Hangeul step 1
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Welcome. Unlike Japanese and Chinese, the basics of the Korean script can be learned in a matter of hours. The only way to accurately pronounce Korean words is to use the Korean script. English and Korean do not have perfectly matching sounds, so using Romanization is mostly a bad idea. We have laid out a 6 step lesson plan and have employed various methods to help others learn the Korean script quickly and effectively. This is a joint project between the Korean Wiki Project and TalktomeinKorean.com. We have been looking for the right voices to represent the Hangeul sounds and they volunteered their time to move this project forward. We are very thankful for their effort and help.
As of 2/17/10, we recommend you finish Step 3, take the quiz and stop at Step 4. Step 5 and Step 6 are still under construction and are in the process of being modified. A Step 7 will also be created in the future to help you with advanced pronunciation.
If you have any issues, feedback or confusion related to this section, please leave a comment here. (You don't need to create an account to comment.)
See full article at The Origin of Hangeul
Hangeul was introduced under Sejong the Great and finished around 1444. Up until and even after that time, Chinese characters were used as the written language, limiting reading and writing to the royal and government elite. King Sejong wanted Korea to have its own script that could be easily learned by anyone--even commoners. After its creation, Hangeul was said to be easy enough to learn that a wise man could finish it in the morning and a fool could finish it by night. For this reason there was opposition to Hangeul for a time by Korean aristocrats, believing only those of social superiority should have the privilege of learning to read and write.
Ever since Hangeul was first introduced, it went through many phases of refinement. Korean went through a large reformation during the Japanese colonization in the early 1900's, removing many of the now-archaic letters and changing several rules.
Korean is very different from other Asian languages in that it uses letters that are arranged in character form. Just like English, letters are classified as either consonants or vowels.
The letters for the consonants fall into five groups, each with a basic shape and one or more letters derived from this shape by means of additional strokes. The basic shapes represent the positions of the tongue, palate, teeth, and throat when making these sounds. The consonant clusters are not common and can only appear in the bottom position of a syllable.
- Simple: ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅇ, ㅈ, ㅎ
- Tense (or stressed) consonants or glottalized (written as two simple, identical consonants and involve tensing of the involved speech organs): ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ
- Aspirated (blowing more air than the simple consonant on which it is based): ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ
- Consonant clusters (containing two unrelated consonants): ㄳ, ㄵ, ㄶ, ㄺ, ㄻ, ㄼ, ㄽ, ㄾ, ㄿ, ㅀ, ㅄ
Korean vowels cannot be written by themselves and must be written with a consonant. If just a vowel sound is made in a syllable, the consonant "ㅇ" acts as a silent placeholder for the consonant position. Why does Korean require a consonant be written with vowel? Think of the ying and the yang concept. So for example, in order to make the ㅏ sound in an actual word, it must be written as 아 where ㅇ is the silent consonant which acts as the placeholder for the consonant.
- Simple vowels: ㅏ, ㅓ, ㅗ, ㅜ, ㅡ, ㅣ
- Iotized (Adds a 'y' sound): ㅑ, ㅕ, ㅛ, ㅠ
- Dipthongs (combinations, usually adding a 'w' sound): ㅐ, ㅒ, ㅔ, ㅖ, ㅚ, ㅟ, ㅢ, ㅘ, ㅝ, ㅙ, ㅞ
The easiest way to describe the structure of Hangeul is that of its being a combination of both a letter-based system of writing, like the language of English, and a character-based system of writing like Chinese. Korean syllables are organized into blocks of letters that have a beginning consonant (called Cho (Hangeul: needed)), a middle vowel (called Jung (Hangeul: needed)), and an optional end consonant (called the batchim (Hangeul: 빋침)). A syllable block has a minimum of two letters, consisting of one consonant and one vowel.
- ㄱ + ㅏ = 가
- ㄴ + ㅜ + ㄴ = 눈
Possible Syllable Combinations
Now, we are going to start learning some letters (jamo (Hangeul: needed))!