The Three Faces of P

We already know this letter: p which is pronounced pretty much the way we pronounce the letter p. There’s some air behind it, but not much. It’s romanized as p or b, depending upon its sound..

This letter, p' has an extra-strength puff of air behind it. It’s always romanized as p.

In older versions of Korean romanization, this letter was romanized as p’; now it’s just p. This is why you really have to learn the alphabet, and cannot rely on Romanization. If you see the letter p in a Romanized word, you can’t tell if you have a p' or a p.

And this letter, pp has no air; it's the p of spin. Your throat sort of tightens up when you say it; the technical term for this is that the letter pp is glottalized. It is romanized as pp.

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