Korean + English = Konglish Baby

Before baby comes...
...learning Korean and researching Korean-language resources in order to raise baby as a bilingual.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Exclamatory Korean Vowel

The Korean alphabet has 10 vowels and 11 more compound vowels (2 or more vowels put together). The main 10 have actually 4 sounds (ㅏㅓㅗㅜ). Add a "y" sound (and an extra - mark) and you have the corresponding 4 (ㅑㅕㅛㅠ). The last 2 (ㅡㅣ) are bonus. I love the symmetry and logic of the horizontal and vertical lines, don't you?

The transliterations/depictions/romanizations of the Korean vowels are often misleading. For example, the vowel ㅏ is depicted as "a" which could be thought of as "a" as in apple. So when you say, 가자 (let's go) like "ga-ja" you sound like the proverbial American-accented Korean. But if you said it, "gah-jah" then you could possibly sound somewhat more Korean.

Another example, the ㅓ vowel is often depicted as "eo" so 엄마 (mommy) is transliterated as "eomma" but it sounds more like "uhm-ma." To me, "eo" doesn't look like the "uh" sound. As in "uh...what the...?"

And actually, I've discovered most of our vowels have an equivalent sound in our English exclamatory vocabulary. Let me show you:

아 = "ah" as in "Ah! Ha!" or when the doctor puts a stick down your throat, say "ah"

어= "uh" as in "Uh...ok..."

오= "oh" as in "okay" or "OH!!! I didn't know that!"

우 = "oo" as in "oooooo....you're in trouble!! I'm telling!"

으 = "eu" as in "euuu...that's gross" (not EEW) or the "euuuu" that Lucy makes when Ricky learns that she snuck on the set to his show.

이 = "ee" as in when the dentist says to show him your front teeth.

====== Now, add the "y" sound to the first 4 vowels:

야 = "yah"

여 = "yuh"

요 = "yoh"

유 = "yoo"

========Now, all 10, in order:

아 = ah

야 = yah

어 = uh

여 = yuh

오 = oh

요 = yoh

우 = oo

유 = yoo

으 = eu

이 = ee

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