The tensed consonant letters are interesting, because these emerged from consonant clusters like ㅳ, ㅄ, and ㅴ. Many of these clusters became simplified over the centuries causing spelling confusion among those writing in native Korean, which had not been standardized in any way. By the time the Japanese had started becoming involved in shaping the Korean language, many of these tensed consonants were written with ㅅ (such as ㅺ, ㅼ, ㅽ). But the ㅅ sound had disappeared from those clusters already, leaving a tensed version of the second sounds in the clusters.
Since Korean is the only language which strictly distinguishes tensed consonants from plain and aspirated ones, a lot of research has been poured into analyzing the nature of tensed consonants. One paper (A Moraic Account of Korean Tense Consonants by Agustina Carando) argues that they are really geminates (long consonants) which can be found in a lot of languages like Italian and Japanese.
English, interestingly, also has an equivalent to tensed consonants, albeit not phonemic. The word spin has a tensed p. The word skin has a tensed k. The word sting has a tensed t. If you subtract the s sound like the Koreans did, you end up with tensed consonants.
ㅂ does not represent [b]. Instead, Korean has 3 p:
- plain p (ㅂ)
- aspirated pʰ (ㅍ)
- tensed p͈ (ㅃ)
Between vowels, the plain form is voiced to [b]. This pattern extends to all of the other stop consonants as well.
Brought over from this Duolingo forum thread: Is ㅂ a B or P?
It's closer to "bobo." Usually, a single "ㅂ" would sound like a "b" with a slight "p" sound. However, double consonants are different- They are strictly that letter. Therefore, "ㅃ" would sound strongly of a "b." (Add the "ㅗ"s which sound like an "oh" would complete it, making it pronounced as "boh-boh.") I'm not quite sure if that made sense, but I hope it did... Good luck with your learning! :) (One more thing, 보보 would still be "bobo" with a slight hint of the "p" sound. 포포 would soundly strictly of "p"s with no "b"s. Okay, I'm overcomplicating this. You get the point, I hope.)
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