How translations shape the American perspective of Korea


Abigail (Coy) Ryan

Faculty Mentor(s)

Booyoun Kim (World Languages)


While the human experience may be a shared one, language and culture shape the individual ways in which we perceive the world around us, how we express ourselves the ways in which we relate to others. Words from one language may have no equivalent in another language, and grammatical structurings can change where the main focus of a sentence lies.
Korean and English are two very different languages, and South Korea and America may have two very different cultures, but over the last couple of decades, the two countries have found themselves growing closer than ever. As such, communication is important. However, seeing as no perfect translation exists, this presentation will focus on how the structure and vocabulary of the Korean language itself impacts the translation process in a Korean to English translation. And then, in turn, how this difference between the two languages affects how these translated messages are received by American, English speakers, and how this reception affects the American perception of Korean culture.
This presentation will be looking into what makes the Korean language unique in its grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. It will then compare this to the same features of the English language. From here, I will dive into the process of translation for popular Korean materials like Manhwa, Kpop, Kdrama, and popular Korean products in an attempt to find how these differences are accounted, or unaccounted for. It will look for differences in both language and culture. Finally, it will look at how the final, English translation compares to the original, Korean message. When doing so, the presentation will explain how culture, word order, and word choice impact how the translated message is perceived vs how the original was intended to be. The hope for this presentation is that it may bring a greater understanding of Korean culture to American listeners.

Keywords: Diversity, Korea, Language


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