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Lectures 15: Writing English Phonetically with Hangul
oreans sometimes write English with Korean characters, which can serve a valuable purpose. Just as many Americans in Korea can read Daejeon but not on a road sign, Koreans who cannot read or speak English need a way to refer to such things as the names of foreign movies. Thus the movie Philadelphia is Koreanized as , which Koreans understand. However, it fails in oral communication with a non-Korean. is incomprehensible to native speakers of English because the English ph is /f/, not /p/, and the vowels of the second and last syllables, //, differ dramatically from the strong /a/.
Although writing English with Korean characters has little value for pronunciation, middle and high school students may use Korean characters to write English they have to memorize. They may begin to believe that English sounds can be accurately captured with Korean sounds. However, Korean has no syllable-final /b/, /g/, / /, /s/, or / /, and it has no /f/, /v/, //, // or /z/ at all. Further, /r/ and /l/ are problematic. Equating , a strong vowel, with the weak schwa kills the rhythm of English. Finally, using to break up consonant strings destroys English syllables. English pronunciation is very different from Korean pronunciation, so the Korean alphabet is a poor tool for understanding how English is spoken.