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! (: