Hangul!

Hi everyone!  How was your week?

As I mentioned last Monday, this week I’m going to teach you guys the Korean alphabet, or Hangul (한글), and how to read it!  In fact, this week on the 9th is Hangul day, a celebration of the creation of the alphabet!

Hangul was created by King Sejong in the mid 1400s during the Josen Dynasty in order for the common people of the time to become literate.  Before then, Chinese was the language of Korea (and is still used on some high level documents).  Chinese was (and is!) very difficult to learn, meaning only the rich and powerful were able to spend the time and money to learn it.  King Sejong created an alphabet that was much easier to learn than the traditional Chinese characters, and, in fact, it only takes 15 minutes to learn!  I will do my best to teach you guys, but at the bottom of this post, I will leave some links in case you would like to learn more.  In addition, I will be teaching you guys a few words a week!

There are 40 letters in the Korean alphabet, 19 consonants and 21 vowels.  This may sound like a lot (especially since we’re used to only 26), however, I promise it is a lot easier than it sounds (Thanks King Sejong!).  Here is a handy dandy chart I found of all the letters:

Notice how there are two English letters listed for some of the letters?  That’s because depending on where in the word a letter is placed, it may have a different sound.  Also, in addition to being the “-ng” sound at the end of a character, when placed at the front of a character, ㅇ doesn’t have a sound.  This means you just pronounce the vowel.  Here is a playlist of videos with further explanation and examples of pronunciation:

Korean is written and read left to right (just like English!) and top to bottom.  Each character can have only one vowel and up to three consonants.  Here I have drawn a picture of how the letters can line up:

C= Consonant, V= Vowel

C= Consonant, V= Vowel

Let’s try to read some words, shall we?  These words have the similar pronunciation in English, if not exactly the same!

  1. 컴퓨터
  2. 티비
  3. 캐나다
  4. 뉴욕
  5. 바나나

Try your best to read these, and let me know what you think they are in English!  I will post the answers when I do a picture update on Friday.

If you have any questions, or if something is unclear, feel free to comment and I can help out!  I hope you have enjoyed learning Hangul.  Have a great week!

References:

http://www.zkorean.com/hangul/appearance

http://www.zkorean.com/hangul/history_of_hangul

Korean Wiki Project:

http://www.koreanwikiproject.com/wiki/Main_Page

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