Let’s learn how to read and pronounce Korean alphabet Hangul!
CONSONANTS & VOWELS
All right guys! Let’s start with the basics. Korean Alphabet system, Hangul has 14 consonants and 10 vowels (with additional 5 tense consonants and 11 double vowels).
Pay attention to the ones in gray. By the look of it, they look like they have 2 of the same base consonants (i.e., “ㄲ” has two “ㄱ”s, and “ㄸ” has two “ㄷ”s, and so on). There are five of those, and they are called called tense consonants, which are pronounced with a harder, stiffer sound.
So having two of the same makes it stronger, right? Hence the name tense consonants. If you’re a Spanish speaker, you might have noticed that these sounds are similar to how C / T / P are pounced in Spanish. That is, ㄲ sounds similar to “c” of “Corea”, and ㄸ sounds similar to “t” of “tiburon”, and ㅃ sounds similar to “p” of “pollo”.
Okay, so let’s begin by playing the audio track below.
Good job! Let’s learn the vowels now. Play the audio clip below.
And the ones in gray are called “diphthongs“, or complex/double vowels. They are made up of two vowels to create one sound.
Keep in mind that there are no English/roman letters that perfectly describe the sounds, but if we keep listening to the audio files and practice, you will start hearing the differences!
One thing you might have noticed is howㅒ/ㅖ practically sound the same and ㅚ/ㅙ/ㅞ the same! It might look like a waste of ink, but their meanings differ when written. Until the late 20th century, people used to distinguish the minute differences coming from the tongue and mouth position, but the differences are seldom observed nowadays, and most Koreans can’t tell one from another. But they do mean different things when written.
Now, pay close attention to the vowel ㅡ, which is transcribed using the phonetic symbol ŭ. Although we used the word ‘good’ as an example, it’s doesn’t fully replicate
the sound. This is one vowel many English speakers have trouble with, most likely because there’s no way to transcribe it using English alphabet. But once you hear it, you know what it is, so it’s just a matter of getting used to.
No problem! If you keep practicing, you will be able to say it like a native Korean! 으 – 으 – 으! Good! You’re getting the hang of it!
All right, guys! That’s all for Korean CONSONANTS & VOWELS! Keep coming back to this page until you fully master them. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Let’s move on to learn the Korean Syllable Structure and Syllable Block Types
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