https://www.duolingo.com/ThorusCrusius

[Korean beta] Different vowels sound the same ( ㅙ wae , ㅚ oe) and eu ㅡ is strange

I know, this is beta, so good work, you've done and it's fun so far.

I've finished the first Alphabet trait and I got some difficulties when distinguishing ㅙ wae, ㅚ oe and ㅡ eu. The similar issue came up with the corresponding sounds with y~ and w~.

At first, I thought my ears or the notation system were bad. Then I looked up Hangul in the German Wikipedia and found out this (noted with the same system as in Duolingo):

Duolingo says

  1. wae ㅙ sounds /wɛ/
  2. oe ㅚ sounds /wɛ/ and
  3. eu sounds /ø/

German Wikipedia says

  1. wae ㅙ sounds /wɛ/
  2. oe ㅚ sounds /ø/ and
  3. eu ㅡ sounds /ɯ/.

I doubble-checked the English Wikipedia but there were no usable pronunciation hints.

And the French and Esperanto Wikipedia, each say again something different.

What's now correct?

October 21, 2017

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/joanfaulkner

I was totally confused about this, too. A few things that helped me:

  1. I found this website to be really helpful in hearing the differences (vowels are at the bottom): https://zkorean.com/hangul/appearance

  2. Also, the tips in the alphabet 1 lesson talk about how recent sound changes have made a couple of the vowels and dipthongs sound the same. Which made sense of the remaining similarities for me.

Hope it helps!

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ling.ko

German Wikipedia is correct.

By the way, nowadays at least for youngsters in South Korea ㅙ /wɛ/ , ㅞ/we/ and ㅚ /ø/ are no more distinguishable. They all merged as /wɛ/.

Formal romanizaiotn of Korean vowelㅓ/ʌ/ is eo, ㅡ /ɯ/ is eu. But Many people use different styles of romanization, most of which are somewhat influenced by English orthography. Koreans who spell their names using woo would be pronounced as 우 /u/.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ThorusCrusius

Thank you, things become very slowly clearer, slowly. I will check the ZKorean link. At first glance, it looks like the additional reading that I need to become more confident with the new sounds and charakters.

I've seen the course description but I was too focused on the letters, so I overlooked the parts with the recent vowel shifts. Thanks for pointing this out again. Koreans should stop with shifting until I've learnt the sounds lol.

In the meantime, I've discovered some videos that I will use alongside the DL course. If these may help others, here they are:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLttuDVvTDeVhGNiC0hM-jefxyYFuYjjbx

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsgBUobNGksxIKTagZayKEw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZhOeA0RD9o

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/LiKenun

I try to distinguish all the vowel sounds in speech:

  • /i/ ㅣ
  • /e/ ㅔ
  • /ɛ/ ㅐ ← difficult for me unless I focus
  • /a/ ㅏ
  • /ɯ/ ㅡ
  • /ʌ/ ㅓ
  • /u/ ㅜ
  • /o/ ㅗ
  • /je/ ㅖ
  • /jɛ/ ㅒ ← difficult for me unless I focus
  • /ja/ ㅑ
  • /jʌ/ ㅕ
  • /ju/ ㅠ
  • /jo/ ㅛ
  • /we/ ㅞ
  • /wɛ/ ㅙ ← difficult for me unless I focus
  • /wa/ ㅘ
  • /wʌ/ ㅝ
  • /wi/~/y/ ㅟ
  • /ø/ ㅚ
  • /ɯi/ ㅢ

…but I use it more as a tool for memorizing spelling than communication. The set of distinguishable vowels is usually smaller for contemporary Korean in Seoul:

  • /i/ ㅣ
  • /e/ ㅔ, ㅐ
  • /a/ ㅏ
  • /ɯ/ ㅡ
  • /ʌ/ ㅓ
  • /u/ ㅜ
  • /o/ ㅗ
  • /je/ ㅖ, ㅒ
  • /ja/ ㅑ
  • /jʌ/ ㅕ
  • /ju/ ㅠ
  • /jo/ ㅛ
  • /we/ ㅞ, ㅙ, ㅚ
  • /wa/ ㅘ
  • /wʌ/ ㅝ
  • /wi/ ㅟ
  • /ɯi/ ㅢ

I cannot actually hear the difference between /ɛ/ and /e/ unless I’m focused on picking out the difference.

As with all other resources online, the sounds you find on any site should probably be used as a rough guide and not an exact description of what a vowel sounds like as there are variations from speaker to speaker.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ThorusCrusius

true, the sounds you find are only approximations. With Korean, I feel that even the almighty IPA-sounds (or its little part that I know) sometimes do not cover Korean completely. Especially with 으 /eu/. So, I guess there is no other way than hearing several native speakers (what one should always do, anyway). That's tough if you only know 10 vowels and 5 consonants.

/ɛ/ and /e/ can be best distinguished when you directly hear one after another (but not a computer voice). If you do it often, you'll be trained to identify which is which.

October 21, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ling.ko

IPA [e] is half closed vowel and [ɛ] is half open. Korean /ㅔ/ and /ㅐ/ are not as closed as IPA [e] or german /e/ (ex: gehen ). I prefer to write them using [ɛ].

October 22, 2017
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