Further tips for pronouncing ㄹ (r/l)

The first post of 2014!! I hope everyone has had a fab New Year either out partying or sat comfy at home and I wish everybody a brilliant 2014. Mwah!

So I thought I’d share something I’ve come across when talking with E. One of his names is ‘Ryeol’. Now obviously the romanization suggests you use the rolling r sound or even, as I thought after listening to him pronounce it, with a more l sound. However he eventually explained that whilst the romanization ‘Ryeol’ is correct, it’s actually prnounced more ‘Nyeol’. That’s right. With an N….whuuuut.

Now obviously this doesn’t apply to every single romanized ㄹ (every single r/l) but I’m going to guess that whenever ㄹ (r/l) is paired with a y then it takes on a more ‘ny’ sound especially when the next letters are ‘eo’ or ‘o’ and/or the last letter pronounced was a ‘ng’ sound (as in runni’NG’)

Pronouncing ‘Ryeol’ as ‘Nyeol’ at first kind of made me go ‘whuuuuu-‘ but then after I said it a couple of times fast ‘Ni’ – ‘uhl’ (a basic example of it broken down into syllables) I found it actually does sound as though there’s a hint of a muted ‘l’ sound in there.

So just a heads up! ㄹ can occasionally take on a ‘n’ sound under certain circumstances. But don’t go round wondering ‘Oh god I don’t DARE try and pronounce this ㄹ what if it’s an N!?’ Just pronounce it as you usually would, as an r/l sound and if it’s more of an ‘n’ sound somebody will correct you. Just listen to other people say whatever word it is and you’ll pick it up. (:

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Korean ᄅ r/l pronunciation?

So just a quick update on Korean phonology, the ᄅ pronunciation! At first I assumed that this letter would be pronounced the same way every time – by rolling the tongue, and it is! The same as a Japanese r/l, ᄅ is pronounced by rolling the tongue and it sounds closer to an r than an l however, I have found that a lot of the time it is pronounced closer to an l than an r.

Mostly when ᄅ is at the end of a word such as ‘reul’/’ 를’. Here it is at the beginning and end, the beginning ᄅ is pronounced closer to an r sound but the second ᄅ is pronounced closer to an l sound.

Lots of times the ᄅ will be in the middle of a word and it will be pronounced closer to an l sound such as ‘molla’/’몰라’.

To make this ‘inbetween-not-a-tongue-rolling-r-but-not-a-full-on-l’ sound move the tip of your tongue back as if you were about to roll it to make the ‘flicky-rolling-tongue-r’ sound but don’t flick it, keep it there. Now try to say an l sound like ‘elllll’ or ‘ullll’. Try saying ‘molla’! Or ‘hullllll’!

You’ll see in a lot of kdramas that the placeent/shape of the mouth when Koreans pronounce the l sound is different to a westerners.

Sometimes its hard to distinguish but the placement of the tongue can make l sounds very different! Practice if its not easy for you, you’ll get the hang of it! BOOM! (:


(neun)는 and (eun)은 and (reul)를 and (eul)을 – not as hard to remember as you think!

I’m going to debunk the assumption that learning the markers/particles in Korean is hard. Specifically when to use neun, eun, reul and eul.

Some of you reading this might wonder why I’m talking about something that’s so easy to get over but a lot of people have a hard time trying to understand WHY there are two different words/markers that mean EXACTLY the same thing but are used in different circumstances. Neun/eun goes after the subject of a sentence and reul/eul goes after the object. Neun and reul are to be used when the last letter you pronounced was a vowel and eun and eul are to be used when the last letter you pronounced was a consonant.

The circumstances you think you have to remember? Forget about them. It’s not a certain situation, it’s not a complicated reason, it’s simply the way you speak. What I mean by this is basically the natural way your mouth moves from pronouncing one letter to another and neun/eun,/reul/eul are there to make this as easy for your mouth as possible. This is not a new thing. This is not unique to Korea. WE HAVE IT IN ENGLISH!

Look at the words ‘a’ and ‘an’. Think about it. They mean the same thing. For example; ‘I stroked a cat’ and ‘I stroked an animal’.

A = the next letter you pronounce will be a consonant

An = the next letter you pronounce will be a vowel

If we said ‘I stroked an cat’ it wouldn’t make sense and our tongue feels a little forced when we try to say it. If we said ‘I stroked a animal’ it sounds a bit awkward doesn’t it? In the same way ‘a’ and ‘an’ are there to make our speech smoother neun/eun and reul/eul are there to make our speech flow.

It is definitely nowhere near as complex as you might think, if you’ve been practicing simple Korean sentences try saying ‘jeo neun namja ida’ 저는 남자 이다(I am a man) or ‘jeo neun yeoja ida’ 저는 여자 이다 (I am a woman).

*If you’re not sure how to pronounce the ‘eo’ sound watch this. To get to the pronunciation of ‘eo’ skip to 6:44, sweetandtasty is brilliant and I highly recommend watching her to understand Korean culture, pronunciation, reading and writing and expanding your vocabulary.*

As you can see once you get a bit faster at saying the sentence is feel comfortable and natural to slip into ‘neun’ right after saying ‘jeo’. Jeo neun, jeo neun ahhhhh so nice. This is why I love Korean language, it’s so flowy. (:

Eun example –  ‘jae i reum eun (your name) imnida’ 제 이 름 은 (your name) 입 니 다 (My name is—)  – reum eun, reum eun, reum eun…sounds a little like ramen but with a weird accent!

reul – just say ‘na reul’ 나를 (me)

eul – just try ‘jib eul’ 집을 (house)

How easily do they just roll of your tongue! So good, it comes naturally I promise. Try saying it wrong. Like’ reum neun’. It sounds uncomfortable. whereas ‘reum eun’ is much more comfy. Just like’ a cat’ and ‘an animal’ is to us English speakers.

So BOOM. Definitely not as hard to get your head round as you might think!Hope that helped you a little if you were struggling! 제 이 름 은 Lily 입 니 다 and I am OFF! (:


Korean pronunciation – American vs English?

Okay, as I’m currently focusing on my Korean at the moment, I thought I’d help some people out by bringing to light the problem with learning pronunciation online. Of course learning how to pronounce certain sounds is going to be easier if you have someone to practice with in person but for a lot of us learning is done through books and online sources. If you’ve found a site that includes audio files so you can hear the pronunciation then you may as well skip this post, but I’m just going to assume that anyone reading it either;

1.) Cannot open the audio files

2.) Doesn’t have a site that includes said files/is learning from a book or printed sheets

3.) Is deaf

So the issue I have with some online learning resources regarding pronunciation is the difference between American sounds and English sounds. In fact BRITISH sounds. There are Scottish, Irish and Welsh people as well y’know! And god there’s even the Australian accent and New Zealand all that jazz but to keep it simple I’m going to just use Standard American vs Standard English.

Firstly I’m going to give you an example. Say the word ‘saw’  in an American accent and then in an English accent (if you can). The ‘-aw’ is pronounced differently.

(The best e.g. I can give it is English – ‘soh‘ and American ‘sah‘).

Some online sites use the word ‘saw’ to represent how the letter ㅓ (Romanization: ‘eo’) should be pronounced, eo = aw.

A further example; the word ‘저’ (Romanization: ‘Jeo’ meaning ‘I’). An American person would probably say it correctly whereas if we used the standard English pronunciation of saw it wouldn’t be right (unless you’re from Yorkshire in which case a lot of people may say it correctly). 저 would be pronounced ‘jaw’ or ‘juh’. Which one you ask? Well it’s somewhere in the middle. Don’t worry guys I’m going to vid this up soon!

This is something I’ve come across and there isn’t really an easy way to fix it apart from actually stating on your site that you’re going to be going by American pronunciation/English pronunciation. Most sites will go by American pronunciation either because they are American or because they feel like most people will assume American pronunciation anyway. I haven’t come across one site yet that states which pronunciation they’re using probably because it’s only minor details that differ between English and American. It is however best to go by American pronunciation just because we all assume that’s the way it is anyway, but I’d like to see it stated on sites more that way people actually know for sure they’re saying it correctly. This isn’t solely Korean pronunciation either but the letter ㅓ is one which you MUST know in Korean but this pronunciation thing can be applied to any language, Japanese etc.

So that’s just something I’d like to get out there! The difference between American and English accents when looking up pronunciations in books or online without being able to hear an example. Please be careful about how you’re pronouncing something and as a general rule just go by American pronunciation. I’ll example this shiz on vid soon so over and out guys!