Mistakes Linguists Make in Korean to English Translation

Korean to English Translation

Written by Ibukun Olaware

I'm an established Virtual/Personal Assistant, Transcriber, Yoruba/Pidgin Translator, and a Conversational Copywriter from Lagos.

July 21, 2020

Korean translation is the art (and science) of converting another language into Korean or converting Korean into another language.

This article shall focus on Korean to English translation. This translation can be carried out by software, human, or a combination of both.

Humans have been talking in different languages since the beginning of the world, which has brought about communication problems.

English has become an international language; therefore, the demand and need for Korean to English translation.

The following are some of the common mistakes linguists make while translating from the Korean language to the English language;

Please note that the common mistake is in no particular order.

1. Misuse of Capitalization

The most common mistake linguist make in Korean to English is the misuse of capitalization, and this is because there are no capital letters in the Korean language.

Misuse of Capitalization


For example,

Having ‘Steamed egg’ on a menu board while the next item was spelled as ‘bacon’ and not ‘Bacon’. So, it is clear that there is no consistency in capitalization.

You can refer to Korean capitalization and English for more examples.

2. Singular and Plural

Another mistake is the fact that the Korean language does not differentiate between singular and plural, and thus bring about the incorrect usage in the English language.

For instance, in Korean, one can say, ‘There are ten apple.’ instead of ‘There are ten apples.’

formal form of the different possessive pronouns in Korean language


The above chart shows the formal form of the different possessive pronouns.

informal form of the different Possessive pronouns in Korean language


The above chart shows the informal form of the different possessive pronouns.

Therefore, when people do Korean translation, they use direct translations and not mind the plural forms. This is why Koreans use a singular verb after a plural subject and vice versa.

3. Tenses

There is no difference between the present tense and the past tense in the Korean language.

Tenses in korean language


For example,

In Korean, when you meet your former school teacher, you would say; ‘He is my school teacher’

whereas, in the English language, the correct thing to say is ‘He was my school teacher’ or ‘He is my former school teacher’.

4. Names

Another common mistake linguists make in Korean to English translation is in writing the English name of a Korean man or woman.

Difference between korean and english name


It is often an Asian custom to put the last name before the first name.

Therefore, if an English man is translating, he may assume that the Koreans do the same while writing their names in English.

However, several Koreans write their names using the English style, which is, writing the first name first, followed by the last name.

Also, many other Korean writers put their last name first, and their first name last.

So, the above linguistic and cultural differences usually bring about mistakes and confusion.

These differences can be handled when you have profound knowledge and understanding of the language irrespective of the cultural and language barriers.


So, as a translator, you must be ready to deal with the following problematic areas:

Such as cultural problems, grammar, syntax, lexical-semantic, rhetoric, computer-related challenges, administrative issues, and not to mention the stress involved in the translation.

To avoid all these common language issues – you need an expert to help you adapt your content for international markets. 
We can help you, get in touch.

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