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Beginners Lesson Two
Hangul Irregularities

So, you feel you've got a good grasp on the basics of the characters.

Then you're ready for Lesson 2! This lesson will cover all the Hangul irregularities. Once you know the characters and the times they are irregular, you can read any Hangul and read it perfectly. Korean is more simple when it comes to reading than English is. Sometimes in English you can read it 5 times and still not know how to say the word correctly. This is not the case with Korean. So, enough talk. Let's get started.

The first irregular pattern has already been mentioned in Lesson One.

ㄱ, ㅂ, ㄷ

These three characters are your three main basic consonants. At the end of a word or before a consonant, many other characters will be simplified to sound just like these. Here is what I mean:

ㅋ, ㄲ

both of these characters will sound like ㄱ before another consonant or at the end of a word. But for this example, that isn't so much of a difference. How about this one though?

ㅈ, ㅅ, ㅆ,ㅉ, ㅊ

Now, all of these will sound like ㄷ before another consonant or at the end of a word. That makes more of a difference. Even though ㅅ gives an s sound normally, it will sound like a d or t if it occurs before another consonant or at the end of a word. If it occurs before a vowel, it will sound like an s.

ㅃ ㅍ

These will sound like ㅂ. See a pattern? ㅂ, ㅃ, and ㅍ are all made by closing your lips. Notice the pattern in the two sets above? One includes characters that are made in the back of the throat, while the other includes characters that are made with the tongue behind the teeth on the roof of the mouth. If you remember this pattern, you should not forget which characters end with a ㄱ, ㅂ, or ㄷ sound. Now, how about some real examples.

맛은 mas-un
앞에 ap-e (with more air on the p)
꽃이 Gohch-ee

Keep in mind, if a syllable begins with the Hangul character following these rules, we treat it as if the syllable begins with a vowel (since it is unheard). So, a better way to put it would be if the character comes before another consonant sound or at the end of a word, then it will be reduced to one of the three basic consonants. This is the first irregular to keep in mind. After the second irregularity, there will be some time to practice a little bit before continuing.

The second Irregularity

The second irregularity involves changing the sound of a few characters if it comes before certain other characters. The main thing to watch for is the second character. There are two of them and they are both consonants. They are

ㅁ, ㄴ

These two characters are known as nasal sounds. Basically, the reason for this irregularity is it makes the words flow better. If ㄱ, ㄲ, ㅋ any of the "throat" sounds occur before one of these two consonants, it will change to an "ng" sound, as if it was the consonant . Notice why it changes to that? That is a throat sound as well, and let's the word flow better. In writing it will keep the original spelling, but when spoken it will reflect the change.

ㅂ, ㅃ, ㅍ any of the sounds made by closing your lips will change to the ㅁ sound before either of these two consonants. Notice how saying 함니다 flows a lot better than saying 합니다? It just flows better, as with the above case. ㅁ is also made by closing the lips.

The last cases are all the sounds made by placing the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth. ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅉ, ㅊ, ㄷ, ㄸ get the picture? These will change to the ㄴ sound before an ㅁ or an ㄴ. ㄴ is also made with the tongue in a similar position. here are some examples.

합니다 - This is pronounced hamnida, as opposed to hapnida.
학년 - this is pronounced hang-nyon, as opposed to hak-nyon
먹네 - This is pronounced mong-ne, as opposed to mok-ne
있는 - This is pronounced ee-nun, as opposed to eet-nun (notice the t at the end? That would be the case following irregularity rule number one, but because it comes before ㄴ, it sounds like an ㄴ).

These two rules are the main two irregularities you will run into. Most other irregularities are much smaller, and not as common. They tend to be specific to a single character, and not a group of characters.

The next irregularity deals with the character

This character has a few irregular forms that you will see. I personally believe if you know irregular forms above this, you will be able to pronounce most anything reasonably well.

If is between vowel sounds, it will sound like a rolling "r" like in spanish or japanese. If this makes it difficult for you like that, just think of it sounding like a quick d or t sound. It is not the long rolling "r" sound you hear in spanish, just a short one click of the tongue.

At the end of a syllable before a consonant ( excluding then it will usually sound like a light "l" sound. Both of these were mentioned in the previous lesson.

Irregularities deal with when is falls next to certain characters. It will only begin a word if it is a loanword, in which case it will sound like the loanword. But it sometimes (rarely) will be the first consonant after another syllable ending in a consonant, such as 정로. When this is the case, it will sound like ㄴ. 정로 is pronounced chongno.

The second irregularity is if it is at the end/beginning of a syllable, and the other consonant it lies next to (end/beginning, whichever the ㄹ is not) is a ㄹ or an ㄴ. If it is an ㄹ, then it will be an "l" sound, like usual. But, if it is next to an ㄴ, as in 일년, it will still make an "l" sound. 일년 is pronounced eel-lyon, not eel-nyon. Try saying it both ways, you will see that eel-lyon flows a lot better.

This character has one irregular form. It is simple as well. If ㅌ comes before 이, it is pronounced as if it were ㅊ, meaning with a "ch" sound. 같이 is pronounced ga-chee, not gat-ee.

This is the final irregular form you will learn. Whenever this falls next to (end/beginning syllable combination) a sound such as ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅈ, or ㅂ, you will usually not hear the ㅎ sound and the ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅈ, or ㅂ sound will sound more like ㅋ,ㅌ,ㅊ,or ㅍ with more air. Some words in this situation are 놓다, 좋다, 괜찮다.

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