Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Jan 9 18:43:33 UTC 2012

On 1/9/2012 5:01 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett<gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Japchae
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The other day, I saw "jap chay" written on the window of one of those teriyaki joints so often run by Korean immigrants. While that's a sensible way to spell it to assist with pronunciation, it increases the number of spellings of the dish.
> Wikipedia has three spellings: japchae, jabchae and chapchae. The first two have -y alternates on Google, bringing the total to at least seven spellings. ("Chabchay" does not seem to be in use.) This can be doubled by using a space between the two syllables.

I've also (many times) seen the first syllable written "chop", which may
be about right for many US English-speakers.

As for pronunciation ....

To my Anglophone ear the pronunciation by Koreans (and those familiar
with Korean) is /tSap tSE/ ... this would be my own pronunciation ...
some may hear /dZap tSE/.

First syllable seems like "chop" or "chahp" (some may hear
"jop"/"jahp"), second like "cheh" (something like "chay"). I guess most
Anglophones pronounce "Hyundai" (which has the same final vowel) as
rhyming with "Sunday", so I guess the same final "-ay" /ej/ sound should
be [just as] OK in the current word too.

Any expert, please feel fee to correct me; I am near-totally ignorant of
Korean myself. I note that there are various Romanizations, with
imperfect standardization. I note also that restaurateurs and cooks and
waiters are usually not language teachers or linguists.

It seems to me that something like "japchae" is reasonable as a
Romanization of the Korean word, while something like "chopchay" would
furnish a reasonable US pronunciation, while "jap chay" fails both ways.

Here is a presumably Korean person saying the word in Korean (at 0:30 etc.):


Here is a person of Korean origin saying the word while speaking English
(at 0:08 etc.):


Here is a person of presumably North American origin saying it carefully
(at 1:16):


-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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