. In my name, for example, because of the consonant variable of “ㄹ” sounding like “r” at the beginning of a syllable and “l” at the end, “말타” would be read like “Malta” by a Korean.

You can get around this by adding vowels to syllables to get the consonant where you want it to be, in my case, to get the “ㄹ” to the beginning of the syllable. So I could make my name look more like this: 마르타. (Note: sometimes this compromises the structure of your name too much, however, and so for simplicity’s sake, I just usually accept “말타”).

Also take special care if your name contains sounds that need to be substituted. Here are some common ones:

f —> p (ㅍ)

v —> b (ㅂ)

x –> keu-seu (크스)

z –> jeu (즈)

th —> t (ㅌ)

ph —> p (ㅍ)

sh –> s (ㅅ) OR si [sounds like “she”] (시 –> this is the only consonant/vowel combo that will produce an “sh” sound in Korean; note that it doesn’t work with other “ㅅ+vowel” combinations)

Most of these should come natural if you think more about how the English word sounds rather than looks when written down in our alphabet.

Note: If your name ends in an “s”, usually the last syllable will be “스”. If you’ll recall, this is because Koreans naturally tack on vowels to consonants because it sounds more natural to their speech that way.

Tip: try writing on graph paper to give yourself proportionate parameters to work with. Most Asiatic scripts (Korean, Chinese, Japanese) follow a square-like structure. Line paper is better than nothing if you don’t have graph paper at your disposal.

When you’re finished, I thought it would be fun for you guys to post your results in the comments! Since most of you obviously don’t have Korean keyboards, I found this website with a virtual Korean keyboard. Careful though! The hangul letters don’t phonetically match the English letters.

Korean/English keyboard. This is what my work keyboards look like.

And of course if you want any help with translating your name or anything else, I will be happy to assist!

3 thoughts on “Word Wednesday #13: A Peek At Hangul Pt. 4, Your Name in Hangul

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