Halfway consonant sounds

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HD148478

Member
Spanish & Catalan
Hello,

As some of you adviced me to learn the Korean alphabet before anything else, I'm doing so.

I just want to comment something about certain consonant sounds.

When I face a new word like 알바니아 and I find sounds like ㅂ or ㄹ I have to take one path or the other, let me explain that:

ㅂ sounds as p or b.
ㄹ sounds as r or l.

I think for the most of us, p,b,r, and l are completely different things.

Going back to my word, 알바니아, now I know that is "Albania", but when I read it for the first time, what am I supposed to say ? I could perfectly go for "Arpania" as there are 2 sounds that are not very specific.

알바니아 Could be Albania, Arbania, Alpania, or Arpania...

Do you just choose one way and stick to that sound all the time...? or what am I supposed to do?

Thank you for your time.
 
  • Warp3

    Member
    US
    US English
    The sound ㅂ makes is between a "p" and "b" in English. In general, it leans more toward a "p" sound at the very beginning or very end of a word/phrase and more toward a "b" sound in the middle of a word/phrase (as the middle of a word/phrase is usually voiced in Korean which is what actually differentiates those two letters in English).

    In most positions, the ㄹ makes an "L" sound. However, if it is between two vowels or starts a loan word that starts with "R" in the original language, then it is more of a flicked (i.e. non-English) "R" sound instead (like the brief flicked "r" in the Spanish word "pero"). (NOTE: Many native speakers don't follow the "loan word starting with an R" rule, though, so expect to hear those pronounced both ways (or even with an English "R" sound starting the word, in some cases).)(NOTE: The ㄹ between vowels rule only applies to a single ㄹ. Two ㄹs in a row revert back to "L" sounds since each is beside a consonant again. Example: 오라 = ora; 올라 = olla.)

    알바니아 would sound pretty much like the spelling "albania" would in Spanish.
     

    wildsunflower

    Senior Member
    Korean & English (Canada)
    Regarding the ㄹ sound, as Warp3 said, it sounds similar to "L" in English, yet with a difference for the position of the tongue. It is not between the teeth and the ceiling of the mouth as for the "L" sound, but roughly at the entrance of the ceiling. So, it feels lighter than "L". Also, it will be useful to remember Two ㄹs ="L". For example, Polo would be written as "폴로". The "R" sound in English does not exist in Korean. The tongue for the "ㄹ" sound cannot be up in the middle as for "R".
     

    Benkarnell

    Member
    US English
    I'm just beginning to learn Korean, and I'm also having trouble with the consonants. Specifially, my English ears cannot hear the difference between the following sounds:

    ㄱ/ㅋ
    ㄷ/ㅌ
    ㅂ/ㅍ
    ㅈ/ㅊ

    When I first memorized the letters (the "a" syllables), I could tell that the second letter/sound in each pair was aspirated a tiny bit more, and that they seemed to shorten vowels that come after them. But I keep hearing other words where they're pronounced differently. Is there a way I can remember the difference?
     

    wingedfire

    New Member
    MExican spanish
    I'm just beginning to learn Korean, and I'm also having trouble with the consonants. Specifially, my English ears cannot hear the difference between the following sounds:

    ㄱ/ㅋ
    ㄷ/ㅌ
    ㅂ/ㅍ
    ㅈ/ㅊ

    When I first memorized the letters (the "a" syllables), I could tell that the second letter/sound in each pair was aspirated a tiny bit more, and that they seemed to shorten vowels that come after them. But I keep hearing other words where they're pronounced differently. Is there a way I can remember the difference?
    As you guys continue learning korean, your ears will get used to the sounds. Meanwhile, here is my interpretation: (I could be wrong, though)

    ㄱ/ㅋ: The first one sounds like a "g" or a soft "k", and it is mostly pronounced like in english. The second one is said with a burst of air, so it should be said with a stronger breath.
    ㄷ/ㅌ: These are "d" and "t", respectively. It's more complicated, but that's a good place to start.
    ㅂ/ㅍ: The first one is a "b" or "p". It's a mix between the two, actually. The second one is a strong "p" sound, and, like the aforementioned ᄏ, should be said with a burst of air. It has always reminded me of a "ph/f" sound.
    ㅈ/ㅊ: This one gave me a mountain of trouble when learning korean. The first one is like the english "j", the second one like a "ch", but that is a very loose translation. Also, I kept getting confused with 자 and 야, because the "ᄌ" sound it extremely similar to some of those vowels.

    The really hard part are the vowels, though. 으 and 어 are monsters. Same with 애.
     

    wildsunflower

    Senior Member
    Korean & English (Canada)
    wingedfire is quite correct in explaining Korean consonants.

    ㄱ/ㅋ, ㄷ/ㅌ, ㅂ/ㅍ, ㅈ/ㅊ
    For each of these 4 sets of consonants, you can think that the two consonants have the same mouth shape, but the second constant requires the burst of air. I find the first consonant of the set is weaker and the second consonant is stronger than their English equivalences. For example, ㅂ is weaker than b, and ㅍ is stronger than p.

    For the vowers, 으 is similar to the non-vower of "th" in "thread", 어 is to "ə" for "e" in "person", and 애 is to "ɛ" for "e" in "fresh".
     

    wingedfire

    New Member
    MExican spanish
    wingedfire is quite correct in explaining Korean consonants.

    ㄱ/ㅋ, ㄷ/ㅌ, ㅂ/ㅍ, ㅈ/ㅊ
    For each of these 4 sets of consonants, you can think that the two consonants have the same mouth shape, but the second constant requires the burst of air. I find the first consonant of the set is weaker and the second consonant is stronger than their English equivalences. For example, ㅂ is weaker than b, and ㅍ is stronger than p.

    For the vowers, 으 is similar to the non-vower of "th" in "thread", 어 is to "ə" for "e" in "person", and 애 is to "ɛ" for "e" in "fresh".
    I don't think that making comparisons to english words are the best way for teaching a new language, but oh well. I always thought 으 was a bit like the japanese "U" sound, but a little different, roughly equivalent to the "e" in "spotted" or even the "er" in "winner". I have never heard anything reminescent of the 어 sound in english, but it is a bit like the "u" in "run", but with a rounder mouth. Everyone I ask says 애 sounds almost excactly the same as 에, and any difference is too slight to factor in.
     

    wildsunflower

    Senior Member
    Korean & English (Canada)
    I don't think that making comparisons to english words are the best way for teaching a new language, but oh well.
    That may be true. But, I cannot see any other way in this forum format of learning.

    To me, the "e" in "spotted" sounds more like "이", and the "er" in "winner" to "어".

    The 어 sound can be a bit like the "u" in "run", as you mentioned. It sounds either "ʌ" or "ə" to my ears, depending on what comes before and after.

    The "애" and "에" should sound different in theory, but not many people can tell the difference in practice.
     

    wingedfire

    New Member
    MExican spanish
    I have a General American/Southern accent, so maybe that's the problem. Now that I think about it, winner does sound like 어 and run sounds more like 으. I am not, however, a native Korean speaker.

    At OP, ㅂ leans towards p in the end of words, and b at the beginning. ㄱ leans towards k at the end and g/k at the beginning, with a g sound in the middle of words. ㄹ sounds like l at the end of words if the next syllable doesn't start with ㅇ, and r at the beginnings. ㅅ and ㅈ both retain their original sounds at the beginning, but sound like t at the end if the next syllable doesn't start with ㅇ.
     

    Benkarnell

    Member
    US English
    감사합니다, all of you.

    My strategy for 어 has been to pretend I'm getting punched in the stomach, but I know that won't last once I start speaking faster ;).

    으 seems very similar to the German ü, which I'm familiar with. French has the same sound, if I'm not mistaken.

    I'm not sure I'll ever be able to pronounce a good native 라, but then, I'm only just starting.
     

    kenjoluma

    Senior Member
    Korean
    어 is more like umbrella or under.
    으...is... race, pace. cake, sake...

    Hmm... no?


    으 is generally pronounced when people say "mustn't (머슨)", "shouldn't (슈든)"...
    Oh, and to Korean ears, "Britain" sounds like "브리튼"
     
    Last edited:

    nhk9

    Member
    Canada English
    감사합니다, all of you.

    My strategy for 어 has been to pretend I'm getting punched in the stomach, but I know that won't last once I start speaking faster ;).

    으 seems very similar to the German ü, which I'm familiar with. French has the same sound, if I'm not mistaken.

    I'm not sure I'll ever be able to pronounce a good native 라, but then, I'm only just starting.
    It's not entirely accurate. The 으 is a closed back unrounded vowel, yet the german u with the umlaut is a semi closed mid front rounded vowel. they are EXTREMELY different. If you are not sure, you should consult an IPA website.
     
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