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GRE Vocabulary List 2011

2010/12/29 Lapinski English

In a few days we will be enjoying a new year. For those of you looking for GRE vocabulary lists for 2011, you are at the right place – I have been organizing more GRE vocabulary lists. Check out 44-word Warm-up Quiz, 66 Words Wise People Know, and GRE Vocabulary Power (1-1) before you search elsewhere. For the impatience, quiz yourself here, here and here. If you would like to print your flashcards for review, click here, here and here.

You may always create your own vocabulary list after you create an account. You will be able to keep track of your vocabulary quiz results and so forth. Otherwise, you are still always welcome to browse our available GRE vocabulary lists. Good luck to your GRE test preparation!

Easy Ways to Memorize Korean Hangul – Vowels

2010/12/22 Lapinski Korean

Please study Easy Ways to Memorize Korean Hangul – Beginning Consonants if you haven’t done so.

In general, it is not a good idea to use Latin alphabets to represent the sounds of Korean vowels, because except for a few of them, such as or , you will most probably not be able to pronounce the vowels correctly simply by looking at the romanization. Try to pronounce eu and listen to and you will know what I am talking about.

So how can you learn? An alternative way is to “map” the vowels to some simple words in English which (closely) share the sounds. Again it will not work for all vowels, but at least we can have most of the vowels covered this way.


When you pronounce and , make sure your mouth is wide open. Consider the vertical stroke as the length of the gap between your lips. When you pronounce , make your lips rounded and stick out your lips as much as you can. Think of the T shape as how you look at your lips from the top. For , it is Spanish o or French eau, if you know Spanish or French (which I have never learned). The difference between and is that you keep your lips rounded when pronouncing , but you lower your jaw and open your mouth when you pronounce .

The last simple Korean vowel has no equivalence in English. When you pronounce , keep your lips unrounded (like the shape of the horizontal stroke). If you start with , which you shouldn’t have a problem to pronounce, move your tongue back slightly and keep your lips straight, you should be pronouncing . Try it out with our recording function when you are ready to do so.

Complex Vowels

Technically, complex vowels are called diphthongs which consist of semi-vowels (y or w) before the main vowels. It is straight forward to identify the y-type complex vowels, as they usually have 2 short strokes attached to the single long stroke.

The last complex vowel, , is quite tricky, not only that it doesn’t have 2 short strokes on a long stroke, but also that it can be pronounced in 3 different ways. When it is at the beginning of a word, such as 의사 (doctor), it is pronounced as + . However, when it is used to represent the possessive suffix, it is pronounced as . When it is neither a word-initial nor a possessive suffix, such as 거의 (almost), it is pronounced as .

For w-type complex vowels, it is simply a combination of or (for the “w” sound) and the main vowel. There is one exception though: is not a combination of “w” and , but instead, a combination of “w” and . As a result, even with different spellings, , and essentially denote the same pronunciation.

The choice of or may look random, but the rule is that you can’t combine bright vowels with dark vowels. The vowel classification (as bright and dark) is important for verb and adjective conjunction in Korean, but for now you can simply take it as a fact that and are bright vowels, and are dark vowels, and is considered neutral. As a result, you can see from the above table, is the only case which may combine with both (a bright vowel) or (a dark vowel) to form a complex vowel.

Learn Korean Hangul »

Easy Ways to Memorize Korean Hangul – Beginning Consonants

2010/12/18 Lapinski Korean

It may be a daunting task to memorize a random combination of lines and circles when you first try to learn Korean hangul, but once you understand the “design” of the pictorial characters, you may pick up the pronunciations of the characters way more easily.

First and foremost, for the sound g. Its shape is a side view of the tongue with the back of the tongue raised, you can imagine that’s how your tongue is shaped when you pronounce g.

Next, for the sound n. Again, its shape is a side view of the tongue when the tip of the tongue is raised to pronounce n.

When you pronounce d, you not only need to have the tip of your tongue raised, but have it released after that. The mnemonic is to put a stroke on top of to make it for the d sound.

For the sound r or l, extend the lines on top of to make it .

For the sound m, you close your mouth when you pronounce it. So you close the gap in to make it .

For the sound b, you close and then open your mouth when you pronounce it. So you extend from both sides to make it .

Next, for the sound s, it is something you need to use your teeth to pronounce. It is written as . I don’t get to know any good mnemonics for this one, so please leave me a comment if you come up with one…

For the sound j, it is also a sound “with teeth,” so put a stroke on top of to make it .

For , just think of it as a zero, so it represents no beginning consonant. But make sure you know it represents the nasal sound ng when it is an ending consonant. In this case, think of it as a circle, so it is related to the nasal sound m represented by the rectangular .

So we covered the basic jamo. For the aspirated sounds (which you need to make sure air is ejected from your mouth when you pronounce them), they are just modified from the non-aspirated counter-parts:

It is trivial to memorize the “doubles,” namely , , , and . Just make sure you raise your pitch to pronounce them if you cannot distinguish the difference between them and their basic counter-parts.

Learn Korean Hangul »

Stroke Order of Korean Hangul

Since I added the handwriting feature to the website a month ago, a lot of you have dragged your mouse and created some beautifully shaped pictorial characters for the site. I am not a big fan of insisting writing in the correct stroke order, but still, as the one who builds a language learning website with East Asian languages, I think I am responsible for pointing out the general rules of how to write Asian characters in the correct stroke order.

Written hangul follows the rules of Chinese calligraphy. The basic rules are: left to right, top to bottom, and outside in. There are some areas that even native writers may not agree with each other, but if you randomly start writing a vertical straight line bottom up, then I doubt if many native writers will appreciate your creativity.

Let’s take a look at how to write each of the consonant jamo of hangul. Pay special attention to how , and are written. When you are done with consonants, go to page 2 to see the stroke order of vowels.

Learn Korean Hangul »

7 Days to Learn 20 Japanese Kanji Characters

2010/12/17 Lapinski Japanese

It is always a nightmare for Japanese beginning learners to pick up kanji. It is hard, but I am trying to be more encouraging here… Yes, you can memorize 20 kanji in 7 days! And if you are persistent to do so over a period of, say, a year, then you can pick up 1000 kanji in a year!

But before being too ambitious, let’s be realistic and try to make a commitment in the next 7 days first. 7 days to memorize the pronunciations and meanings of 20 pictorial characters with random lines shouldn’t be too hard, right? There are quite a few free resource online that you may find useful, but the most important thing is still… get started now.

I compiled a list of 20 Japanese kanji. It is chosen from the first 80 kanji of level 5 JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) learning materials, pronunciations and meanings not crucial for the beginners are removed. You may print flashcards for your review, and quiz yourself when you are ready to do so.

If you would like to practice writing or pronouncing one of the kanji characters in the list, simply click on the links below:

Remember to sign up for an account before you take a quiz. We will have detailed statistics to keep track of what you have learned. Of course you may also create your own vocabulary list if you are a member.

Please let me know if you have any questions and/or suggestions. Thanks!

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