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Lesson Transcript

Tim: Hello everyone, Tim here! I am joined in the studio by…
Debbie: Hello everyone, Debbie here. Basic Korean Pronunciation. So Tim, what are we going to tackle today?
Tim: Today we are going to talk about basic Korean pronunciation.
Debbie: Pronunciation is very important for learning any language! So Tim... how IS Korean pronunciation? Is it easy to pronounce Korean?
Tim: Well, there are a number of rules for Korean pronunciation; some are very easy, some are not. We'll go over those in this lesson.
Debbie: So we can see for ourselves.
Tim: Right. And, just like English, the Korean alphabet has consonants and vowels – 14 consonants and 10 vowels.
Debbie: That’s only 24 basic characters in total! 휴~~ That’s a relief!
Tim: 하하 Although these basic syllables can form more compound consonants and vowels, all you need to know is only those 24 basic syllables.
Debbie: Wow…That sounds “really” easy! Listeners, here we’re not going to go over the pronunciation of all the consonants and vowels with details, but if you are interested, you can listen to our pronunciation series designed to help you master the Korean pronunciation. In this lesson, we’re going to discuss some of the interesting aspects of pronunciation.
Tim: Okay, first, in Korean, no consonant can stand alone to make a sound.
Debbie: Hmm… what do you mean by that?
Tim: Basically, you always need a vowel after a Korean consonant.
Debbie: So what you’re saying is that Korean people always add a vowel to complete the syllable so that they can pronounce it, right? Tim, can you give us examples?
Tim: Let's take the sound ""s"". In Korean, this sound is called ㅅ. In English, you can pronounce “s” on its own.
Debbie: Hmm… So I guess that in Korean, “ㅅ” cannot be pronounced on its own?
Tim: 딩동댕! Yes, that's right.
Debbie: So…in order to pronounce “ㅅ” (시옷), we need to add a vowel after it. It can't just stand alone.
Tim: Yes! For example, if we want to pronounce the English word ""sky"" in Korean...
Debbie: We need a vowel after the ""s""?
Tim: Right. So we add the vowel (ㅡ, eu), and it becomes “스” (seu). So ""sky"" would sound something like 스카이 “sky”.
Debbie: Oh… that makes sense. This explains one of reasons as to why Korean people pronounce English words differently.
Tim: Yes!
Debbie: Okay. What’s next?
Tim: Number 2, “double consonants”.
Debbie: “Double consonants?” What do you mean by that?
Tim: Out of the 14 basic consonants, 5 of them can form “double consonants”.
Debbie: Like…??
Tim: For example, we have the Korean consonantㄱ. The sound it makes is like [ g or k ] in English.
Debbie: And this sound can become double?
Tim: Yes. Let me show you an example. First, remember how we need a vowel after a consonant to make a sound? For this example, let’s go with the vowel “eu”. So we make the sound그.
Debbie: So, the consonant in this sound can be doubled… what would it sound like?
Tim: When doubled, it sounds like끄
Debbie: Let’s hear them side by side.
Tim: Okay. Single consonant- 그, Double consonant – 끄
Debbie: Wow! I can hear the difference!
Tim: Like I said, there are 5 consonants that can be doubled.
Debbie: Let’s let the listeners hear the rest, just for fun.
Tim: Sure. Here are the consonant sounds with the vowel “eu”
Debbie: And their doubled versions?
Tim: 끄, 뜨, 쁘, 쓰, 쯔
Debbie: I can hear it! They sound a lot stronger.
Tim: So just know that we have these double consonant sounds in Korean.
Debbie: Okay, and next?
Tim: Number 3, “Aspirated consonants!”
Debbie: “Aspirated Consonants!?”‘Aspirated’ means when you say words or letters, there is a strong burst of air, right Tim?
Tim: Yes, but no worries, Debbie! They're not hard for English speakers to pronounce. They are ㅋ [ k ], which is an aspirated version of ㄱ [ g ], and ㅌ [ t ], aspirated version of ㄷ [ d ], and ㅍ [ p ], aspirated version of ㅂ [ b ], and ㅊ [ ch ], aspirated version of ㅈ [ j/z ].
Debbie: Okay, are there any others?
Tim: Last one, #4 – the sound of “ㄹ”
Debbie: It the sound of “r”?
Tim: Kind of...
Debbie: It the sound of “l”?
Tim: Kind of...
Debbie: Then... how do I pronounce it correctly?!
Tim: Well… I bring my tongue forward “al~~most” like I am going to make an “l” sound.
Debbie: Touching the front part of the roof of my mouth?
Tim: Yes! But make sure not to touch your teeth or bring my tongue too far forward.
Debbie: Okay… (ㄹㄹㄹㄹㄹ) and then?
Tim: And then say the word, 라면 “noodle” again and again…
Debbie: Until?
Tim: It sounds right!
Debbie: 라면, 라면, 라면....
Tim: Okay, that’s enough! You're making me feel hungry! Do you have any other tips for listeners?
Debbie: Hmm… the shape of “ㄹ” itself is supposed to represent the tongue-curling.
Tim: Yap! I think it sounds less strong….And “curly” than the English “l” when it’s at the end of a syllable.
Debbie: Good point! The English pronunciation of [ r ] doesn’t exist in Korean and the Korean ㄹ is more like the Spanish [ r ] when it’s at the beginning of a syllable.
Debbie: So again, it’s important not to think of each Korean letter as a perfect translation of a letter in English.
Tim: Yes, I agree. To master Korean pronunciation, you must realize that Korean has its own set of rules.
Debbie: I am confident that our listeners can speak quite fluently with practice and dedication.
Tim: Okay, that’s all for today’s lesson. 여러분, 다음 시간에 만나요.
Debbie: Thanks for listening. See you again!