Hangul Alphabet (Memorization Tip)

korean-alphabet

Although most “Learning Korean” books and sites will teach you the characters in a different order based on usage rate ~ there is an actual official “order” or alphabet for Hangul.  

Now, in English and Spanish each letter has a special “name.”  For example “G” is called ‘GEE’ in the English Alphabet and “S” is called ‘ESS’.  Similarly, “L” is called “ele” in Español.  

Well the Consonants in Korean will actually have special names too!  They are included in the picture above, but here they are again:

  • Giyeok (ㄱ)
  • Ssang Giyeok (ㄲ)
  • Nien (ㄴ)
  • Diget (ㄷ)
  • Ssang Diget (ㄸ)
  • Riel (ㄹ)
  • Miem (ㅁ)
  • Biep (ㅂ)
  • Ssang Biep (ㅃ)
  • Shiot (ㅅ)
  • Ssang Shiot (ㅆ)
  • Ieng (ㅇ)
  • Jiet (ㅈ)
  • Ssang Jiet (ㅉ)
  • Chiet (ㅊ)
  • Kiuet (ㅋ)
  • Tiet (ㅌ)
  • Piep (ㅍ)
  • Hiet (ㅎ)

Now, when I first saw this, my thought was “(insert curse word) – more memorization.”  My second thought was “O Thank God!” when I figured out the pattern to these names 😛

So, if you’ve been studying Korean for a while, you know that most of these characters actually have TWO sounds.  For example  tends to sound like a “G” at the beginning and a “K” at the end.  Whereas  sounds like the same breathy “T” no matter where you put it. Now go back and look at the first and last letters for their names – “Giyeok” and “Tiet”  0_0  The first and last letter matches the sound it makes in that position!!  If you go back, you’ll find that all the letters do this.  

  • Piep (ㅍ)
  • Nien (ㄴ)
  • Diget (ㄷ)

Hiet.png

So here are the rules I use to help me memorize the Korean Consonants:

  • The first and last letters will always be the first and last sounds the letter makes. SIMPLE! 🙂
  • The double consonants will have the same name with “ssang” in front. Example: Ssang Diget (ㄸ) SIMPLE! 🙂
  • USUALLY, the middle is “ie.”  For example: Piep (ㅍ) and Nien (ㄴ).  Even “Ieng (ㅇ)” follows this rule because the character is silent + ie + ng.  The ONLY exceptions are:
    • Giyeok (ㄱ)
    • Diget (ㄷ)
    • Shiot (ㅅ)
    • Kiuet (ㅋ)

So actually, since I already know how to pronounce the characters in a word, all I had to memorize was “ssang” for doubles, “ie” for the middle, and the 4 exceptions.  Which took like 5 minutes to learn.  

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