Getting Started Menu:  Consonants Vowels Syllables Typing Hangeul

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NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAIN SOUNDS (IN BLACK) AND ASPIRATED SOUNDS (IN RED) IN YOUR MOUTH.

NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAIN SOUNDS (IN BLACK) AND ASPIRATED SOUNDS (IN RED) IN YOUR MOUTH.

You will need to memorize all the Hangeul consonants. In Hangeul, consonants are more complicated than vowels. But they also make a certain kind of sense. Many people who study language have praised Hangeul for its design, describing it as “remarkable”, “the most perfect phonetic system devised”, and “brilliant, so deliberately does it fit the language like a glove.”* Consonants letters have basic shapes that iconically represent the shapes the tongue, palate, teeth, and throat make when making these sounds. To see an example of how this works, click here.

There are three forms that consonants take:

  • Plain—Pronounced without any special effort.
  • Aspirated—Pronounced with excessive air flow through the throat.
  • Tense—Pronounced with muscle tension in the throat or tongue.

There are 19 consonants in Hangeul, and most of them take a plain form when pronounced, while four are aspirated. There are also five consonants that are double consonants, and those are the ones that require muscle tension when spoken.

Try making the sounds associated with the letters first, to see if you can feel where your tongue is positioned, how you’re using your teeth, and whether or not you’re holding the muscles of your throat tense or letting a puff of air through.

14 기본자음

Consonant Name Pronunciation Basic Sound Example Form
기역 kiyoek g [g]rill Plain
니은 nieun n [n]ail Plain
디귿 digeut d [d]rum Plain
리을 rieul r [r]oad Plain
미음 mium m [m]outh Plain
비읍 bieup b [b]ar[b]er Plain
시옷 siot s [s]tand Plain
이응 yieung ng you[ng] Plain
지읒 jieut j [J]uly Plain
히읗 hieut h [h]ouse Plain
치읓 chieut ch [ch]ur[ch] Aspirated
키읔 kieuk k [k]ing Aspirated
티읕 tieut t [t]ree Aspirated
피읖 pieup p [p]ool Aspirated

Double ConsonantsLearn Five More Consonants

 

*Taylor, Insup (1980). “The Korean writing system: An alphabet? A syllabary? A logography?”. In Kolers, P.A.; Wrolstad, M. E.; Bouma, Herman. Processing of Visual Language 2. New York: Plenum Press. p. 65.
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