Korean names and kumamoto
I've been thinking about baby names. Not that my fiancée and I are planning on having kids any time soon, but when we do, I'd like to give my child(ren) names that sound okay in both Korean and English. This is more difficult than you may think. Just take a look at how many Korean names sound or look ridiculous in English: Chin, Du, Gook, Ho, Doh, Suk, Bong, Hee, Goo, U, Dong, So, Shin, Woong... There seem to be precious few names that sound good in English. I suppose this holds true for many non-Western names. I'll even admit that my own first name, Hiroyuki, sounds pretty silly in English. (It sounds okay in Japanese though. Trust me.) There are a few Japanese names, like Ken and Naomi, that sound good in English. So far, I've found only one name that sounds okay in English, Japanese and Korean: Hana. Here's another nice name that exists in both Korean and English: Lia.
If I have a boy I guess I'll just have to call him Bong. Have some good name suggestions? Please drop me a line.
Here's an interesting site that allows you to search baby names by country/ethnicity of origin.
I heard from Jeff, a Kenyan guy here in Oita, that "kumamoto" means "a loose woman" in Swahili. It's also a city in western Kyushu, Japan. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to Kumamoto University, huh? Even stranger: in the language spoken in Jeff's village, the word oshiri means butt, which is exactly what oshiri (お尻）means in Japanese! This is it! Definitive proof for the Out of Africa theory for the Japanese language!
Here's something else that I found interesting: There's a Korean word 힘들다(himdulda) that means "exhausted". Now, check this out. In the Japanese dialect spoken in Miyazaki, a city in southeastern Kyushu, Japan, hindareta means the same thing! I think this is pure coincidence though, since the "da" at the end of the Korean word is simply the infinitive ending for verbs that corresponds to "ru" in Japanese. So actually, we should be comparing himdulda and hindareru. I guess they're not so similar after all. I was all excited when I first heard it though.
As I write this, I'm listening to an interview with the director of The Day After Tomorrow on NPR. He sounds like a complete woong if you ask me.
It's amazing how nasal American English sounds to me now. I never noticed that before.