Hangul and Other Languages

Index



Hangul Romanizations

You may want to refer to the Hangul Alphabets for details on each alphabets.

There are serveral ways to represent Hangul in Roman alphabets. Since phonemes from two different languages cannot be the same, it's always tricky to come up with a system that can satisfy everyone.

One is by MunHwaGwanGwangBu (문화관광부 MunHwaGwanGwangBu / Ministry of Culture and Tourism) on July 7, 2000. Another is by the Korean Language Society (한글학회 HanGeulHakHoe) in 1984. ISO (ISO/TR 11941:1996) is another method. The ISO method actually contains two, one for North Korea (DPRK) and the other for South Korea (ROK).

There are other less used ones such as the Yale, Lukoff and Horne methods.

The thing is, with all these standard methods, people still come up with their own ways of writing, for example, their names. I had my own, but I will try to follow the MCT method as much as possible.

The MCT method has the following priciples.

  1. The romanization should follow the standard Korean pronunciation.
  2. The romanization should avoid using anything other than the roman alphabets (i.e., no accents).

I have additional rules based on the MCT methods.

  1. The sound can be ambiguous and I hate any punctuation inbetween, so the first character of each syllable can be capitalized, especially when it is uncommon or long (i.e., not "hangul").
  2. For proper nouns (e.g., a name of a person), it should respect how their owners (?) spelled them. This is actually specified in the MCT document, but I wanted to make it clear.

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Hangul Consonant Romanization Table

자음 MCT KLS ISO (ROK) ISO (DPRK)
G(1) / K(2) G G K
N N N N
D(1) / T(2) D D T
R(1)(5) / L(2) L R(1) / L(2) R(1) / L(2)
M M M M
B(1) / P(2) B B P
S S S S
none(3) / NG(4) none(3) / NG(4) none(3) / NG(4) none(3) / NG(4)
J J J C
CH CH C CH
K K K KH
T T T TH
P P P PH
H H H H
KK GG GG KK
TT DD DD TT
PP BB BB PP
SS SS SS SS
JJ JJ JJ CC
(1) Before a vowel.
(2) Before a consonant or as a final sound.
(3) As the first marker within a syllable box.
(4) As the final sound of a syllable.
(5) For "ㄹㄹ", it is written as "LL".

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Hangul Vowel Romanization Table

모음 MCT KLS ISO (ROK / DPRK)
A
AE
YA
YAE
EO
E
YEO
YE
O
WA
WAE
OE
YO
U
WO WEO WEO
WE
WI
YU
EU
UI EUI YI
I

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Hangul Representation of Foreign Words

There is also a set of rules for writing foreign language words in Hangul (외래어 표기법 OeRaeEo PyoGiBeop). The Ministry of Education (문교부 MunGyoBu, a previous incarnation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism) has such a rule published in January 7, 1986. This rule has the following basic principles.
  1. Only the modern set of Hangul jamo's should be used.
  2. One phoneme should be represented by only one symbol.
  3. For the final sounds, only the following is used: ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅇ.
  4. A plosive should not be represented by "thick sound" (된소리, i.e., ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ).
  5. Those foreign word representations that are already widely in use should be respected.

These tables use a version of International Phonetic Alphabets by the Internation Phonetic Association.

Anyway, the MOE's rules don't seem to be complete (e.g., it's missing "oo" for "foot"), but that will have to do here. Just try to match as closely as possible and that would be fine.

As you can easily notice, there are some English sounds that are not in Korean. So, for those cases, after double conversion, they might sound somewhat different. :) Here are some examples.

  • fork - 포크 - PoKeu / pork - 포크 - PoKeu
  • vie - 바이 - BaI / by - 바이 - BaI
  • thigh - 사이 - SaI / sigh - 사이 - SaI

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Consonant Hangul Table

IPA Hangul Examples
Before a vowel Before a consonant or as a final sound
p (3) / 프(4) pop 팝, stamp 스탬프, apple 애플, chipmunk 치프멍크
t (3) / 트(4) tent 텐트, cat 캣, nest 네스트, mattress 매트리스
k (3) / 크(4) cook 쿡, desk 데스크, sickness 시크니스
b bulb 벌브, lobster 로브스터
d bird 버드, door 도어
g gate 게이트, signal 시그널
s mask 마스크
z jazz 재즈
f(1) Stanford 스탠포드, chef 쉐프
v(1) view 뷰, valve 밸브
θ(1) thrill 스릴
ð(1) bathe 베이드
ʃ (5) 시 / 슈(6) flash 플래시, shrub 슈러브, shark 샤크
ʒ mirage 미라지, vision 비젼
ts Keats 키츠
dz odds 오즈
ʧ chart 차트, switch 스위치
ʤ virgin 버진, bridge 브리지
m mom 맘
n nun 넌
ŋ ink 잉크
ɲ campagne (French) 캉파뉴
l(2) (7) / ㄹㄹ(8) hotel 호텔, slide 슬라이드, film 필름, light 라이트
r(2) 르 / none(9) right 라이트, car 카
h host 호스트
ç  
χ  
(1) There are no such sounds for these in Korean, so these are approximated.
(2) There is no difference between [l] and [r]. Or more accurately speaking, Koreans don't hear the difference.
(3) When it ends after a short vowel or appears between a short vowel and a consonent other than these consonents: [l], [r], [m] and [n].
(4) When it ends after a long vowel or it appears between a short vowel and these consonents: [l], [r], [m] and [n].
(5) It changes according to the vowel following it: 샤, 섀, 셔, 셰, 쇼, 슈, and 시.
(6) When it appears before a consonent.
(7) When it is the final sound or is before a consonent and when it is between a nasal sound ([m] or [n]) and a vowel.
(8) When it is between a non-nasal sound and a vowel or is before a nasal sound that is not before a vowel.
(9) Although it has 르, if 'r' does not appear before a vowel, it will be ignored (more like the British 'r').

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Vowel Hangul Table

IPA Hangul Examples
i beet 비트
y rue (French) 뤼
e play 플레이
ø  
ɛ bet 벳
ɛ̃  
œ  
œ̃  
æ at 앳
a how 하우
ɑ car 카
ɑ̃  
ʌ but 벗
ɔ all 올
ɔ̃  
o boy 보이
u  
ə (1) about 어바웃
ɚ  
j 이 (half vowel)(2) yes 예스, yard 야드, yearn 연, you 유, year 이어, battalion 버텔리언, union 유니언
ɥ 위 (half vowel)  
w 오, 우 (half vowel)(3) word 워드, want 원트, woe 워, wander 완더, wag 왜그, west 웨스트, witch 위치, wool 울, swing 스윙, twist 트위스트, penguin 펭귄, whistle 휘슬, quarter 쿼터
(1) For German, it is written as 에. For French, it is written as 으.
(2) It combines with the following vowel to become 야, 얘, 여, 예, 요, 유, and 이. However, for [djə], [ljə] and [njə], it is written as 디어, 리어, and 니어.
(3) It combines with the following vowel to become 워 (for [wə], [wɔ] and [wou]), 와 (for [wɑ]), 왜 (for [wæ]), 웨 (for [we]), 위 (for [wi]), and 우 (for [wu]). When it follows a consonent, except for [gw], [hw], and [kw], it is written as two syllables.
(4) Long vowels are the same as the short ones (e.g. 파트 for "part").
(5) Compound vowels are written as a sequence of shorter vowels (e.g., "time" as 타임) except for [ou] as 오 (e.g., "boat" as 보트), and [auə] as 아워 (e.g., "hour" as 아워).

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Last updated: March 27, 2008
Created: February 6, 2004
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