Understanding Foreign Brands – What’s the meaning of “KIA”?


Understanding Foreign Brands – What’s the meaning of “KIA”?

When you hear the word KIA, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It is IKEA (the Swedish furniture company)? Is it tennis? Super Bowl commercials? What about affordable cars with good quality? Or the image of an Asian automotive company? Or even perhaps the name Peter Schreyer — the world famous car designer? For all practical reasons, the answer could be all of above.

But now, what’s the meaning of KIA in the first place? Is it an abbreviation of the Korean Industry Association? Or does it mean, something else, like the “Korean Inventors of Asia”? Well, before we get to the answer and if you care to know, we’ll need to investigate and decipher its original meaning by taking into account the following three-step language layer(s) which involve English, Korean and Chinese characters.


Now, if we take a closer look at the above, the name KIA is derived from the Korean pronunciation of two Chinese characters — (1) “起” and (2) “亚” — which have the following meaning(s).

  • “起” can take on several meanings, but in this context (a Korean’s context), it typically means to “awake” as in 起床 (get-up out of bed, or to wake-up) or “rise-up (stand)” as in the word 起立拍手 (기립박수 – a standing ovation).
  • “亚 (亞)” is easier because it phonetically represents the first syllable in Asia (亞細亞).

Thus, if we combine (1) and (2) together, a new meaning appears which means “Rise (or rising) in Asia” which also conveys a secondary meaning which is “Visible in Asia” because if you stand-up, you also become visible at the same time. Well, there you have it. Now you know — this is the meaning of KIA.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Note: According to the English version of Wikipedia, it is mentioned that “ki” in KIA stands for “to come out”. However, in reality (the use of Chinese characters), “ki” (起) represents more than just one meaning. For instance, if one uses Google Translate, “ki” gives out the following eight definitions (i) start or begin, (ii) build, (iii) extract or pull, (iv) get-up or rise, (v) grow or raise, (vi) set-up, (vii) unship and finally (viii) work out. The Korean language has adopted and applied this Chinese character — “ki” (起) — to usually (99.9% of the time) mean only (iv) get-up or rise, and not the other seven meanings in the dictionary. Thus, a person from China who doesn’t have any knowledge over how Chinese characters are used within the Korean language may give you a different answer to the meaning of KIA. If you have a different interpretation, please feel more than welcome to leave a comment (provide insight) in our discussion box below.

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Proudly powered by WordPress