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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Name Query

   
Author Topic: Name Query
Denevius
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As some of you know, the critique with character names in my novel has been a source of frustration for me. However, in the spirit of compromise, I was thinking of changing the names of the two central characters to something easier to read for Western audiences. If you can vote for which one of these is kindest on the eyes, I'd be thankful.

Main Female Character - Kim Jung Hyun
Potential name change:

1) Sey-Mi

2) Min Seo

3) Su Bin

4) So-Ri

Main Male Character - Song Ji Hun
Potential name change:

1) In-Su

2) Mi-Nu

3) Dong Su

4) Su-Min

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Pyre Dynasty
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This reminds me of a Korean guy I work with, when people ask his name he gets this look on his face and says, "You know what, just call me Jack." Perhaps I'm the wrong person for this since I've worked with quite a few Koreans over the years and enjoy Korean tv dramas. They all seem fine to me.

I like Kim Jung Hyun.

Song In-Su rolls off my American tongue pretty nicely.

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wetwilly
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I think the most important thing is to make the names very different from each other to a Western reader so we can keep straight who is who. Pick names that don't share consonant sounds, especially first letters. The problem for me with the two names you are currently using is the second syllables are J----H---- syllables in both names. They're easily confused with each other for someone like me for whom all these names sounds basically the same due to unfamiliarity.

Also, Jung Hyun is a bit of a twister for my Western tongue.

Maybe this is culturally insensitive, but Dong Su sounds silly to me.

Song Su-Min stands out as memorable to me because of the two S's. I would remember him as the one with two S's. Because of the above considerations, I don't really love any of the current options for the female, because all of them have S's as first letters in a syllable, so they don't really set themselves apart from Song Su-Min enough for me.

Hope that's helpful.

Just out of my own curiosity, why are some hyphenated and others not? I'm ignorant of Korean naming conventions.

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MAP
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The only thing I have a problem with in the original names is that Hyun and Hun are very similar. I suggest changing one of them to something else. I have no preferences. They all seem pretty easy to pronounce to me.
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Reziac
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I like the original names just fine. They're both pleasing to the eye and distinct to the inner ear (whether my western tongue can readily pronounce them doesn't enter into it). I don't think any of the alternates is quite as eye-pleasing, nor do they feel as distinct to me.
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Denevius
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Thanks for replying.

So for the male, Song In-Su and Song Mi-Nu seem to have caught your eye.

Let's add two names to the female list.

Main Female Character - Kim Jung Hyun
Potential name change:

1) Sey-Mi

2) So-Ri

3) Ming Yeon

4) Won Yeon

quote:
Just out of my own curiosity, why are some hyphenated and others not?
Just an attempt to make reading it easier. In Korean, the names read like this:

1) 세미
2) 소리
3) 밍연
4) 왼연

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extrinsic
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I think asking and bluntly answering where the novel will be published and its potential secondary markets are, its target audience, in other words, satisfies the question.

I believe I've suggested this before: Names have underlying meanings. If one of the characters' names translates to and means Mountain Little Flower, consider it for formal functions, use Little Flower or Flower for less formal functions, use Ms. Mountain for formal address.

Your name, for example, without outing it in public, means Fox Blackeye.

[ February 22, 2014, 10:26 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Robert Nowall
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Not sure just how Korean names are transliterated into Roman letters for English readers (I know of several-per-language with others), but if you use the name "Kim Jung" anything, English readers will think of the North Korean dictators---even if, in Korean, the names are different.
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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Not sure just how Korean names are transliterated into Roman letters for English readers (I know of several-per-language with others), but if you use the name "Kim Jung" anything, English readers will think of the North Korean dictators---even if, in Korean, the names are different.

Actually I did think of that, but was quickly distracted by their pleasing eyefeel, and forgot about it. So probably not all that much of an issue.
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legolasgalactica
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If You Use the whole-long-name every time you mention them, I would struggle with any of them. If you often refer to them as "Kim" or "Ming" I'm fine with most of them, I'm also confused about which parts of the names are changing as I don't understand Korean names Is Sey-Mi replacing Kim or Jung Hyun Or some other combination?
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Denevius
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Hello, and thanks for the replies! Actually, I should have made myself more clear. I was *definitely* changing the names, it was just a matter of to what. I decided this for several reasons. First, though I see some of you have gotten used to the characters, the difficulty of the names has been a fairly consistent critique over the development of the novel.

Secondly, though I can pronounce the original names, Kim Jung Hyun and Song Ji Hun, my pronunciation of them isn't all that great. And if I do win the literary lottery, I would like to be able to talk about my characters in a way that makes me sound competent. Massacring their names doesn't do that.

So anyway, I went through the novel changing many of the names to ones that I know I pronounce well in casual usage. Jung Hyun became Sey-Mi, and Ji Hun (which sounds like Ji Hoon) is now Min Geon. Sey-Mi, to my ear, is a pretty name, and relatively easy on a Westerner's eyes. Min Geon is still up in the air. It's actually easy to pronounce, but I'm reluctant to write it as it actually sounds, Min Gun.

Extrinsic, your suggestion is intriguing, but I think for the dark and bleak nature of the novel, using the meaning of the name will read awkwardly. Plus, Koreans don't think of their names like that. A girl whose name is Ah Nyeong, for example doesn't think an informal "Goodbye" when she hears her name, but which is what her name means. For foreigners, it's strange, as we would never name our child Goodbye. But one thing you notice in Asia when you see the names of shops written in English is that they don't put a load of imagination into titles. A mall would simply be called 'Good Mall'. An apartment 'West Building'.

I'm not sure what 'Jung Hyun' means, but it could very well be something totally ordinary, like 'Window'. And if I name her something like 'Tragic', or 'Betrayal', that seems melodramatic or hokey.

Being a guy, I have found it hard to find appealing Korean male names. Sey-Mi and Seung Yeon simply sound like pleasant names, but Min Geon and Ji Hun all sound awkward. I have simply never met a Korean guy when, upon hearing their name, I thought, "Hey, that's cool!"

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legolasgalactica
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I can't read Geon as anything other than "Je-one." Anyway, I'd never have pronounced it "gun" which is cooler.
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