The Korean writing system was deliberately crafted to be easy, straightforward to study and to exactly seize the sounds of spoken Korean.
It follows a chic course of: structuring small geometric letters into full syllables.
Because of its simplicity and logic, I’ll be capable to educate you the Korean syllable construction in a fast, three-step information (even when 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 embrace each consonants and vowels—you possibly can’t make a syllable with out the 2.
The components that have an effect on Korean syllable construction
The buildings 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 truly goes inside that sq.?
The variety of letters is one issue. Two-letter syllables take up kinds totally different from three or four-letter syllables.
Listed here are a couple of examples:
- Two-letter syllable: 자
- Three-letter syllable: 남, 받
- 4-letter syllable: 앉, 닭
As you possibly can see, the extra letters contained inside the sq., the tighter the syllable block turns into with a view 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 depend 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 vogue. The vowels are positioned adjoining to the consonant.
Horizontal vowels allow syllables to be written from top-to-bottom. They’re positioned underneath 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 here are a couple of 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 determine how a syllable seems. The visible part to this can make far 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 concerning 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 (may be known as the preliminary consonant).
- The second letter is at all times a vowel (which may be adjoining to, underneath, or wrapped across the first letter).
- The third letter is at all times a consonant (which will likely be underneath 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 truly has a particular title: 받침 (bat-chim), which accurately and fittingly means “assist.”
This order additionally applies to how it is best to progress in truly writing the syllable.
The second letter is at all times a vowel and may be written to the fitting of, underneath 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 underneath 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 indicate you the way it all works:
3. The Pronunciation of Korean Syllables
To date, I’ve targeted totally on the written side of syllables. However what about truly announcing them?
Korean pronunciation is fairly matter-of-fact. When you develop into aware of 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 steadily as a newbie learner—primarily based 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 additional emphasis given to any particular syllable whilst you’re talking.
That being mentioned, there are only a few little quirks about syllable pronunciation which can be worthwhile to say. They’re particularly vital 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. Generally, you possibly can’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 concerning four-letter syllables and 받침.
A four-letter syllable has two consonants working double-time because the 받침. Nonetheless, one thing fascinating occurs to one of many backside consonants.
When spoken by itself, a four-letter syllable can typically develop into silent with one in every of its 받침 consonants.
So, within the following examples:
- 없 isn’t pronounced as ups, however as an alternative, 업 (up)
- 닭 isn’t pronounced as dalk, however as an alternative, 닥 (dak)
- 읷 isn’t pronounced as iks, however as an alternative, 익 (ik)
Usually, it’s often the second of the 받침 consonants that’s silent. However there are particular circumstances through which the primary consonant is silent as an alternative.
So, you surprise, what’s the purpose of that consonant that’s basically dropping 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-about 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 have to 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 also 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 far 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 subsequent 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 similar 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). Keep 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 various 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 data 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 talent, you possibly can at all times test your Korean grammar that will help you grasp the Korean syllable construction extra simply.
Have enjoyable setting up these little language constructing blocks. Quickly sufficient, you’ll be capable to kind full-on Korean sentences and phrases, and actually get speaking!