Korean Fonts

This is my only post for this month.  My work life is getting busier each day and I can only find time to rest during weekends.   This post is in response to a query on Korean or Hangul font.

When you enable your PC to write and display Korean fonts, Microsoft office provides default font for free.  There are 3 fonts to choose from as follows:

There are many other Korean Fonts out there but unfortunately free download are found on Korean sites only, some websites in English offers font for a fee.  You can have a quick look at the different fonts available for Hangul by clicking this site.  Some of the links are broken though.  This site sells Korean Font but the price is something is worth 1 software already.

I guess Hangul is really such an art more than just an instrument to write in Korean, as most of the other fonts out are proprietary, you need to buy it to use it.

Of the free fonts from Microsoft, I often use Dotum i like it simple and smooth =)

Practical Tips on Learning Korean

I am writing some of my recommended activities in learning Korean.  This is based on my experience as Korean Language entusiast.  To learn this language really needs passion, so I just couldn’t imagine how challenging it is for someone who needs to learn Korean because it is simply required in their profession or job.

There are 4 things worth considering which I find helpful in my day to day learning of Korean.

  • Learn how to read Hangul.  If you really intend to understand the language you need to study their writing system and pronunciation rules using Hangul.  Romanization will not help you speed your fluency.  You will only be troubled by the way characters are translalated from Hangul to alphabet as there are different ways to romanize Hangul.  I remember in my earlier days of learning, i had language exchange partners who i wrote emails with in romanized Korean and they are so confused on what I mean.  Like the word 십팔 (shippal) which is actually eighteen, another word sounding like this means vulgar.  The word 씨발 (sshipal) means fu*k.  Although they are romanized differently since there is no single standard in romanization,  one should be cautious in using this word the romanized way.
  • Buy a book that explains the Korean language structure and use.  Instead of buying phrase book, get to know how sentence are formed.  How words are structured for conversational use.  I remember buying every phrase book that I saw from the bookstore simply because there are pointers from one book which is not discussed on the other book.  I ended up having 5 phrase book and it contains almost the same thing except for a portion or section.  Each of the book tells me how to say 안녕하세요, 반갑습니다 etc.  At the end of the day you will only memorize these words and never really know how each word is used.  You might end up wondering why nouns or verbs have different pronunciation (and later discover that there is such thing as particles or post-positioning in Korean). I suggest you invest on a book that explains the language the linguistics approach.  I am very much happy with my Elementary Korean Book.  I learned a lot from it.
  • Invest on a good English-Korean Dictionary.  Make sure you buy the one that has Hangul characters on it and not a pure romanized Korean-English dictionary.  If you are confused on word, search on my posting about dictionary entry =)
  • Watch Korean movies and listen to Korean songs. Reading the book may trouble you with the pronunciation so you can validate sounds when you listen to native speaker speacilly on the characters that become glutha rest or with dual sound (ㄹ-l/r; ㄱ-g/k).  There are likewise nuisance in the pronunciation of Korean words so this will help you.  Listening to music will also help you practice Korean translation. It likewise help you validate what you have learned on you own. 

I know it sometimes becomes a bore but you just have to be patient.  Try to read something in Korean a day may it be a lesson from a book, a post in the internet, etc. and if it seems to be tiring get hold of your dictionaty and learn at least 2 to 3 new words… this way you learn slowly but surely.  Happy Learning.

1st Day – Formal School

After careful thinking and searching for a Korean Language School — I have enrolled my self in Korean Class 1 at the Univesity of the Philippines in Diliman.  This is my first day in a formal school to learn Korean and Hangul. 

I am just proud of what I have learned by myself.  The day 1 lesson is very basic and good thing I am done and over with it.  Its all about understanding the characters, vowel, consonants, some rules in writing and pronunciation. Exactly the same context in my Elementary Korean Book.  Looking at my recent entries, I have gone this far and decided to have formal schooling just now.  I don’t regret enrolling this late because it somehow gives me advantage to digest the lecture more than just worrying on understanding the characters. 

My fellow students were sighing and were really having a hard time with the characters and pronunciation.  I am truly looking forward with the succeeding lessons.  There are 4 courses and this is just 1 of the 4 so I am wondering if after completing the entire course — I can be just like my teacher who is not even a Korean but could fluently speak and write well in Korean.

Learning Consonants

2007년 8월 31일  

한글 has few consonants compared to the English alphabet. I have been reading phrase books in the past few months and it seems they are true to their claim that almost every sound that an English word have can be written in 한글.  

Here are the first few consonants that I learned while doing self study.  The order may not be correct (similar to how we have been singing a-b-c)

ㅂ ㅈㄷㄱㅅㅁㄴㅇㄹㅎㅋㅌㅊㅍ

Of these characters ㅁㄴㅋㅌㅊㅍ are the less tricky in terms of reading.   The sound produced by these characters are written next to it ㅁ(m)  ㄴ (n) ㅋ(k)  ㅌ (t)  ㅊ (ch)   ㅍ (p). 

The rest have certain variation in pronunciation, i have encountered such in studying some phrases and words.   Take the case of ㅂ (the sound is between ‘p’ and ‘b’).  In some cases this letter is pronounced as ‘m’.  For example in the phrase:

 만나서 니다 (man-a-so  pan-gap-sum-ni-da) which translates as ‘Nice to meet you’, instead of pangapsupnida it is pronounced as pangapsumnida. ㅂ takes the ‘p’ sound rather than the ‘b’.

ㅈ is usually ‘j’ when pronounced as in ‘July’ but in some cases the sound is ‘ch’ as in ‘cherish’.  Like the word 잘 which means good or well in English, ㅈ is more of ‘j’ rathen than ‘ch’.  ㅈ sounds like ch in these samples:

  • 집 (chip) means house
  • 좀 (chom) means please
  • 제발 (chebal) means please or appointment

Vowels and Dipthongs

2007년 8월 30일  

The following characters are also considered as vowel in 한글, the sound is very similar to the ‘y’ sound which is a consonant in the alphabet:

ㅑ (ya) as in yak

ㅕ (yo)  as in yolk

ㅛ (yaw) as in yawn

ㅒ(yae) close to yale

ㅖ(ye) as in yesterday

ㅠ (yoo) as in yultide

In my advance reading, there is a concept of postpositioning in words when using in a sentence.  This is when a a character is added in a word to properly identify it as subject or object in a sentence.  The character to be added depends on the final character of the word if consonant or vowel.  So it’s important that these characters be remembered as vowel.

Word for the day is 어머니 (o-mo-ni) . This is how you call mothers in Korea.

Word Pattern and Basic Vowels

In most Korean books I read, the characters are discussed only after the common phrases are introduced. There may be a scientific explanation about this.  When I gained interest in learning Hangul, I immediately checked on the characters and its near equivalent to the alphabet.  Most books say you need to hear how the words are pronounced by native Korean speakers <this is another tough task–to find a native speaker> .  I must say I have memorized the characters at least the basic ones. 

ㅏ (a) as in ant

ㅓ (eo) as hot

ㅗ (aw) as in toe

ㅜ (oo) as in loo

ㅡ (u) short uh sound as in put

ㅣ (i) as in feet

ㅐ (ae) as in apple

ㅔ (e) as in pet

There are other vowels aside from these.  In fact they have more vowels than consonants.  From my readings words seemed to be formed by sound.

Word for the day starts with the ㅏ sound.  아버지 (a-beo-ji) means father.  Note that the word actually starts with the ㅇ  character which is actually classified as consonant in Hangul.  When i was doing initial self study I learned that the pattern per block is Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (C-V-C) and in some cases could be C-V-C-C.  I noticed that if the word has to start with a vowel sound, ㅇ  is present.  Then I learned that this character is actually silent in terms of pronunciation and will only have a sound if its used as final consonant in a word.  In such cases ㅇ  becomes ‘ng’ in sound such as the word 사랑 (sa-rang) then C-V-C pattern still applies.