5 In Korean learning journey (:/ Korean sounds/pronunciation/ korean studying tools

Sounds of Korean: Where exceptions exceed regularities Part 1

Did a ‘revamp’ of the Korean language resources page. Hopefully it will be neater and accessible ^^

3.5 years of learning Korean, and I still don’t have the confidence that I can pronounce everything correctly. There’s so many sound changes, some regular and some irregular and things are not as simple as they seem. That’s why I get annoyed when I hear people boast and claim that Korean is so easy to pronounce and ‘I can read everything within a few lessons, just that I don’t understand what I’m reading’.

For those who are interested in a more in depth coverage of Korean sound changes and rules, check out this link. It’s written entirely in Korean though. ^^ I’ll try to talk about some of the more interesting points here.

Long sounds

There’s no rules stating which words are pronounced with a long sound but when they do, they are only pronounced with the long vowel when they are the first character in a word.
예) 눈보라 [눈:보라] ; 첫눈 [천눈]

However, for compound words, it is possible that the long sound remains in the first character of the 2nd word.
예) 반신반의 [반:신 바:니] – to be suspicious

When a stem is followed by a particle starting with ‘아/어’ and then compressed, it is pronounced with a long sound.
예) 보아 –> 봐 [봐:]     하여 –> 해 [해:]

This is even so even though the original root word does not have a long sound 보다 [보다].

However, that does not mean that it applies to all such words.
예) 오아 –> 와 [와]

Even for words with long sounds, there are certain situations where they are pronounced with a short vowel

1. When the stem is followed by a particle that starts with a vowel
예) 감다 [감:따] – 감으니 [가므니]     신다 [신:따] – 신어 [시너]

However, there are certain exceptions
예) 없다 [업:따] – 없으니 [업:쓰니]    
2. Long sounds are not manifested in the passive form of the verb
예) 감다 [감:따] – 감기다 [감기다]
, there are some exceptions
예) 벌리다 [벌:리다]

How many however-s have I typed in this post so far?? O.o

NOTE: all the examples are taken from the site linked above. However, I only pick one or two examples to illustrate the point. For more examples, please refer to the site.

I recommend printing out everything unless you want to kill your eyes (:

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  • Reply
    19 May, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    thanks for sharing! i could make a paper about this – but that won’t be until i get to understand it completely. ^^

  • Reply
    19 May, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Because some pples say they can read Korean after taking a few lessons? lol That don’t have any sence (like saying they can pilot an helicopter withing a couple of hours. lol

    This is impossible to learn the Korean pronounciation within a short time of learning aspecially because it just only depend on how a word is wrote, anybody just trying reading the 자모 instead of the 한글 has wrong.

    So a lot of words change there pronounciation depending on what is behind or in front of it in the sentence (like , 인터넷, 인터넷으로, 인터넷이, Only one word but THREE different pronounciation) or (이거 못 해요, 이거 못 써요, 이거 못 잊어… I think I can find much more variation of the 못 pronounciation lol).

    And not only that but some pronounciations are almost unic to the Korean language and extremely tricky to pronounce (ㅁ from 물, ㄴ from 나가다, 의 from 의자 (who never got crazy when he encounter this 의 sound that is almost never pronounced the same way depending on the word and just incredibly hard to recognize in a natural speed sentence lolol).

    • Reply
      20 May, 2011 at 4:49 PM

      hahaha yeah it doesnt make sense, but i’ve come across MANY people who says that. even random people on the bus.

      • Reply
        20 May, 2011 at 5:15 PM

        I think you’re right when you say this is a way for them to boast themselves but they don’t understand that, admiting that a foreigner language is complicate to speak/pronounce/learn is a proof of skills (proof you know what you’re talking about).

      • Reply
        20 May, 2011 at 5:22 PM

        that, i totally agree with (:

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