I go to a school that is about 35% international, and the majority of these students are Asian, and about a third of those are Korean.
I realize that I might be making a mountain out of what a Korean would consider a molehill, but I’m still confused.
Of the students at school, we have:
Soo young (also Soo Young, I think)
Surlyang (which sounds like Sooyoung, to me)
Possibly there areothers; I only listed those that I could definitely remember how to spell.
In addition, Soo young especially seems to be a very common name. This is a really small school, by the way–in addition to being sort of compartmentalized, there are only 800 or so to start out with. So this is a significant percentage, rather than a small group out of a college with 30,000 students.
As far as I can determine, these are actually all different names, rather than different transliterations of the same name. Soo-hyun gets rather annoyed if you call her Sooyoung.
The actual question:
Are all of these names etymologically related somehow? Is there some kind of root word that produced all these names, or do they just all happen to be similar?
Yes, they are all different names. If I remember correctly, most Korean names are taken from Chinese characters (and many, if not all, actually mean something in Chinese… ask them, and they’ll probably be able to tell you).
The difficulty that you are having stems from the fact that the Korean language contains sounds that are not natural to a native English speaker’s ear. To a Korean, “Soo-Hyun” and “Soo-Young” are very different sounds, though to an English speaker they may sound very similar. Also, the way in which Koreans choose to spell their names in English may seem rather random to English speakers… my wife’s name is “Hyun-Jeong”, which she chooses to spell as “Hyun-Jung”. Also, the family name “Ee” is quite common in Korea, and is usually spelled as “Lee” or sometimes “Yee” in English. The family name “No” is also quite common, and can be spelled in English as “No”, “Noh”, “Ro”, “Roh”, or even “Lo” or “Loh”! Confusion can result, obviously!
The "Young"s that you refer to may mean “dragon” in Chinese, but one cannot tell unless you can actually see the Chinese character that it refers to… Koreans use their own pronunciation of Chinese, and several common Chinese words may have the same sound in Korean (when I was in Korea, I was given the name “Kwan-Young” which literally means “Bright Dragon”).
Thanks, that makes sense. Apparently my post left out the thing that caught my attention originally: all of the names I listed are girls’ names. I can’t think of any Korean guys whose names are similar to those I posted. Just chance, I guess?