How to Pronounce Hyundai?

Imagine the confusion. The ultra-chic Tate Galleries in London, England had just announced that it’s massive, 3,300 square metre Turbine Hall would display artworks commissioned by Korean industrial giant Hyundai. As famous for its displays of large-format cutting-edge modern art as its celebrity-studded opening events, the Hyundai Turbine Gallery had the rich and famous, as well as the media, struggling with the correct pronunciation of the company’s name. And with good reason.

The Korean alphabet is known as Hangul and has been used to write the Korean language since the 15th century. It consists of 19 consonants and 21 vowels (versus the 21 consonants and 5 primary vowels in English), so there’s an immediate mismatch when trying to translate words from Hangul. In some cases it’s difficult to assemble a word written in Hangul into English. Like Hyundai.

With the opening of the Tate’s Hyundai Turbine Gallery, the BBC took a look at the issue. According to Jo Kim, a linguist and Korean specialist at the BBC Pronunciation Unit, the original Korean pronunciation is closest to HYUNday (-hy as in Hugh, -u as in bun, -ay as in day, stressed syllables shown in upper case). In Korean the name is derived from the word for modernity.

However, when Hyundai in the UK advertises its cars, they pronounce the company name as Hundai or high-UUN-digh (-igh as in high, -uu as in book).

This is actually an issue for Hyundai around the globe. For example Hyundai Canada, along with the US, decided upon the pronunciation that’s easiest for their local customers. After all, Hyundai was the first Korean carmaker that entered North America, and unlike its Japanese predecessors its name didn’t translate as easily as other car makers. However, staff members dealing with the company’s global business still use the Korean pronunciation.

Hyundai's Canadian operation uses the pronunciation HUNday (-h as in hot, -u as in bun, -ay as in day). As Hyundai entered the Canadian market before the US, the American’s adopted the Canadian pronunciation. But in a California, one Hyundai dealership's Spanish language TV ads uses another version, sounding something like Han-die. Imagine the confusion from one language to another.

So, there you have it. In Canada and the United States the pronunciation is Hunday, which rhymes with Sunday. Simple enough. Since we have a little space left, we’d like to share with you a few interesting facts about the Hyundai Motor Group.

  • When measured by production volume, Hyundai Motor Company is the third largest automobile producer in the world.
  • Hyundai Motor Company is the second largest Korean conglomerate; Samsung is the largest. This doesn’t include Hyundai Elevators, Hyundai Heavy Industries, LG semiconductors, or any of the former divisions that have since been split off into different companies.
  • Hyundai Motor was named the world’s 35th most valuable brand for the second year in a row with its global brand value $17.3 billion CDN, up 5.1% year-on-year. Since 2005 when it was ranked as world 84th brand, Hyundai has seen a four-fold increase in brand value.
  • Hyundai Steel is a member of the Hyundai Motor Group, making Hyundai the only automaker with its own steel-producing capabilities. The company has taken good advantage of this resource, becoming a leader in the development and integration of advanced High Strength Steel (not just a marketing buzzword, but an actual formulation of steel known in the industry as Twinning-Induced Plasticity Steels or TWIP), in order to achieve stringent safety regulations without adding unnecessary weight.
  • Hyundai’s Advanced High Strength Steel is the core of the Superstructure utilized in many Hyundai cars and Sport Utility Vehicles. To demonstrate its strength, Hyundai Canada stacked seven complete Elantra models on top of a single, bare 397 kg Elantra Superstructure, a combined weight of over 12,200 kg without any damage, buckling, or denting of the Superstructure.
  • Some Canadians still think of Hyundai as an economy car. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the luxurious, world-class Genesis sedan to the rugged, spacious Santa Fe XL SUV, Hyundai offers models that align with virtually every other automaker. And boring they’re not. The 380 horsepower Hyundai i20 WRC, based on the i20 (Veloster in Canada), as prepared by Hyundai Motorsports took four wins in the World Rally Championship last year and has three wins under its belt so far in 2018, winning on tarmac, gravel, and snow-covered surfaces.

So whether you’d like to come in to practice your pronunciation of Hyundai, or you’d like to examine and test drive our range of compacts to full-size sedans, small to midsize SUVs, or Hybrid or Electric vehicles, feel free to stop by Rexdale Hyundai in Toronto.