8 In Korean learning journey (:/ Korean Lessons

발음 규칙 – it’s not as easy as it seems…

sometimes I get a little annoyed when people claim that they can pronounce all Korean words easily once they learn Hangul. It’s a mistaken view that Korean has a transparent spelling system, unlike English. There are alot of rules and regulations when it comes to pronunciation. Some are learned easily as they apply to all words, but some are only applied to certain 한자 characters and there are exceptions here and there.

Almost 3 years into learning Korean, I still feel that I’m inadequate in many aspects and I’m gradually refining my pronunciation. Thought I’ll share the stuff that I’ve learned on this blog ^^ It helps me consolidate what I’ve learnt (since I’m reading the original text in Korean) and I hope it’s helpful to others too.

When 한자 starts with ‘녀, 뇨, 뉴, 니’, it will be written and pronounced as ‘여,요,유,이’

예) 여자 (女子)

In non-initial positions, it is written and pronounced as 녀,뇨,뉴,니

예) 남녀

However, in cases of a bound noun, 냐 and 녀 can be written and pronounced in this way

예) 년 – 삼년 (三年)

In the case where another 한자 acts like a prefix to form a complex noun, the hanja behind which starts with the above sounds will be written as 여,요,유,이 even though it is pronounced as if the ㄴ is there. (okay, i know it sounds confusing)

예) 신여성( 新女性 ) [신녀성]

In the case where a native noun is added in front, it follows the same principle as the rule right above.

예) 한국여자대학 ( 女子大學) [한궁녀자대학]

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll try to post up more next time! ^^

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  • Reply
    15 December, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Whoever said that should be smacked!
    After over 10 years I still can’t pronounce 여, 요 , 어, 오 properly much less what you’ve mentioned up there!

    • Reply
      15 December, 2010 at 11:00 PM

      haha yup they can be tough to differentiate. 여 and 어 are pronounced with your mouth opened bigger ^^

  • Reply
    16 December, 2010 at 2:08 AM

    First of all, thanks for this useful post.. It would be great if you could provide more rules in future..
    As far as the confusion in the pronunciation of some Korean vowels is concerned, it also depends on the native language of the speaker…. For example, in my mother tongue Hindi we have separate vowel sounds and letters for 여, 요 , 어 and 오.. So Indian learners find it a bit easier to pronounce these characters correctly…

    • Reply
      18 December, 2010 at 8:53 PM

      Hi! I’m glad you are back with a new blog 😀 I’ll write more about it soon~

  • Reply
    Du hoc Singapore
    16 December, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Nice blog!I like your writing way. I love Singapore. I hope i can study Information Technology here in next year.

  • Reply
    17 December, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Hi, this is very useful. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply
    18 December, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    I’m bored and I’ve got class in half an hour. Boo.

    Came across this live perf of JYJ on Billboard.


    • Reply
      18 December, 2010 at 8:52 PM

      hahaha! i finished 2 exams today! >,<

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