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.

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