Well, you already know that Ginseng is an online English school. But as we talk to more and more people around the world about Ginseng, we’ve learned that more and more people want to know about the word ginseng:

  • What does it mean?
  • How do you pronounce it?
  • Why is it the name of an English school!?!?

Well, ask and you shall receive. Let's get some answers to those questions!

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is a plant! And it's a funny plant because the root—the underground part of the plant—is more famous than the flowers and leaves.

Ginseng has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to help people relax. Some people even say it improves your memory!

The word ginseng comes from the Hokkien pronunciation (/jîn-sim/)of the Chinese word (人参) for the plant. That literally translates to person-root, because the root often has two “legs” and looks like a person.

How do You Pronounce Ginseng?

First, that G is soft. This means it sounds like an English J, as in jump. G is often—but not always—pronounced this way when it is before either an E or an I.

The first syllable sounds exactly like the word gin, a common alcohol. It also sounds like the first syllable in ginger, another root.

The last syllable sounds exactly like the English word sing. The E is pronounced like a short I sound. (Note: some people pronounce the -seng with a short E sound, but that's not what we say for Ginseng English).

The stress in the word is on the first syllable. So all together, the word ginseng is pronounced jin-sing (IPA: /ˈdʒɪn sɪŋ/).

Why did you name the school Ginseng?

Lots of reasons! Many of the best brands out there are not literal descriptions of what the company does. Think about Google, Nike, Mercedes. This was the type of brand we wanted. We didn't want to be Rob’s Online English School. We wanted something more abstract and suggestive, something evocative.

Early logo for Engma English

Early logo for Engma English

The first idea was Engma, the name for this symbol: ŋ. After a while, we decided that this was a little too esoteric and just didn't work for our company.

Ginseng worked better for a couple of reasons:

We first started considering this name because of its sound. It’s one of the only other words in which the letters E-N-G are pronounced /ɪŋ/ like they are in Eng-lish

Also, ginseng has lots of positive connotations: it's relaxing and it helps your memory. These are two very important things for learning a language!

What about that logo?

Ginseng root is often made into a relaxing tea, so our logo is a steaming cup of tea to help you relax while you learn English with us! As you may have noticed, it’s also our letter G, upside-down!

More about Ginseng English

What is Ginseng?