I'm having a children's picture book translated into Korean. I have a couple questions about the translations for i) the title and ii) the first two sentences. I would appreciate any advice possible.

The book is about two brothers, Alex and Tom, who spend the day playing with their friend, Elephant (who is in reality a stuffed animal). The target audience is families outside Korea that are interested in helping their kids learn Korean, but the caregivers themselves might only know English.


  • Alex and Tom’s Big Day with Elephant 코끼리와 특별한 날을 보낸 알렉스과 톰

The first two sentences are

  • Alex, the stuff is everywhere!

Alex-A) 알렉스, 다 흩뜨려졌어!

Alex-B) 알렉스, 물건이 어질러져 있어!

  • Tom, who made this mess?

Tom-A) 톰, 누가 이렇게 어지른 거야?

Tom-B) 톰, 이 난장판을 누가 만든거야?

I would appreciate any advice about which translation for each sentence is more natural. This book is intended to help with language learning (and I can then modify the English translation if needed). I included a screen shot to share the context of the phrases.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

translation 1

translation revised

  • It could've been better to put 만든 거야 in place of 만든거야. And regarding the verb 어질러져 they usually say 방이 어질러져 있어 than 물건이 어질러져 있어. All the others look good to me.
    – Coconut
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 8:26
  • thank you very much! Do you mean that 알렉스, 방이 어질러져 있어! is a common phrase for parents to use with kids? (I'd rather use a popular phrase than try to match the English, especially if 알렉스, 다 흩뜨려졌어! is "weird")
    – K Why
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 16:17
  • No it doesn't have to do with the context. I mean the direct object of the verb 어지르다 is usually the place where it's done, not means of doing it. 책상을 어질렀다-ok 방을 어질렀다-ok 서랍을 어질렀다-ok 물건을 어질렀다-This kinda makes sense but isn't very common. It makes me think this way: "Isn't it supposed to be like 어떤 물건을 가지고 방을 어질렀다?" Also, "알렉스, 물건이 어질러져 있어!" "알렉스, 다 흩뜨려졌어" if these two sentences sound weird I think it's because they use passive voice. I'd rather say, "알렉스, 방을 어질러 놨어!" "알렉스, (장난감을) 다 흩뜨려 놨어!"
    – Coconut
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 15:43
  • Good examples of classic phrases that parents use is this: 방이 엉망이구나. / 방이 난장판이야. / 왜 이렇게 너저분하게 어질러 놓니? / 방이 왜 이렇게 너저분해? / 누가 이렇게 어질러 놨어?
    – Coconut
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 15:43
  • Thank you very much for explaining!
    – K Why
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 19:56

2 Answers 2


Korean and English are not one-to-one correspondent, Both are a little weird in Korean, but Alex-A) and Tom-A) is more natural then B.

In Alex-B), emphasize(coloring) in "다" is unnatural. Korean don't emphasize pronouns in written language.

In Tom-B), "난장판을 만들다" is unnatural. Korean don't phrase like "made (phrase for the situation, like a mess, stuff...)". it's better than using "make", "어지르다" is appropriate.

and Title, the main event is "the day", not "Tom and Alex". "알렉스와 톰의 코끼리와 함께한 특별한 날" is better.

  • Thanks for your feedback. I did my best to review all the comments, and hopefully I matched up the Korean correctly...It sounds like this may be the best combination, but it's still weird. Alex, things are everywhere! 알렉스, 다 흩뜨려졌어! Tom, who made this mess? 톰, 누가 이렇게 어지른 거야? Since you say it's weird, my main question now is how bad the quality is and if I should find a different translator? Also, this was suggested as an option: 알렉스, 방이 어질러져 있어! Does this help at all to address the weirdness?
    – K Why
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 16:09

I think "알렉스, 다 흩뜨려졌어!" and "톰, 누가 이렇게 어지른 거야?" are better than the alternatives.

"물건이 어질러져 있어" is not impossible, but that sounds strange to me - I think 물건 is closer to English thing (as in, "이 물건은 뭐지?" What is this thing?)

Also 어지르다 is a perfect word for describing a kid making a mess out of a room - 난장판 sounds a bit more generic.

  • Thank you very much for all your feedback! Based on all the comments, it sounds like this may be the best combination. Alex, things are everywhere! 알렉스, 다 흩뜨려졌어! Tom, who made this mess? 톰, 누가 이렇게 어지른 거야? After hearing the feedback, I'm a bit concerned about the translation quality. Can you share your thoughts on whether I need to find a different translator and/or start over? Also, would this translation help improve things at all? Alex, the room is messy! 알렉스, 방이 어질러져 있어!) (I can change the English, I'd rather use what's natural)
    – K Why
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 16:14
  • Well it's hard to gauge translation quality with just two sentences, but generally speaking, naturally sounding translation is hard - even more for kids's books. I guess you might get better result if your tell the translator that the original English phrases aren't fixed and may have some wiggle rooms to allow better Korean phrases - though I've never worked with translators, so that's just my guess.
    – jick
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 6:24

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