Korean Language Blog

Spoken versus Written Posted by on May 22, 2009 in Uncategorized

A lot of people think that the Korean language is phonetic, meaning that words are pronounced exactly as they are written. This is true to some extent, but there are cases where there is a discrepancy between the way Korean is read and the way it’s written.

When a riul (리율) or is placed next to a or niun (니은) the is pronounced as a . This means that a word like 전라도 (Jonlado is a province in Korea) is pronounced as 절라도 (Jollado), even though it’s written as 전라도. 연락 (yonlak) or contact is pronounced as yolak (열락) even though it’s written as 연락. The same goes for 편리 (punli) or convenience. It’s written as 편리 but pronounced as 펼리 (pulli).

When mium (미음) or is next to a niun (니은) the will sound like a . A word like shinmun (신문) or newspaper, is pronounced as shimmun (심문), even though it’s written as shinmun (신문). The same goes for anma (안마) or massage. It’s written as anma (안마) but it’s pronounced as amma (암마).

When biup (비웁) or is next to a niun (니은) or the will make a mium (미음) or  sound. With a word like kamsahapnida (감사합니다) or “thank you”, the p turns into an m sound, making the word into kamsahamnida (감사함니다), even though it’s written as kamsahapnida (갑사합니다). The same thing happens to a word like komapsupnida (고맙습니다) which also means “thank you”. Even though it’s written as komapsupnida (고맙습니다) it’s pronounced as komapsumnida (고맙슴니다).

When kiyok (기역) or is next to a mium (미음) or   the will make a iung (이응) or sound. Kukmul (국물) or soup is pronounced as kungmul (궁물) and kukmo (국모) or queen is called kungmo (궁모).

 When kiyok (기역) or is next to a hiut (히읏) or the will make a or kiuk (키윽) sound. Bukhan (북한) or North Korea is pronounced as bukkan (부칸). Chakhan (착한) which means “kind” or “good-hearted” is pronounced as chakkan (차칸).

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