Korean Translation Tip: Koreans Smile Differently When Writing

I’ve discussed punctuation a few times before in these tips (including about colons, and periods). I guess you could say I’m finding this area to be fertile ground for writing ideas.

The smiley is another interesting little difference between Korean and English.

In English, we have a variety of smileys, including: :-), ;-(, :-D, :/, etc.

But Koreans don’t like to turn their heads sideways, I guess, and so they take a different approach. These are what you’ll find in a Korean text:  

^-^, ^o^, T-T, O_O, -_-, ^_~, etc.

Hint: ^ is supposed to represent a raised eyebrow

Some Korean smileys even incorporate Korean characters:

ㅠㅠ (crying), ㅋㅋㅋ (LOL), ㅎㅎㅎ (ha, ha), etc.

Occasionally I’ll be asked to translate a Korean email into English and if it has emoticons, I generally localize to the way we'd do it in English.

Korean Translation Tip – Koreans no better understand 🙂 than English-speakers understand ^-^, so when translating, it would be a good idea to even match smileys to the reading audience.

2 Responses

  1. Gene says:

    ^^ is not supposed to be raised eyebrows, I guess it must be eyes smiled, when Asians smile their eyes get thinner and shaped like half circle. ^^;

  2. You think? I’ve always assumed it was eyebrows for some reason, but you might be right.

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