Pronunciation Problems


Proper pronunciation can make as much difference as the comma contrasting meanings: “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma”. While pronouncing things the wrong way sometimes can change the meaning of a sentence, it can also just make me sound more like a beginner and less like the fluent person I’m pretending to be.

You also don’t know that you’re doing or saying something wrong until someone tells you – this is the peril of self-taught language learning.

Korean follows a few pronunciation rules that help immensely and make reading and speaking far easier and more native-sounding. I didn’t know about most of them until I began taking Korean at my university; one of our most important lessons was based solely on how to pronounce words properly. Does the previous sound carry over? If this sound comes before this, do they delete the first sound and only make the second one?

The answer is yes.

I remember being really confused for a while when I would watch and listen very closely when our 선생님 (Korean teacher) would mutter to herself when putting us into groups or taking attendance. Why? Because she would count us off in twos…But it didn’t sound right.

“둘, 넷, 여…” It sounded like “deu…let, yeo….”

Deullet? But the words for 2 and 4 are deul, net.

Ahhh but there’s a pronunciation rule where ㄹ comes before ㄴ and makes it like a ㄹㄹ sound. When I made the connection, I felt both very stupid and very smart at the same time. I doubt anyone else was paying attention to her Korean mutterings while pairing us off, but for me, it certainly paid off.

Another time, I figured out why 2NE1 sings 내가 제일 잘 나가 (I am the Best) and their pronunciation is “naega jeil jal-laga” rather than “…jal naga”.

Same rule again.

Pronunciation rules make life so much easier. They’re just not that interesting to memorize.

Do you pronounce things correctly? ……….Are you sure? And have you had any funny realizations/mispronunciations? Leave a comment below^^



And…what I’m listening to…


4 thoughts on “Pronunciation Problems

    • If you can read 한글, the lyrics are “내가 제일 잘 나가” which can be romanized as “naega jeil jal naga.” The pronunciation sounds like “내가 제일 잘라가” or “naega jeil jallaga” because ㄹ + ㄴ (L/R sound + N sound) becomes a ㄹㄹ (L sound) when spoken. Another example of this sort of pronunciation rule would be the phrase often heard after one takes a photo: “잘 나왔네요.” The phrase means, “Wow, that came out well” or more naturally in English, just “Nice picture.” Its pronunciation is “잘라왔네요” with the ㄹ at the end of 잘 and the ㄴ at the beginning of 나왔네요 transforming into a double ㄹ sound.

      I hope this was helpful! Thank you for your comment and let me know if I can help you with any other pronunciations^^


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