Speaking Hangul

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Chapter 1

Getting Down the Basics

In This Chapter

Sounding off with Korean phonetics

Pronouncing the basic vowels and consonants

Working on sounding fluent

Practicing some Korean phrases

Using Korean gestures

Surprising a woneomin (won-uh-min; native speaker) of Korea by perfectly

pronouncing a mungu (moon-goo; phrase or a munjang (moon-jang; sen-

tence) of their language can be jaemi (jae-mee; fun). And the purpose of this

chapter is to help you do exactly that. Here you will learn how to pronounce

Korean and get a hang of a few common haengdong (hang-dong; gestures). It

shouldn’t take long for you to begin fooling your Korean chingudeul (chin-

goo-deul; friends) into thinking that you’ve secretly been spending time mas-

tering the language.

Like unjeon (oon-jun; driving), riding ajajeongeo (ja-juhn-guh; bike) or

tightrope geotgi (gut-gee; walking), the only way to get better at pronouncing

Korean is by practicing. And the only way to fix your mistakes is by making

them. So in this chapter, I introduce words like chimdae (chim-dae; bed),

angyeoung (an-gyoung; eye glasses), chitsol (chi-sol; toothbrush), and keopi

(kuh-pee; coffee) so you can practice saying words throughout your daily rou-

tine, and also teach you some basic sentences and phrases so you can start

communicating in Korean. The more Korean you incorporate into your daily

routine and daehwa (dae-hwa; conversations) you have, the better your

understanding of Korean will become. Try to get a Korean friend to work with

you. Practicing accurate pronunciation will not only help you deutgi (deut-

gee; listen) and malhagi (mal-ha-gee; speak), but it will also win you brownie

points, as Koreans will think highly of you for taking the time to master the

finer points of their native language.

In the following sections, I present the sounds in their Romanized alphabeti-

cal order. Although it might take a while to get used to Korean sounds, there

are no new concepts to learn such as tone or pitch.

10 Part I: Getting Started

Getting the Basic Sounds

Korean, like English, is a phonetic eoneo (un-uh; language). Each character of

the Korean sseugi (sseu-gee; writing) system represents a sound, be it a vowel

or a consonant. Although Korean has its own writing system, Hangeul, learn-

ing Korean using Korean script will require that you learn various sound

change rules. So instead throughout this book, I will Romanize (write the

sounds of Korean out in English) Korean phonetics, or sounds, using the

English alphabet.

The Romanization method that I have chosen is the revised Romanization of

Korean approved by the Korean government in year 2000. Using Romanization,

I will write out how the characters sound so you can jump into conversation

immediately without learning these rules. In addition, I have also included the

pronunciation of the Korean words in brackets with English translation.

If you have the time, I highly recommend that you learn the Korean script,

Hangeul. Hangeul was developed in the mid 1400s by the King Sejong’s man-

date to create a writing system that could easily be learned by commoners....
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