Korean pronunciation


I don’t understand one thing: I’m studying korean alphabet, and i see that character can be pronunce differently. Exemple
I read nabi but i hear dabi
I read buseyo but I hear puseyo

it’s normal?

Yup, Korean consonants don’t match exactly with English consonants - they are instead meant as a general guide. In the end, you’re best off familiarizing yourself with what the different consonants and vowels in Korean sound like, then spending time listening to the language to actually refine your pronunciation of specific words.

I think 나비 sounding like dabi is because of bad quality of recording or some software distorting it (like Google Translate). 나 is seldom confusing.

보세요 does sound like “puseyo”(or “poh-sei-you”) with “p”. The ㅂ is usually written as “b” in romanization, but its actual sound is closer to “p” often times, especially when it comes at the beginning of a word. It is difficult to describe it but its sound is what you get if you weaken the aspiration (the sharp puffing h-like sound) in English “p” and vibrate your throat area a litlle. It is a duller and heavier version of English “p” when at the beginning, and becomes somewhat softer (closer to “b”) when not at the beginning, like in 나비. You should listen carefully to native speakers to get the hang of it.

Anyway, even though it’s not quite the “b” sound, ㅂis represented as “b” in writings because there is also ㅍwhich sounds pretty much the same as English “p”. And there is one more, ㅃ, which is a bit like the French and Spanish “p” (“Paris”) but stronger. So these consonent sets (ㄱ/ㅋ/ㄲ, ㄷ/ㅌ/ㄸ, ㅂ/ㅍ/ㅃ, ㅈ/ㅊ/ㅉ, ㅅ/ㅆ, …) and greater variety of vowels make Korean more difficult than Japanese in the beginning (but not using Kanji as much compensates in the long run).

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Pronunciation is tricky in Korean, as we sometimes want to think that Korean has no exceptions but it seems in fact that it has quite a few. I remember hearing a friend say “네” to his dad on the phone several times in a row back when I was just starting to learn Korean, and I remember it sounding very nasaly and almost like a combination between “nay” and “day”. 눈발 took me a while to remembe how to pronounce correctly.

It’s still interesting to me that 김치 can either have a very strong ㅋ sound or a very guttural ㄱ sound, and sometimes the same person switches back and forth in the same sentence.

when i’m reading you, i just want to die. It’s so difficult. No matter, i will work hard to improve myself.
So if i understand, with some practice, i will get used to hear? I must not worry about that and continue?

thanks for the answer :slight_smile:

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I agree Korean pronunciation can be really tricky. But I thought at least things like 나 or 네 was easy, but it looks like I could have been wrong there too :slight_smile:

And, yes, I also hear some people claim that Korean is very logical and has a clean mapping between the written and spoken forms. In my mind that is far from the truth. Korean might even be more irregular in many ways than an average language (if there is such a thing). The consonant sets are especially tricky because, as you say, the difference among the ㄱ/ㅋ/ㄲ and other sets are often not that clear by themselves and people seem to rely on the context to tell them apart, even though they may not realize it. And then there are other things like two consonants coming in succession, verb and adjective form changes, and so on, so it’s not the easiest language for sure.

But, you know what they say - the more difficult it is, the greater satisfaction you get when you’ve made it :slight_smile:

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My advice is don’t worry about it! Alex is right that even Koreans don’t really pronounce things the same way all the time, and different dialects can pronounce things quite differently. You could look at that as being more complicated, but you can also look at it the other way. Since there isn’t only one right way to say something, if you can just generally mimic the way words are phrases are said in the material you’re listening to, you will be understood by others. And really that, and understanding what others say to you, are all that matter.

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In fact, we have to learn this language by an other way. It’s really funny but difficult. Anyway, everybody here can speak Korean so i can too, i’m sure.

Thank you all for your support :3

Oh, take hope! Yes, there is much to learn in any language.

Korean is very reasonable and logical, compared to others.

The pronunciation will come with time. When I first started, I just took the closest roman letter and went with that until Hangul became familiar and I had heard enough Korean words to start noticing that letters sound different at the beginning of words than in the middle, and some times are influenced by the neighbor letters.

Roman wasn’t built in a day … and pronunciation isn’t learned in a day either.

There are several posts on my blog about pronunciation of Korean. I’m still learning. This one uses cartoon grammar characters for flashcards to remember the rules … Pronunciation & Grammaropolis | Hanguk Babble

you have quite a resource in your blog! Maybe I should learn how to teach Korean there. Thank you so much :smiley: