Placeholder Posted by Ginny on May 19, 2009 in Korean Language
Whenever you see a vowel such as this: 아, you’ll see a circle right before the vowel. All vowels have this feature. However, when vowels are combined with consonants, they lose this feature.
Let’s look at a two letter word: 나. This word is written correctly because it starts with a consonant followed by a vowel. A three letter word such as: 설, will have a consonant-vowel-consonant order. A four letter word such as 싫, will have a consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant order. The most that a single word can be stacked together is 4 letters.
When there’s a vertical vowel, like 아, the placeholder is always located to the left of the vertical vowel. You can determine whether a vowel is vertical by looking at the main stem. The main stem is vertical, or looks upright. In the example above, this would be the main stem: l. If the add the arm to the main stem it would look like this:ㅏ. Remember to ignore the arms and the placeholder to determine whether the vowel is vertical. Just look at the main stem. Here are some other examples of vertical vowels: 야, 어, 여, 이.
When the vowel is a horizontal vowel, the placeholder will be above the main stem. Take a vowel like this: 우. The main stem is: ㅜ . Without the arm it would be just: –. Notice how the main stem is horizontal. This is what is categorized as a horizontal vowel. Just like the vertical vowel, the placeholder acts as a silent consonant. Here are some other examples of horizontal vowels: 유, 오, 요, 으.
One thing I want to make clear is that a word like this: 앙 or 응 has only one placeholder. The placeholder is always located in a higher region of the stacked letters. It’s never located below. When you see a circle character located below, this is an actual consonant that makes an “ng” sound. (Remember that placeholders are silent.) So 앙 is pronounced as “ang” and 응 is pronounced as “ung”.
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Why does 아바나 mean havana with an h but 안나 means anna and they both have a placeholder? Shouldnt the h be silent since it’s a placeholder like in anna?