SEOUL, South Korea, Oct 09 (Korea Bizwire) – October 9 is the 567th Hangul Day and we observe it as a holiday from this year after 22 years of hiatus. Since 1446 when King Sejong declared the new written language system for everyone to use easily, Koreans have been the only people in the world who use the “consciously invented” language.
Even though Hangul is easy to learn and use, still there are so many of us who “pollute” it with foreign loan words and confusing neologisms. People who mix up English words in their everyday speech think they are more educated and superior to those who don’t.
This situation is not so different in naming brands. According to an inquiry by Carz (www.carz.co.kr), a used car trading website, made in commemoration of the Hangul Day holiday, out of all 90 domestically made cars there is not one car with a Korean-sounding name.
The language used most frequently in auto brand names was English, accounting for 30 percent in total. Some of the names originated from Spanish, Italian, or Latin. For example, Avante, the sub-compact sold by Hyundai Motor, took the name from a Spanish word “forward.” Hyundai Motor’s luxury sedan Equus comes from a Latin word “horse.”
Often the names are borrowed from resort towns in the United States or Italy, such as Malibu, Orlando, and Sorento. In other cases, musical terms like Accent or Forte are used.
In the past, there were several instances where Korean-like car brand names were used. Daewoo Motor had launched Maepsina in 1983 as well as Nubira in 1997, both of which were now discontinued. There were also commercial truck models Yamuzine (Samsung) and Musso (Ssangyong), but not anymore.
A Carz official said, “The reason Korea’s auto makers stay away from using Korean brand names may have to do with the fact that they have to sell them overseas too.”
For example, GM once marketed its Chevy Nova in the Latin American market in the 1970s. The word “nova,” meaning in English a star that suddenly becomes much brighter, is “it doesn’t go” in Spanish. To avoid this from happening, many car makers use different names for different cultures. Kia Motors changed the name of its sub-compact Pride to “Rio” in overseas markets. The city car Morning was transformed into “Picanto.”
Then one may ask: Why can’t the auto makers use Korean names in the domestic market and foreign names in the export market? To this, car companies respond that they spend a huge amount of money to come up with attractive names for their new cars. An alphanumeric name such as K7 of Kia Motor cost a fortune for the company as it commissioned the project to a research team at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.
The Carz official said, “These days, more and more cars have alphanumeric names such as K3, K5, K7, or SM3, SM5, and SM7. Under these circumstances, it is not likely for us to see a new car model with a Korean-sounding name any time soon.”