Reviewing Nouns and Pronouns

I started answering exercises of lesson 5…it’s getting difficult but challenging at the same time.   In this type of self study repetition surely will reinforce learning.  So i am probably going to read this lesson over and over. This lesson is understanding nouns and the subject and topic marker in a Korean sentence.  Also the copula -이에요 (i-e-yo) or just -에요(e-yo) is introduced, a special noun ending which is similar to saying that is.  The negative copula is also discussed which is 아니에요.

One has to expand his vocabulary indeed and has to be mindful on how to address second person or third person.  The book suggest minimal use of the word you as Korean do not use this word often.  너 and 당신 corresponds to you the first one is for intimate conversation (someone you know well and within your age) while the other one is used between couples.  To refer someone as ‘you’, it is always best to use the full name or surnmae + 씨 (sshi).  So in the case of my friends name 백진명 (Baek JinMyung), it will be 백진명씨 or 진명씨.  Better yet to use the person’s title + 님(nim) an honorrific marker. For example 선생 (son-saeng) is title used for teachers it is polite already to address them this way but it would be honorrific to add 님 as such it will be 선생님 (son-saeng-nim).  선생님 is also used to address Mr.

I on the other hand has many forms in 한글. These are ways to say I (also could mean my or mine depending on the sentence):

  • 나,내, 나는 – this is the less formal one but still polite, 내 is the form when I is subject and is mentioned for the first time, 나는 is the form when I is topic or if subject but is presented as an old information.
  • 저 – is the humble form for I.  제가 is the form when it placed before special particle 이 or 가.
  •  제, 제가 – actually means my or mine depending on the sentence. 

There will be cases when sentence calls for the use of pronoun ‘we’ or ‘our’, in 한글 its 우리 (oo-ri).


Particles 이~가

In all the English-Korean dictionaries I read, I always notice that words are not in the ‘base form’.  I am still figuring out why the original form of the word is not used in a conversation instead its the base form.  Maybe I am too ‘English centric’ with root word concept in mind. 

Another surprising learning that I got is the use of particles in sentence construction.  Maybe another ‘English-centric’ thinking is that verbs change their form to indicate when the action happened… same goes with noun to indicate if plural or singular.   In all the 한글 writings I have seen, by observation on patterns I am inclined to think that 이 is one of the most abused or overly used character.  It turns out that this character block plays an important role in their writing.  The particles 이and 가 indicates if a word is a subject of the sentence.  In most cases nouns are subjects of sentences as such nouns in most cases will be encountered with any of these particles added.  If the subject ends with vowel it is followed by the particle 가 and if consonant its 이.

This is an example:

그 사람 한극사람이에요 (That person is Korean)

그 잡지영어에요 (That is newspaper is in English)

But there is a rule on the use of this particle.  If the same subject is used as subject again in the suceeding sentence, another particle will be used which is 은 or 는. The trivia is, this is actually a topic marker and not a subject marker.

Say it Right…

I am at Chapter 4 of the book Elementary Korean. It’s getting exciting to read.  I am just adjusting on the pronunciation guide.  I like this Chapter because it seeks to explain some of the rules in pronouncing 한글characters. 

Two sounds in one character.  ㅂ,ㄱ, ㄹ andㄷ have dual sounds, chapter 4 of the Elementary Korean provided some rules on when ㅂ is pronounced ‘b’ or ‘p’ just like ㄱ can be ‘g’ or ‘k’.  But there is more to that in terms of pronunciation in 한글.

In my previous readings, I am confused when 것 (thing) is romanized as k-o-t when it should have been k-o-s.  This is where the basic pronunication will apply.  There is this rule on pronouncing final consonants of a word.  Only words ending in the following consonants can be pronounced or released ㄹ,ㅁ,ㄴand ㅇ like the following examples:

  • 물 water (mool)
  • 식당 restaurant (shik-tang)
  • 가 슴 chest (kasum)
  • mawn (window)

There is an exception for these characters ㅂ,ㄷ and ㄱ.  Its sound can be released BUT the word should be followed by a particle or a special verb -이에요 (i-e-yo).   Otherwise the consonant sound stay on the nose as if being swallowed (therefore not releasing it)…. this is really hard.   Sound of the other consonants is reduced as follows:

  • ㅂ,ㅍ,ㅃ —-> ㅂ (p)
  • ㄷ,ㅌ,ㅅ,ㅆ,ㅈ,ㅉ,ㅊ —-> ㄷ (t)
  • ㄱ,ㄲ,ㅋ —-> ㄱ (k)

Now I can say ㄷ is such a powerful character in terms of sound just imagine the sounds of all the characters that it can replace.  This is going to be tough thing to remember especially when you are seeing all 한글. 

The Other Vowels – Dipthongs Part 2

There are other vowels in 한글 that i find complicated.  These are combinations of two vowels to form the sound starting ‘w’. There many combinations but these so far are the common to me:

  • ㅘ – sounds like ‘wa’ of want
  • ㅝ – sounds like ‘wo’ of won’t
  • ㅞ -sounds like ‘we’ weather
  • ㅢ -sounds like ‘wi’ winner

There are Korean words I encountered with these characters  specially on names.  One of my language exchange partner is name 지원 (Jee-won).  One of my favorite songs of se7en is 와줘 (Wa-juo) which is translated as ‘comeback’.

Other Consonants

2007년 9월 02일  

This is another difference of 한글 with the English alphabet.  There are consonants which are represented by 2 characters.  These are as follows:

  • ㅃ (pp) – my korean friend thought me one word which happens to start in this character, 빨리 (ppal-le) which means quickly.
  • ㄸ (tt) – i have encountered a word that uses this character from a phrase I have learned. 봐요 (tto bwoa-yo)  which means see you again or see you later.
  • ㄲ (kk)
  • ㅆ (ss) – in the phrase I previously wrote in this blog this character has been featured. 수고하 어요 (su-go-ha-kyo-sso-yo) which means ‘well done’.

At this point i really won’t be able to recognize the difference of this double character against the single one.  Based on my readings these characters when pronounced are tensed and unaspirated (not much air is released unlike the single character).

There are two other consonants that I find interesting in 한글.   These are ㅎ and ㅇ.  Previously i have discussed ㅇ which is silent or no sound when placed at start of syllable block.  This however becomes ‘ng’ in sound when placed as final consonant of a syllable block such as the word 식당 (shik-tang) or restaurant.

I find this character very Korean ㅎ it looks like a man with a hat to me.  In fact the word Korean and Hangul starts with this character spelled  as 한극 and 한글 respectively. This is represented with sound ‘h’. 

Learning Consonants Part 2

2007년 9월 01일  

Still on the consonants with dual pronounciation (this is my own term for these 한글characters) ㄷ,ㄱ and ㅅ are included.  ㄷ is pronounced ‘t’ as in the word take or ‘d’ as in the word date.  In one of my favorite songs from Se7en, 와줘 (Come Back), the phrase  돌아와줘 is often heard note that is  pronounced as (do-ra-wa-juo) while ㄷ sounds like ‘t’ in 도로 (taw-raw).

In English the letter ‘k’ will never be mistaken as ‘g’ but in Korean, the sound of ㄱ is similar to the sound produced in the letter ‘k’ and ‘g’ as in the word kite and game respectively.  In one of the books I read, ㄱ awhen at the beginning of a word, should be romanized as  ‘g’ based on the recent government imposed standards on translating 한글 in English alphabet.

ㅅ also has a tricky pronounciation.  In most cases it sounds like ‘s’ as in the word soup. However, if the vowel next to it is ㅣ it should be pronounced as ‘sh’ like the word 식당 which mean restaurant (shiktang).  ㅅ is treated as ‘t’ in some cases where it is a final consonant like the number 3 which 셋 (set) 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