Pyongyang standard dialect intonation


New Member
English - United States
Hello! I was looking for a bit of insight as to the differences in pitch and intonation in the Pyongyang standard and Seoul standard dialects. Most of the information I have found talks about the difference in passing, while not explaining it further. I thought this would be the right place to ask.

What I'd like to know (sorry if this is a lot to ask for):
  • As far as the Internet tells me, the Pyongyang standard is very abrupt, but is this true of normal conversation (vs. the modified version used for public speaking, etc.)?
  • What are some established rules/guidelines relating to the Pyongyang standard dialect? Are there any glaring differences between this and the Seoul standard?
  • Are there any situations in which the provided guidelines change or otherwise do not apply (such as in changing formality levels, etc.)?
  • Lastly, has there been any serious research into the differences in intonation that might have been published on the Internet (such as academic papers)?
Thanks in advance!
  • pcy0308

    Senior Member
    Hello Alyzana,
    It is hard to grasp what the Internet means by the Pyongyang standard being "very abrupt". If you are referring to all those propaganda speeches, the national television broadcast, I'd say they indeed sound rather authoritative, overzealous (or determined) and exaggerated. Googling or going through some Youtube videos show that how average people from Pyongyang speak and communicate in day-to-day conversation is quite different from those "abrupt" and harsh-sounding pitches and intonations. Personally, I did not find their everyday pitch, intonation, and accent to be that abrupt: I came across this video of a North Korean language instructor teaching Korean to foreigners, and the way she talks - despite clear differences in intonation and pronunciation vis-à-vis the Seoul dialects - was not all too abrupt or harsh.

    (Please bear in mind that I am not at all knowledgeable in any existing, established rules of the Pyongyang dialect. That being said, I am just simply expressing what I've observed and heard! :) I am sure more qualified users of the forum will be able to answer all your questions in much more depth and detail.)
    To my understanding and as is the case with any other dialects for that matter, the Pyongyang dialect does have pretty similar, if not completely identical, "높임말" (formal form) and "반말" (casual/lowered form) of speech, though there are a few noticeable differences with regards to which specific forms are employed: North Koreans even in everyday conversations tend to use "오, 다, 나, 까" form (plain and interrogative sentences ending in 다, 나, 까) way more often than South Korean counterparts. Though South Koreans do use te "오, 다, 나, 까" form and are very familiar with it, "-요", "-죠" forms are more easily heard in day-to-day conversations.