Stacking Syllables

Here’s how these syllables from the previous page are pronounced:

ma ha na

The last two syllables form an actual Korean word: 하나 which means “one.” It’s pronounced ha-na, as you probably already guessed. (Note: when we write Korean words in English letters, we’ll separate the syllables with dashes.)

Here’s another consonant: It's pronounced somewhere between the k in king and the g in guess.

This tutorial will follow the Korean government’s official guidelines for romanization (writing Korean words with a Latin alphabet). These guidelines are based on the standard Korean pronunciation of the letters rather than a simple letter-to-letter correspondence. That means we’ll use the letter g for the Romanized version of this consonant when it takes that sound, and k when that’s the sound you would normally hear.

We can use this consonant to write the Korean word for a persimmon: “gam.” It’s a one-syllable word, but if we put all its sounds next to each other we won't have a square box any more: 가ㅁ

This problem can be solved: we stack up the and on top of the so that it all fits into a square box:

So, learning the Korean alphabet becomes a matter of learning the letters and learning how to stack them up into a square box.

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