Are you ready to learn Korean?
Before starting to learn any new language it’s important to know the basics of that language. When you think of the basics, what comes first to your mind? That’s right! Alphabets or the Writing system of a language.
Today, we’re going to be looking at the writing system or the alphabets of the Korean language – 한글 (Hangul). To give a brief history about Hangul, it was created in the 15th Century by King Sejeong the Great. The word Hangul can be broken down like this – 한 (han) meaning “great”, and 글 (guel) meaning “script”. It can also mean “Korean script” as the word han is generally used to refer to Korea.
Now let’s start learning, shall we? The Korean language consists of 24 letters, including 14 consonants and 10 vowels. There are compound consonants and vowels as well. Let’s start with the consonants first –
The Korean consonants are divided into 2 types – Basic and Double consonants!
BASIC CONSONANTS – The basic consonants are as follows – ㄱ, ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅅ, ㅇ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ, ㄹ .
- ㄱ is pronounced as giyeok and has the sound of g/k – The sound of “g” is more prominent, as in the word Game.
- ㄴ is pronounced as nieun and has the sound of n – as in the word Notebook.
- ㅁ is pronounced as mieum and has the sound of m – as in the word Map.
- ㅅ is pronounced as siot and has the sound of s – as in the word Sun.
- ㅇ is pronounced as ieung but in particular doesn’t have a sound. If it’s placed in the beginning of the word, there won’t be any sound but if it’s placed at the end of the word, it has a ng sound to it – as in the words Hour or King.
- ㄷ is pronounced as digeut and has the sound of d – as in the word Dog.
- ㅂ is pronounced as bieup and has the sound of b – as in the word Ball.
- ㅈ is pronounced as jieut and has the sound of j – as in the word Jog.
- ㅊ is pronounced as chieut and has the sound of ch – as in the word Cheese.
- ㅋ is pronounced as kieuk and has the sound of k or kh – as in the word Kite.
- ㅌ is pronounced as tieut and has the sound of t – as in the word Tent.
- ㅍ is pronounced as pieup and has the sound of p – as in the word Park.
- ㅎ is pronounced as hieut and has the sound of h – as in the word House.
- ㄹ is pronounced as rieul and has the sound of r/l – as in the word Rat or Lemon.
DOUBLE CONSONANTS – Five of the basic consonants have a twin counterpart, also knows as 쌍 (Ssang) . You can simply put 쌍 before the basic consonant, and the pronunciation of these double consonants is done with more emphasis than the single consonant. The five double consonants are as follows – ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅉ,ㅃ, and ㅆ.
- ㄲ is pronounced as ssang kiyeok – tensed k/kk
- ㄸ is pronounced as ssang digeut – tensed t/tt
- ㅉ is pronounced as ssang jieut – tensed j/jj
- ㅃ is pronounced as ssang bieup – tensed p/ pp
- ㅆ is pronounced as ssang siot – tensed s/ss
The double consonants might be confusing at first but once you know the letters well, you will be able to master them in no time. They sound a bit rough or aggressive because they are so sharp.
So how was the first step in learning Korean? Confusing? Stressful? Don’t worry because it isn’t that difficult. In the next part, we’ll be looking at the vowels in Korean. Till then, Happy Learning!