Naver lists “서바나” as a translation of Spain. Is this used at all in modern Korean? Is it archaic or frowned upon compared to “스페인”?

  • Those words are the Chinese transliterations of the country names. Most of them are archaic. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


In modern Korean, "서바나" is barely used. It seems that most of younger Korean cannot notice what "서바나" is, whereas most of them know what and where "스페인" is.

It's kind of an attempt to write non-korean word(especially the name of nation) in chinese character(한자) when Korea is unfamiliar with the Latin. And, not important, but it would be "서반아(西班牙)", rather than "서바나".

  • 2
    I think the last point is pretty important: 서반아 is rare, and 서바나 is simply wrong - I haven't seen anyone writing that. It would be like writing 독일 as 도길.
    – jick
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 2:20

서반아 as Spain is rarely used, but 서반아어(Spanish language) is still fairly used; Especially in academic with a short form - 서어. SNU's Hispanic Language and Literature Department is 서어서문학과 in Korean, since most of universities changed their department's name to 스페인어학과.

It's like nobody calls France as 불란서 in these days, but 불어(french language/불란서어, 프랑스어) is still used.

  • Yep, “어” (Russian), “어” (Spanish; actually this is my first time seeing this one), “어” (French), …. Those Sino-prefixes for countries are still in use. The full Sino-names, “서아 (露西亞 / Russia),” “반아 (西班牙 / Spain),” “란서 (佛蘭西 / France),” …, sound archaic, though. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 10:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.