Pronunciation of Korean Alphabet

In the last lesson we learnt the Syllable Structure of Korean Language. In other words, we learnt how we can combine individual Korean letters to construct syllable and words. In the same lesson, I told you that the pronunciation of Korean letters changes according to where they appear in the syllable or word. Any Korean letter can have a maximum of 3 possible pronunciations  (with a few exceptions) – 1) When in the beginning of a word, 2) When elsewhere in the word (except patchim), and  3) When as a Patchim (final consonant). The following pronunciation chart will help you learn the correct pronunciation of Korean words.

CONSONANTS

PRONUNCIATION

 

Beginning of the word

Elsewhere in the word (except Patchim)

 

As Patchim (final consonant) 

ख (kh)

ग़ (g)

क (k)

न (n)

न (n)

न (n)

थ (th)

द (d)

त (t)

र (r)

र (r)

ल (l)

म (m)

म (m)

म (m)

फ (ph/f)

ब (b)

प (p)

श/स (sh/s)

श/स (sh/s)

त (t)

No sound

न्ग/ङ (ng)

न्ग/ङ (ng)

छ (chh)

ज (j)

त (t)

छ/च्छ (chh)

छ/च्छ (chh)

त (t)

ख/क्ख (kh)

ख/क्ख (kh)

क (k)

थ/त्थ (th)

थ/त्थ (th)

त (t)

फ/प्फ (ph/f)

फ/प्फ (ph/f)

प (p)

ह (h)

ह (h)

त (t)

क (k)

क (k)

क (k)

त (t)

त (t)

त (t)

प (p)

प (p)

प (p)

स्स/स

स्स/स

त (t)

The Sounds in Patchim

There are 7 Possible Sounds that can come in patchim: ㄲ(क/k), ㄴ(न/n), ㄸ(त/t), ㄹ(ल/l), ㅁ(म/m), ㅃ(प/p)  and ㅇ(न्ग/ng)

Letter in Patchim Position       Pronunciation

ㄱ, ㅋ,ㄲ,                                      –         ㄲ(क/k)

ㄷ, ㅌ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅎ             –         ㄸ(त/t)

ㄴ                                                    –         ㄴ(न/n)

ㄹ                                                    –         ㄹ(ल/l)

ㅁ                                                   –         ㅁ(म/m)

ㅂ, ㅍ                                            –         ㅃ(प/p)

ㅇ                                                   –         ㅇ(न्ग/ng)

We also need to know the pronunciation of double consonants in Patchim position. We know that when a double consonant appears in Patchim position only one letter is pronounced and the other is silent. These sets of double consonants can come in patchim position- ㄳ, ㄶ, ㄻ, ㄽ, ㄿ, ㅄ, ㄵ, ㄺ, ㄼ, ㄾ, ㅀ (also ㄲ and ㅆ). Let’s see how we can pronounce these double consonants.

Letter in Patchim Position       Pronunciation

ㄳ, ㄺ, ㄲ                                       –         ㄲ(क/k)

ㅆ                                                     –         ㄸ(त/t)

ㄶ , ㄵ                                             –         ㄴ(न/n)

ㄽ, ㄾ, ㅀ                                       –         ㄹ(ल/l)

ㄻ                                                     –         ㅁ(म/m)

ㄿ, ㄼ                                              –         ㅃ(प/p)

Okay, Now you have mastered the Korean language alphabet Hangeul. Now you can read most of the Korean words and sentences with accurate pronunciation. You must be thinking.. still MOST? not ALL? Yes. not all, yet. But don’t get scared. Just think for a minute. Can you pronounce every single English word in the dictionary accurately. Most of us will have problem pronouncing some words that we have never encountered before. Even if English is our mother tongue. But if one has just learnt the alphabet of Hindi, one can pronounce almost any Hindi word, even if one is reading the word for the first time. Why is it so?

It’s because Hindi, as well as most other Indian languages, are phonetic. What it means is that letters and words are pronounced as they are written. What you see is what you get. There are no pronunciation rules or exceptions. You can look at a written word and know how to pronounce it. Or you can hear a word and know how to spell it. With phonetic languages like Hindi, there is a direct relationship between the spelling and the sound. On the other hand languages like English and Korean are not phonetic.  It means same characters can be pronounced differently in different words. For example, the words ‘but’ and ‘put’ have similar syllabic structure but they have totally different pronunciations. The good thing is that  Korean is much more phonetic than English. You have spent just a few days learning Korean now and you can pronounce a large number of Korean words correctly. With a few more pronunciation rules you will be able to read almost any Korean text with perfect accuracy. We will see those last, but not the least, pronunciation rules in the next lesson.

Now it’s time for a small test of what we have learnt. Match the English name of the countries below with the corresponding Korean names:

인디아,  이집트, 러시아, 파키스탄, 네팔, 이스라엘, 사우디 아라비아, 뉴질랜드, 이란, 우즈베키스탄, 캐나다.
Russia, Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Uzbekistan, Israel

 

About Satish

Satish is the founder of this website. He is a Korean language graduate from JNU, India. Presently He is studying Korean Language Education at Seoul National University, South Korea. You can catch him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or his Personal Blog

Comments

  1. I just learn korean as a hobby and I felt it would be so much more easier for me to learn the language if I could see the hindi representation of the korean letters. Thanks a lot for the table! It helps me pin down the pronunciation now.
    I too agree that all the resources available on the web (except for this one of course) cater to a western audience using English as an intermediate language for explanation. However, as you point out in your home page, English is not a phonetic language and has complex rules of pronunciation which vary with the person’s nationality and can not sufficiently represent all sounds possible. For example, ㄱ is said to have a ‘soft g’ sound, but when I hear and see the instructor actually making that sound, it sounds like ख ! Very confusing to an Indian student.
    Thank you for all the help!

  2. roshan chand says

    how do i perfect

  3. Do you have vowels in hindi pronunciation?

  4. Please do korean vowels in hindi

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