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McCune–Reischauer romanization (/mɪˈkjuːn ˈraɪʃaʊ.ər/) is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_0

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. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_1

A variant of McCune–Reischauer is still used as the official system in North Korea. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_2

The system was created in 1937 by George M. McCune and Edwin O. Reischauer. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_3

With a few exceptions, it attempts not to transliterate Korean hangul but to represent the phonetic pronunciation. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_4

Characteristics and criticism McCune–Reischauer_section_0

Guide McCune–Reischauer_section_1

This is a simplified guide for the McCune–Reischauer system. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_5

It is often used for the transliteration of names but does not convert every word properly, as several Korean letters are pronounced differently depending on their position. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_6

Vowels McCune–Reischauer_section_2


HangulMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_0_0_0 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_1 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_2 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_3 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_4 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_5 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_6 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_7 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_8 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_9 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_10 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_11 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_12 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_13 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_14 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_15 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_16 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_17 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_18 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_19 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_20 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_0_21
RomanizationMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_0_1_0 aMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_1 aeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_2 yaMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_3 yaeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_4 ŏMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_5 e*McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_6 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_7 yeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_8 oMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_9 waMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_10 waeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_11 oeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_12 yoMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_13 uMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_14 McCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_15 weMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_16 wiMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_17 yuMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_18 ŭMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_19 ŭiMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_20 iMcCune–Reischauer_cell_0_1_21


  • ㅔ is written as ë after ㅏ and ㅗ. This is to distinguish ㅐ (ae) from ㅏ에 (aë), and ㅚ (oe) and ㅗ에 (oë). The combinations ㅏ에 (aë) and ㅗ에 (oë) very rarely occur except in sentences when a noun is followed by a postposition, as, for example, 회사에서 hoesaësŏ (at a company) and 차고에 ch'agoë (in a garage).McCune–Reischauer_item_0_0
  • The Korean surnames 이/리(李) and 이(異) are transcribed as Yi not I (e.g. 이순신 as Yi Sunsin)McCune–Reischauer_item_0_1

Consonants McCune–Reischauer_section_3


HangulMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_1_0_0 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_2 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_3 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_4 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_5 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_6 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_7 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_8 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_9 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_10 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_11 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_12 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_13 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_14 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_15 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_16 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_17 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_18 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_19 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_0_20
RomanizationMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_1_1_0 InitialMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_1_1_1 kMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_2 kkMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_3 nMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_4 tMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_5 ttMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_6 rMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_7 mMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_8 pMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_9 ppMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_10 sMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_11 ssMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_12 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_13 chMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_14 tchMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_15 ch'McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_16 k'McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_17 t'McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_18 p'McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_19 hMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_1_20
FinalMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_1_2_0 kMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_1 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_2 lMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_3 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_4 tMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_5 tMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_6 ngMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_7 tMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_8 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_9 tMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_10 kMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_11 tMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_12 pMcCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_13 McCune–Reischauer_cell_1_2_14


  • McCune–Reischauer_item_1_2
    • The consonant digraphs (ㄳ, ㄵ, ㄶ, ㄺ, ㄻ, ㄼ, ㄽ, ㄾ, ㄿ, ㅀ, ㅄ) exist only as finals and are transcribed by their actual pronunciation.McCune–Reischauer_item_1_3


  • McCune–Reischauer_item_2_4
    • McCune–Reischauer_item_2_5
      1. ㅇ is an initial consonant before a vowel to indicate the absence of sound.McCune–Reischauer_item_2_6
      2. 쉬 is romanized shwi.McCune–Reischauer_item_2_7
      3. In Sino-Korean words, lt and lch respectively.McCune–Reischauer_item_2_8

For ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, and ㅈ, the letters g, d, b, or j are used if voiced, k, t, p, or ch otherwise. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_7

Pronunciations such as those take precedence over the rules in the table above. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_8

Examples McCune–Reischauer_section_4


  • Voiceless/voiced consonantsMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_9
    • 가구 kaguMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_10
    • 등대 tŭngdaeMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_11
    • 반복 panbokMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_12
    • 주장 chujangMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_13
  • The initial consonant ㅇ is disregarded in romanization, since it is only used in order to indicate the absence of sound.McCune–Reischauer_item_3_14
    • 국어 (pronounced 구거) kugŏ (not kukŏ)McCune–Reischauer_item_3_15
    • 믿음 (pronounced 미듬) midŭm (not mitŭm)McCune–Reischauer_item_3_16
    • 법인 (pronounced 버빈) pŏbin (not pŏpin)McCune–Reischauer_item_3_17
    • 필요 (pronounced 피료) p'iryo (not p'ilyo)McCune–Reischauer_item_3_18
  • r vs. lMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_19
    • rMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_20
      • Between two vowels: 가로 karo, 필요 p'iryoMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_21
      • Before initial ㅎ h: 발해 Parhae, 실험 sirhŏmMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_22
    • lMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_23
      • Before a consonant (except before initial ㅎ h), or at the end of a word: 날개 nalgae, 구별 kubyŏl, 결말 kyŏlmalMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_24
      • ㄹㄹ is written ll: 빨리 ppalli, 저절로 chŏjŏlloMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_25
  • Consonant assimilationsMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_26
    • 연락 (pronounced 열락) yŏllakMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_27
    • 독립 (pronounced 동닙) tongnipMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_28
    • 법률 (pronounced 범뉼) pŏmnyulMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_29
    • 않다 (pronounced 안타) ant'aMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_30
    • 맞히다 (pronounced 마치다) mach'idaMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_31
  • PalatalizationsMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_32
    • 미닫이 (pronounced 미다지) midajiMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_33
    • 같이 (pronounced 가치) kach'iMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_34
    • 굳히다 (pronounced 구치다) kuch'idaMcCune–Reischauer_item_3_35

Exceptions that do not exactly follow pronunciation McCune–Reischauer_section_5


  • The sequences -ㄱㅎ-, -ㄷㅎ- (only when palatalization does not occur)/-ㅅㅎ-, -ㅂㅎ- are written kh, th, ph respectively, even though they are pronounced the same as ㅋ (k'), ㅌ (t'), ㅍ (p').McCune–Reischauer_item_4_36
    • 속히 sokhi (pronounced 소키)McCune–Reischauer_item_4_37
    • 못하다 mothada (pronounced 모타다)McCune–Reischauer_item_4_38
    • 곱하기 kophagi (pronounced 고파기)McCune–Reischauer_item_4_39
  • When a plain consonant (ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, or ㅈ) becomes a tensed consonant (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, or ㅉ) in the middle of a word, it is written k, t, p, s, or ch respectively, even though it is pronounced the same as ㄲ (kk), ㄸ (tt), ㅃ (pp), ㅆ (ss), or ㅉ (tch).McCune–Reischauer_item_4_40
    • 태권도 (pronounced 태꿘도) t'aekwŏndoMcCune–Reischauer_item_4_41
    • 손등 (pronounced 손뜽) sontŭngMcCune–Reischauer_item_4_42
    • 문법 (pronounced 문뻡) munpŏpMcCune–Reischauer_item_4_43
    • 국수 (pronounced 국쑤) kuksuMcCune–Reischauer_item_4_44
    • 한자 (漢字, pronounced 한짜) hanchaMcCune–Reischauer_item_4_45

North Korean variant McCune–Reischauer_section_6

Main article: Romanization of Korean (North) McCune–Reischauer_sentence_9

In North Korea's variant of McCune–Reischauer, aspirated consonants are not represented by an apostrophe but are instead by adding an "h". McCune–Reischauer_sentence_10

For example, 평성 is written as Phyŏngsŏng. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_11

The original system would have it written as P'yŏngsŏng. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_12

However, the consonant ㅊ is transcribed as "ch", and not "chh", while ㅈ is transcribed as "j". McCune–Reischauer_sentence_13

For example, 주체 is spelled "Juche", and not "Chuch'e", as it would be transcribed using the original system. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_14


  • ㅉ is written as "jj" (for example, 쪽발이 is spelled as "jjokpari").McCune–Reischauer_item_5_46
  • ㄹㄹ is transcribed as "lr". Example: 빨리 is spelled "ppalri".McCune–Reischauer_item_5_47
  • ㄹㅎ is spelled "lh", and not "rh": e.g. 발해 is written as "palhae".McCune–Reischauer_item_5_48
  • When ㄹ is pronounced as ㄴ (e.g. 목란), it is transcribed as "n" by the original system (Mongnan). Nevertheless, the North Korean variant keeps it as "r" (Mongran).McCune–Reischauer_item_5_49
  • ㅇㅇ and ㄴㄱ are differentiated by using a "-". For example: 강인 is spelled "kang-in", and 인기 is spelled "in-gi".McCune–Reischauer_item_5_50
  • When "ng" is followed by "y" or "w", however, the hyphen is not used (평양 and 강원 are written as "Phyŏngyang" and "Kangwŏn").McCune–Reischauer_item_5_51

The North Korean variant renders names of people with each syllable capitalized and no hyphenation between syllables of given names: e.g. "Kim Il Sung" for Kim Il-sung. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_15

Native Korean names, however, are written without syllabic division. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_16

South Korean variant McCune–Reischauer_section_7

A variant of McCune–Reischauer was in official use in South Korea from 1984 to 2000. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_17

The following are the differences between the original McCune–Reischauer and the South Korean variant: McCune–Reischauer_sentence_18


  • 시 was written as shi instead of the original system's si. When ㅅ is followed by ㅣ, it is realized as the [ɕ] sound (similar to the English [ʃ] sound (sh as in show)) instead of the normal [s] sound. The original system deploys sh only in the combination 쉬, as shwi.McCune–Reischauer_item_6_52
  • ㅝ was written as wo instead of the original system's wŏ in this variant. Because the diphthong w (ㅗ or ㅜ as a semivowel) + o (ㅗ) does not exist in Korean phonology, the South Korean government omitted a breve in wŏ.McCune–Reischauer_item_6_53
  • Hyphens were used to distinguish between ㄴㄱ and ㅇㅇ, between ㅏ에 and ㅐ, and between ㅗ에 and ㅚ in this variant system, instead of the apostrophes and ë in the original version. Therefore, apostrophes were used only for aspiration marks and ë was not used in the South Korean system.McCune–Reischauer_item_6_54
  • When ㄹ is followed by ㅎ, the ㄹ was written as l in the South Korean variant. Under the original McCune–Reischauer system, it is written as r.McCune–Reischauer_item_6_55
  • Assimilation-induced aspiration by an initial ㅎ is indicated. ㄱㅎ is written as kh in the original McCune–Reischauer system and as k' in the South Korean variant.McCune–Reischauer_item_6_56

The following table illustrates the differences above. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_19


WordMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_2_0_0 McCune–ReischauerMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_2_0_1 South Korean variantMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_2_0_2 MeaningMcCune–Reischauer_header_cell_2_0_3
시장McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_1_0 sijangMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_1_1 shijangMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_1_2 marketMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_1_3
쉽다McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_2_0 shwiptaMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_2_1 swiptaMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_2_2 easyMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_2_3
소원McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_3_0 sowŏnMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_3_1 sowonMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_3_2 wish, hopeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_3_3
전기McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_4_0 chŏn'giMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_4_1 chŏn-giMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_4_2 electricityMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_4_3
상어McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_5_0 sangŏMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_5_1 sang-ŏMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_5_2 sharkMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_5_3
회사에서McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_6_0 hoesaësŏMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_6_1 hoesa-esŏMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_6_2 at a companyMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_6_3
차고에McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_7_0 ch'agoëMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_7_1 ch'ago-eMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_7_2 in a garageMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_7_3
발해McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_8_0 ParhaeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_8_1 PalhaeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_8_2 BalhaeMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_8_3
직할시McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_9_0 chikhalsiMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_9_1 chik'alshiMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_9_2 directly governed cityMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_9_3
못하다McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_10_0 mothadaMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_10_1 mot'adaMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_10_2 to be poor atMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_10_3
곱하기McCune–Reischauer_cell_2_11_0 kophagiMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_11_1 kop'agiMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_11_2 multiplicationMcCune–Reischauer_cell_2_11_3

Other systems McCune–Reischauer_section_8

A third system, the Yale Romanization system, which is a transliteration system, exists but is used only in academic literature, especially in linguistics. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_20

The Kontsevich system, based on the earlier Kholodovich system, is used for transliterating Korean into the Cyrillic script. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_21

Like McCune–Reischauer romanization it attempts to represent the pronunciation of a word, rather than provide letter-to-letter correspondence. McCune–Reischauer_sentence_22

See also McCune–Reischauer_section_9


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page:–Reischauer.