You may have been pronouncing 'PyeongChang' incorrectly this whole time

You’ve likely been pronouncing PyeongChang incorrectly this whole time.

PyeongChang, the 2018 host of the Winter Olympics, is a county in the Taebaek Mountains not far from the demilitarized zone that divides South Korea with North Korea. With the games underway, most folks, including broadcasters, have been pronouncing it “Pee-yon-chang.”

That’s close, but linguist James Harbeck explained last month why that pronunciation is slightly off. Actually, the correct way to say PyeongChang is more like “Pee-yon-chong.”

Harbeck explained earlier in the video how tricky it can be to translate Korean to the English language, all the way down the specific sounds.

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Inside the Pyeongchang Olympic village
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Inside the Pyeongchang Olympic village
The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics mascot Soohorang stands at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A bed room is seen at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, center, chats with members of the Canadian Olympic Team during a tour of the Pyeongchang Olympic Village prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Monday, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick Semansky/Pool
A bathroom is seen at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A general view shows a fitness center at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
The Olympic rings are seen at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, second from right, visits with members of the Canadian and Jamaican Olympic teams as they eat lunch during a tour of the Pyeongchang Olympic Village prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Monday, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Patrick Semansky/Pool
A general view shows a dining hall at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A general view shows a dining hall at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A general view shows a recreation centre at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A general view shows a recreation center at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A general view shows a laundry room at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
A general view shows a recreation center at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
The Gangneung Olympic Village is seen in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Volunteers are seen at the Gangneung Olympic Village in Gangneung, South Korea January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
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“South Korea has different words and different sounds making up those words. It’s also written with a completely different writing system. There is a transliteration of it into the Roman alphabet,” Harbeck said. “The problem, though, with transliterations of a language into an alphabet that wasn’t designed for the language is it’s a bit like using Ikea parts meant for one bit of furniture to build an entirely different bit of furniture.”

Here’s what it sounds like coming from a native Korean speaker:

Nobody expects you to sound like a fluent speaker of Korean, but we can all certainly put in the effort to be a little closer to pronouncing PyeongChang correctly.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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