Most English speakers would naturally think that a word like "haenyeo" should be pronounced as "haen-yeo", but in fact it should be "hae-nyeo" (해 녀).
This would also affect what the expected hangul representation is.

What rule determines where the break occurs?

1 Answer 1


Converting from Hangul to Alphabet is a lossy process, so (in many cases) you cannot know the original Hangul spelling for certain. In your example, if we had a hypothetical word "핸여", it would also become "haenyeo".

In a sense, to reverse the conversion, you have to already know that 해녀 is a word but 핸여 isn't.

  • Maybe apostroph could be used in romanized spelling, like it is used for Japanese and Mandarin. E.g. Japanese 下人 => "genin" versus Japanese 原因 => "gen'in", Mandarin 天安 => "Tiān'ān", Mandarin 先 => "xiān" versus Mandarin 西安 => "Xī'ān". Then hypothetical word 핸여 => "haen'yeo".
    – Arfrever
    Aug 22, 2023 at 19:54

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