Several posts back I introduced the way I find it easiest to learn and pronounce some Korean letters. In two separate posts I introduced Some basic Korean consonants and vowels. Today, I would like to add 5 more consonants (the last five) to the list! Hopefully, they will not be difficult at all so we can learn them quickly!
!!!!FYI: Most of the example words I will use in this one are not necessarily REAL Korean words and are not really menat to be. I am simply building syllables as a demonstration of how to make the sounds. I don’t consider this post advanced enough to make words so, I picked letters at random and combined them together. If they are real words, they aren’t supposed to be. And if they aren’t, well, that was the point. Ok… Here we go!
If you look closely at this one, it should look familiar. Do you remember the letter ㄱ ? Well, this one is similar – very similar in fact.
At the beginning of a word: When this consonant is used at the beginning of a word, it will make a sound very close to ‘g’. However, this is a guttural type sound and usually should be emphasized well. I know this may not be the very best explanation, but lucky I have an idea to help you pronounce the letters this time. I will provide a syllable that includes these consonants in it. All you have to do is copy/paste it into Google translate and then listen to the voice say the syllable for you by pressing the audio button! This can help. 꼼
At the beginning of a syllable, NOT the word: This one will take the form of a gutteral ‘k’ sound. Be careful not to aspirate the sound. Just make it very defined and you should be alright! Here’s the practice syllables to show you what I mean. 남꼼
If this appears at the end of the syllable, it will make a ‘k’ sound. Not too difficult right?
Another double consonant? Yes. This one is, again, similar to another consonant we previously reviewed: ㄷ .
At the beginning of a word: This one will take a sound very similar to that of our English ‘d’. The sounds of these consonants, although closely related to their single consonant counterparts, MUST be distinguished when pronouncing them. If you pronounce a ㄸ like a ㄷ then it could change the entire meaning of the word! “That’s a little drastic!” you may say. Well think of it this way. Two words. Road and Load. They mean two completely different things. Well, A person learning English from Korea may have a very VERY difficult time making any kind of distinction between the two. They do not possess a letter that makes a DEFINITE ‘l’ or ‘r’ sound. The ㄹ consonant makes a sound somewhere in between. So, imagine if they are having a conversation about a ‘Load’ when the whole time they were trying to talk about a ‘Road’. Anyway, here is the syllable for you to check out. 똔
At the beginning of a syllable NOT a word: This one will take the form of a well-defined ‘t’. To be very honest, I find it difficult to distinguish this one. Sometimes it sounds like a strong ‘t’ and other times its more like a weak ‘d’. In this case, practice and listening to a native Korean is the only way to master these. Make sure not to aspirate and you’re good to go! 아뚠
If this one appears at the end of a syllable, it will make a ‘t’ sound. Ok, moving on!
By now, you should be seeing a pattern. Yes, all five of these new letters are double versions of letters previously covered. This one may be a little difficult to see a difference. The ㅅ and the ㅆ (at least to me) sound extremely similar. When pronouncing this one, just make sure that you define the ‘s’ very well and keep a stiff tongue. Try comparing these two syllables in the translate engine to see if you can here a difference.
When this letter is used at the end of a syllable (and it is… often), then it will TYPICALLY make a ‘t’ sound. However, this syllable is notorious for being followed by a ㅇ consonant. Do you remember the rule for a syllable starting with a ㅇ? If a syllable that is not at the beginning of a word starts with ㅇ and the previous syllable ended with a consonant, then the (beginning) sound of that previous consonant will take the place of the null sound from ㅇ. For example! 있어요. If you break down the syllables each by themselves, then you would pronounce this as “it (eet)” + “eo” + “yo”. However, look at the end of the first syllable. You see that ㅆ consonant right? What letter IMMEDIATELY follows it? Yep! The ㅇ ! So, according to the rule, the ㅆ sound has to replace the ㅇ right? So the syllable would be pronounced more like this: 이써요 ~ 이서요. I (EE) + Seo + Yo = Iseoyo.
Do me and you a favor and take this syllable 있, put it into the translator and listen to how it sounds. Now, take this word and listen to it 있어요. See how it changes?
Double consonant number 4! Ready, Set, Go!
At the beginning of a word: This one will make a sound which some people says is a strong ‘p’ but I believe makes a sound closer to a ‘b’. It does not get any aspiration so don’t blow a lot of air out when you pronounce this one.
At the beginning of a syllable and NOT a word: This one takes a form closer to a strong ‘p’. Here are two examples to see if you can tell the difference of the sound it makes based on its location in a word. 빠 오빠
FYI. You will find differing opinions on how some of these letters are pronounced depending on who you talk to. The thing is, just like in English, there are NUMEROUS exceptions to the rules presented. My goal here is to start you off into your learning experience and give you some tools you will need to get started on your Korean language learning quest!
The fifth and final double consonant is here! This one stumped me for a little while but the rules I will give you are what work best for me. At least, when I first began.
When used at the beginning of the word: The most common sound I have noticed when pronouncing this one in this location was the ‘j’ sound. 짝 <— Put this syllable in the translation engine and see what you hear.
When it is used at the beginning of a syllable but NOT a word: At first, I found that the letter’s sound changes slightly to make more of a strong ‘ch’ sound when used in this location. However, the sound this letter makes both at the beginning of a word and at the beginning of a syllable are very VERY similar.
In all of these double consonants, try to think of them as stronger, more defined versions of their single consonant counterparts. Again, practice makes perfect. Listening to native speakers also helps tremendously.
FYI, a translate engine can only help so much and I offer it as a way to hear words spoken. However, they should ONLY be used as a last resort. Because I have not paid to make this website my own, I am unable to post any recordings of these letters being pronounced. Referring you to a third party is my only option for now…. sadly.
I hope this was informative and helped you learn something new. I am always looking to better my understanding and if you have any knowledge that can prove helpful, PLEASE share it! Also, if I come up with a better way to explain this information, I will update these posts and let you all know!
Thanks so much. Until next time!