Understanding Korean Characters

25 01 2010
People who are learning Korean (Hangul) for the first time might find it confusing to learn it as korean character pronounciation are not mapped exactly to english character pronounciation. Meaning Hangul does not have certain characters in their pronounciation. So accordingly:
  • G & K are pronounced the same in words like gimbap or kimbap (korean dish), kacchi kayo or gacchi gayo (meaning lets go together)
  • B & P are pronounced the same in words like nuraebang or nuraepang (koraoke room)
  • L & R are pronounced the same in words like laymeon or raymoen (Ramen noodles)
  • CH and J are pronounced the same (sometimes) in words like chuseyo or juseyo (I’d like to..)
  • And finally T & D are pronounced the same in words like dowa juseyo or towa juseyo(please help)
  • Certain characters are pronounced differently if they are followed by a vowel than a consotant.
  • The Korean character O is a null consonant. So if it appears in the beginning of any word then it is ignored in the pronounciation, whereas if it comes at the end of any word then it is pronounced as -ng.
Plus the sentence structure is different from Englidh. In Korean they have a subject followed by an object followed by a verb (SOV). So native english speakers might find it a bit challenging to learn Korean. But for Indians it is close to learning a language like hindi (devanagiri) as korean words are made up of vowels (matras like aa, ee, oo) and consonants like (ma, na, ka, ba, ta). Similarly koreans might find it difficult to pronounce certain words in English, so a literal translation of an English to Korean word might look like a typo but could actually be a limitation.
Just like any other language, there are a few rules which one needs to keep in mind while learning Korean and then you would be fine using it in your daily communication.
For me, reading the book – Teach Yourself Korean (by Vincent, Mark & Yeon, Jaehoon) has helped me a great deal in simplifying my Korean Language learning.



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