The Korean writing system was deliberately crafted to be easy, simple to be taught and to exactly seize the sounds of spoken Korean.
It follows a sublime course of: structuring small geometric letters into full syllables.
On account of its simplicity and logic, I’ll be capable of educate you the Korean syllable construction in a fast, three-step information (even in the event you’re ranging from zero).
1. The Construction of Korean Syllables
Consider Korean syllables as constructing blocks or bricks.
Every brick matches a minimal of two and a most of 4 Hangul letters. The letter mixtures will embody each consonants and vowels—you may’t make a syllable with out the 2.
The components that have an effect on Korean syllable construction
The constructions of Korean syllables are affected by the letters they contain. Whichever Hangul letters are wanted, leads to the written construction of the syllable altering.
When written, Korean syllables ought to match neatly inside an oblong or sq. define—a pleasant and easy form. However what really goes inside that sq.?
The variety of letters is one issue. Two-letter syllables take up kinds completely different from three or four-letter syllables.
Listed below are just a few examples:
- Two-letter syllable: 자
- Three-letter syllable: 남, 받
- 4-letter syllable: 앉, 닭
As you may see, the extra letters contained throughout the sq., the tighter the syllable block turns into to be able to uniformly match every letter. However the boundary continues to be obeyed.
In Hangul, double consonants (ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, and ㅉ) exist, in addition to vowel mixtures that work as one. Each double consonants and double-vowel combos rely as single letters.
Dependent upon which vowels are used is the second issue that impacts the construction of syllables.
Vowels are both vertical or horizontal in form.
The vertical vowels allow syllables to be written from left to proper to the underside. Basically, a syllable is written in a clockwise style. The vowels are positioned adjoining to the consonant.
Horizontal vowels allow syllables to be written from top-to-bottom. They’re positioned beneath the consonants.
The vowels ㅘ, ㅙ, ㅚ, ㅟ, ㅝ, ㅞ, and ㅢ are “combos” that include each vertical and horizontal vowels— leading to every wrapping round a consonant in order that it sits above the primary vowel making up the combo.
Collectively, each consonants and vowels take up the highest house of a syllable block. The remainder of the letters within the syllable occupy the underside house.
Listed below are just a few examples of how the vowel can have an effect on the syllable construction:
- Vertical vowel syllables: 네, 멍, 닭
- Horizontal vowel syllables: 교, 들, 부
- Vowel combo syllables: 회, 쥐, 웨
These are the first components that can resolve how a syllable seems. The visible part to it will make rather more sense the longer you converse, learn, and write Korean textual content.
2. The Order of Korean Syllable Letters
Let’s speak about some further guidelines relating to the order of Korean syllable letters.
The positions of consonants and vowels in Korean syllables
Consonants and vowels belong in very particular positions inside a syllable.
- The primary letter is at all times a consonant (could be known as the preliminary consonant).
- The second letter is at all times a vowel (which could be adjoining to, beneath, or wrapped across the first letter).
- The third letter is at all times a consonant (which will likely be beneath each the primary and second letters).
- The fourth letter is at all times a consonant (which will likely be adjoining to the third letter).
The third and fourth letters of a syllable occupy the “backside bunk” of a syllable. This place really has a particular identify: 받침 (bat-chim), which accurately and fittingly means “help.”
This order additionally applies to how it’s best to progress in really writing the syllable.
The second letter is at all times a vowel and could be written to the precise of, beneath or wrapped across the first letter consonant.
- 우 = preliminary consonant ㅇ + vowel ㅜ
- 웨 = preliminary consonant ㅇ + vowel ㅞ
- 겨 = preliminary consonant ㄱ + vowel ㅕ
- 따 = preliminary consonant ㄸ + vowel ㅏ
The third letter is at all times a consonant and is written beneath the preliminary consonant and the second letter vowel.
- 순 = preliminary consonant ㅅ + vowel ㅜ + consonant ㄴ
- 획 = preliminary consonant ㅎ + vowel ㅚ + consonant ㄱ
- 빵 = preliminary consonant ㅃ + vowel ㅏ + consonant ㅇ
The fourth letter is at all times a consonant and will likely be proper subsequent to the third letter. Collectively, they kind the syllable’s 받침.
- 삶 = preliminary consonant ㅅ + vowelㅏ + consonant ㄹ + consonant ㅁ
- 찮 = preliminary consonant ㅊ + vowelㅏ + consonant ㄴ + consonant ㅎ
- 값 = preliminary consonantㄱ + vowelㅏ + consonant ㅂ + consonant ㅅ
Right here’s a nifty graphic to point out you the way it all works:
3. The Pronunciation of Korean Syllables
Up to now, I’ve targeted totally on the written side of syllables. However what about really announcing them?
Korean pronunciation is fairly matter-of-fact. When you grow to be acquainted with correctly enunciating Korean sounds, you then’ll quickly grasp announcing full Korean phrases.
For this information, I’m specializing in Korean syllable pronunciation that you just’ll use extra regularly as a newbie learner—based mostly on 받침—the one or two backside consonants of a syllable.
As a result of the Korean language is syllable-timed, not stress-timed, there’s sometimes no further emphasis given to any particular syllable whilst you’re talking.
That being stated, there are only a few little quirks about syllable pronunciation which can be worthwhile to say. They’re particularly essential to notice if you wish to sound like a local speaker.
The particular pronunciation of sure 받침
Now, the 받침 can typically be a bit finicky in its pronunciation. Typically, you may’t actually belief a syllable’s 받침 once you solely hear the syllable and don’t see it in written kind.
When a syllable’s 받침 is ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, or ㅊ then these letters tackle the ㄷ sound.
Right here’s this rule in motion:
- 꽃 is pronounced 꼳 (kkot)
- 있 is pronounced 읻 (eet)
- 맛 is pronounced 맏 (maht)
- 낮 is pronounced 낟 (naht)
There’s additionally one other pronunciation rule relating to four-letter syllables and 받침.
A four-letter syllable has two consonants working double-time because the 받침. Nevertheless, one thing fascinating occurs to one of many backside consonants.
When spoken by itself, a four-letter syllable can typically grow to be silent with one among its 받침 consonants.
So, within the following examples:
- 없 isn’t pronounced as ups, however as a substitute, 업 (up)
- 닭 isn’t pronounced as dalk, however as a substitute, 닥 (dak)
- 읷 isn’t pronounced as iks, however as a substitute, 익 (ik)
Usually, it’s normally the second of the 받침 consonants that’s silent. However there are particular circumstances through which the primary consonant is silent as a substitute.
So, you marvel, what’s the purpose of that consonant that’s primarily shedding its voice?
Don’t fear, it makes its look following a syllable that begins with the silent consonant ㅇ.
The impact of 받침 when adopted by a silent consonant syllable
The silent consonant ㅇ is definitely thought of extra of a “placeholder” consonant. It doesn’t contribute its personal sound. A syllable that has ㅇ as its preliminary consonant, takes on the sound of the next vowel.
However the guidelines dictate a consonant should be the primary letter in a syllable.
When a syllable is adopted by a syllable beginning with ㅇ, then the primary syllable’s 받침 shifts its sound to that second syllable.
That’s proper. One syllable’s 받침 can successfully manipulate its personal sound onto the next silent consonant syllable. On this occasion, you’ll need to pay extra consideration to your pronunciation.
As well as, the silent consonant in four-letter syllables may make its return.
Right here’s this rule in motion:
- 없어 is pronounced 업서 (up-suh)
- 닭은 is pronounced 달근 (dal-gun)
- 삶아 is pronounced 살마 (sal-ma)
You’ll discover the syllables roll off the tongue rather more naturally with this rule.
The impact of 받침 adjoining to different consonant syllables
Prepared for a mind-bending, tongue tornado?
If one syllable has a consonant as 받침, and the following syllable begins with a consonant sound excluding the silent consonant, then the second consonant can have an exaggerated pronunciation.
Nonetheless with me?
That’s proper. 받침 as soon as once more makes its look, even when adopted by consonants apart from ㅇ.
That is most notable if a syllable’s 받침 is identical consonant because the preliminary consonant of the next syllable. Consider it as a “layering” impact.
It’s additionally fairly noticeable when the consonants ㄱ, ㄷ or ㅂ are concerned.
- 맞다 is pronounced extra like 맞따 (mat-dda). Bear in mind, the ㅈ in 받침 place takes the ㄷ sound.
- 책상 is pronounced extra like 책쌍 (check-ssang).
And as I discussed earlier, there are numerous extra tips for consonant-consonant interactions.
As an example, if a syllable has ㄹ as its 받침, and it’s adopted by a syllable that begins with consonant ㄴ, then that second syllable swaps the ㄴ sound for the ㄹ sound.
You’ll usually hear 잘나 pronounced as 잘라 (jal-lah) by Korean natives.
Why? As a result of it makes for simpler phonetics however can create extra head-scratching for newbie learners.
In order that’s the gist of Korean syllables!
The knowledge may appear a bit overwhelming now, however I assure that you just’ll rapidly get accustomed to all the pieces with sufficient follow. And to construct that confidence and ability, you may at all times verify your Korean grammar that can assist you grasp the Korean syllable construction extra simply.
Have enjoyable developing these little language constructing blocks. Quickly sufficient, you’ll be capable of kind full-on Korean sentences and phrases, and actually get speaking!