Korean is an East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each country. It is a recognized minority language in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin Province, China. It is also spoken in parts of Sakhalin, Russia and Central Asia. The Korean alphabet is known as Hangul. The letters for the five basic consonants reflect the shape of the speech organs used to pronounce them, and they are systematically modified to indicate phonetic features; similarly, the vowel letters are systematically modified for related sounds, making Hangul a featural writing system. Hangul was created under King Sejong during the Chosun Dynasty (1393-1910). in 1446, the first Korean alphabet was proclaimed under the original name Hunmin chong-um, which literally meant “the correct sounds for the instruction of the people.”
Basic guide to learn the Korean alphabets:
- Compared to Japanese and Chinese alphabets, Hangul is easy to learn. Hangul is infinitely manageable and straightforward. It began as the brainchild of King Sejong the Great, the fourth king of the Chosun Dynasty. At that time, the Korean language was written with Chinese characters.
- The Korean alphabet or Hangul consists of 24 basic letters: 14 consonants (ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ ㄹ ㅁ ㅂ ㅅ ㅇ ㅈ ㅊ ㅋ ㅌ ㅍ ㅎ) and 10 vowels (ㅏ ㅑ ㅓ ㅕ ㅗ ㅛ ㅜ ㅠ ㅡ ㅣ). Additionally, as you’ll dive into it, you’ll discover that there are in fact 19 complex letters with 5 tense consonants (ㄲ ㄸ ㅃ ㅉ ㅆ) and 11 complex vowels (ㅢ ㅚ ㅐ ㅟ ㅔ ㅒ ㅖ ㅘ ㅝ ㅙ ㅞ) formed by combining the basic letters. The basic Hangul vowels in Korean are: ㅇ,ㅏ, andㅣ.
- The sounds of the 14 consonants (or the extended list of 19) of the Korean language change depending on whether they appear at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a syllable.
- The Korean vowels are generally separated into two categories: monophthongs and diphthongs. While monophthongs are produced with a single articular movement, diphthongs feature an articulatory change and typically consist of two elements: a glide (or a semivowel) and a monophthong.
- The alphabetic order of the Korean alphabet is called ganada (가,나,다) and it does not mix consonants and vowels. Rather, first are consonants and then come vowels.
- It can be really tricky to master Korean pronunciation if you don’t actively live in a Korean-speaking country. But Multibhashi, the language learning platform, has the Korean language online classes which you can take. Here’s the link to check for more information, https://classes.multibhashi.com/courses/live-korean-classes-online?referrer=footer
Learning a second language is not easy but it is a great opportunity to get better jobs. Even though the Korean language is difficult to learn it is by no means impossible. You may need to spend lots of hours a day and practice more than you should but in the end, it’s worth learning the language.