In an online version of the Bible, 요한 is underlined in

그 이름은 요한이었다. (His name is John.)

Is that a common thing?  Is it because it is a name, or because it is a foreign word? One of the answers suggests this is a way of emphasis, but emphasis would not be particularly appropriate here.

The same version also starts with

태초에 ‘말씀’이 계셨다.

말씀 here is a metaphorical name for Jesus (“In the beginning was the Word”).  Is quoting such also common?  What are the "rules" for separating a term from its particle in that way?

How to spot English loanwords and Hanja words in a text? asks about foreign words and Hanja, but the answers (so far) address only Hanja.

  • 2
    I'm not sure that this is a Korean specific practice - this seems to be a carry over from English (or whatever original language that started this) versions of the Bible. See this for an extensive amount of underlining of nouns.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 11:50
  • No, we do not do that in English. We don’t have particles in English, nor do we embed names into verbs.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 22:27
  • "nor do we embed names into verbs" ... like boycott or lynch? Or how about: "It seems that Laing has out-Freuded Freud here." (found using Google Books) If anything, it's Korean that does not embed names into verbs.
    – jick
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 4:37
  • 1
    There are noi names embedded into boycott or lynch. "out-Freuded" is rare and notice there is a hyphen there. A Korean might ask a parallel question to mine: "Does English typically use a hyphen when joining a noun to a verb?" You say Korean doesn't embed names into verbs. Do you mean the lack of space in what I quoted is an error or an uncommon thing? If so, then you have answered the question in a comment.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 8:40
  • P.S. Technically, "out-Freuded" is not embedding a name into a verb; it is using the name AS a verb. Perhaps I misinterpreted the Korean: is 이었다 a verb or just a verb inflection?
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 8:43

1 Answer 1


We don't generally underline or quote to mark a person's name. However when we want to emphasize it, it can be underlined, quoted, or marked by dots above the characters, like .

Refer to the Korean Grammar Rules(한글 맞춤법) by the National Institute of Korean Language:

Supplement 18. Emphasis marks (드러냄표; ˙ ) and underline ( ___ )

Used to indicate the notable or important parts of your sentence.

한글의 본디 이름은 이다.

중요한 것은

가 아니라 [![][3]][3]

(source: korean.go.kr)

지금 필요한 것은 _지식_이 아니라 _실천_입니다.
(I cannot underline in Stack Exchange, so think of text between _ to be underlined.)

Instead of emphasis marks and underlines, single quotation marks can be used.

한글의 본디 이름은 '훈민정음'이다.

중요한 것은 '왜 사느냐'가 아니라 '어떻게 사느냐'이다.

지금 필요한 것은 '지식'이 아니라 '실천'입니다.

I think almost no one uses emphasis marks to emphasize nowadays; most people use underlines, bold characters(굵은체 or 볼드체), 'quotes', or sometimes oblique characters(이탤릭체). I, however, am against the use of oblique characters in written Korean since it is hard to read.

There is no special way to distinguish Hanja words(한자어), pure Korean words(고유어, 순우리말), and foreign words(외래어). Even Koreans are confused of this.

For example, some Koreans confuse 생각, 마진(margin), 가십(gossip), 댐(dam) to be Hanja words. They may appear to be when written in Hangul, but they are not!

There are more words that are thought to be traditional Korean words, but are actually foreign words, such as 가방 (from Japanese Kaban かばん), 담배(tobacco) and so on!

(Actually we can tell if a word is Hanja, foreign or pure in most situations, since the words from each groups share common pronunciations. We have a sort of intuition that words like sushi and tempura are Japanese words and kimchi and bulgogi are Korean words, right?)

  • Interesting. So apparently the translators were unaware of this, because emphasis is not the same as just clarifying that it is a title or name.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 8:14
  • I guess that is just a special case of the website, where they underline every proper noun displayed. Have a look at another site, where same content is written, and you can see that no underlines are present. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 13:04
  • But the quote marks for 말슴 are on that site.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 20:29
  • Just an emphasis on the ‘saying’, I think. As you can see, only the first appearance of 말씀 is quoted. Note that there are no absolute rules on language, and in Korean texts what I have wrote in the answer is just ‘common’. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 12:40
  • No, all three occurrences are in quotes on both sites.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 22:25

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