And now for something completely different…

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When it comes to bad English, not much surprises me after 10 years in Korea. But seriously, can you think of a more inappropriate name for an ambitious “fashion and music entertainment” label? Even if it has been endorsed by the likes of Miss A, Sistar, 2pm, and Ha Ji-won?

If it was a play on ddong (똥) though, the Korean word for feces, and the similar sounding and meaning English word, then it would actually be quite clever, Korean popular culture literally being full of the stuff (no pun intended). But, alas, it’s actually a bad Romanization of “러벤덩” instead, the “덩” in the last syllable sounding more like dong (or “deong” according to the official system), with the “o” the same as in “hot”. And unfortunately the Korean itself doesn’t even mean anything either, nor is there an explanation of the name on the website.

Not that the clothes themselves are bad of course. But I do have my doubts about the company’s global expansion plans!

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8 thoughts on “And now for something completely different…

  1. “But, alas, it’s actually a bad Romanization of “러벤덩” instead, the “덩” in the last syllable sounding more like dong (or “deong” according to the official system), with the “o” the same as in “hot”.”

    I’m having a hard time mentally hearing the British/Australian/New Zealand pronunication for hot, but I would say based on a North American pronunciation dung is the most accurate romanization, though it should perhaps be avoided because of its association with fecal matter.

    In North American pronunciation:

    오 would be more like ō or oh or the o in hope.
    아 would actually be closer to the sound that appears in hot. Which actually sounds more like ah.
    어 though would most accurately represented by short u in run or sung or even dung i think.

    • But for “오” sounding like “oh” or the “o” in “hope”, I’d have to disagree with all of that. First, that “어” sounds like the “o” in hot actually comes from the US-produced Teach Yourself Korean, so any differences in the Anglo and North-American pronunciations of “hot” isn’t playing a role (not that I think there are differences anyway). Next, while “아” does indeed sound like “ah”, how on Earth is that “closer to the sound that appears in hot”? And finally, I’d say”등” would actually be the closest to the English “dung”.

      Of course, all Romanizations of Korean are approximations at best, and to a certain extent beginners should simply use whatever mental Romanization allows them to distinguish words and be understood by Koreans (I have heard yet more Romanizations in addition to both of ours). So we can happily agree to disagree then, but in my personal opinion I do think that yours are really off-base, and I know that I would have had a much harder time first learning Korean if my first book had used the Romanizations you suggest instead.

  2. My correspondences match Joel’s exactly, and James’s would confuse the hell out of me. (I’m from California.) Vowels are ridiculously variable across English dialects, from the Kiwi “Yiss, I ken”, to the upper midwestern US where “Don” is “Dan” and “Dan” is “Deion”. :-)

    어 seems to overlap the vowel space of my “uh”, “ah”, and “oh”, especially sounding like the latter as a (반말) sentence ender, from some Korean speakers. But (in standard Korean) it usually sounds exaclty like my “uh” in closed syllables. (Korean 헛 sounds almost exactly like my English hut, very different from my hot.)

    • That’s cool: like I said, we can agree to disagree about the Romanizations. But for the record though, of course I’m not saying that vowels aren’t often very different in various dialects and versions of English, although I do still think that the differences with the way “hot” specifically are pronounced are pretty minimal. Having said that, where you hear “hut” for “헛”, I still hear “hot”!

  3. I’m not entirely sure they should be worried about global expansion. If you consider the groups of people (mostly young teens) who are in to more ‘out of the box’ styles and brands it might go over pretty well.

    I can already think of numerous people that would wear these styles JUST because of the ‘dung’. Sometimes I wonder if Korean advertising corporations purposefully ignore the Konglish advertising because they know that it would probably come off more quirky and edgy in the eyes of younger consumers (definitely a plus).

  4. @Auggie:

    Well, I’m neither a Korean nor a young teen, but *I’ve* bought plenty of products just for the mangled English. One of my favorite sweaters (in an inappropriate maroon and gold, as well) reads “STANFORD CALIFRONIA”.

  5. Haha thats a good one! I came across a coffee shop today that read “Cafe La Lee Aging Coffee”. I guess they meant the style of the place is like a classic tea room, but I’ll pass drinking a coffee that might make me feel older… ^_*

    On the other hand, in the Love&Dung advert, I find interesting how they placed the LV trunks in the background to give authenticity and increase their brand image when their brand targets a teen audience. Yet its also risky as LV could take legal action (which they often do when their image is used by others) and that instead of making L&D seem cool it might make it look expensive.

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