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Is there a difference between the pronunciation of 개 (dog) versus 게 (crab)? Or do you just have to use context to know which one is being spoken about?

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    야, 게 먹으러 갈까? (Hey, why don't we go grab some "crabs?") / 뭐? 개를 먹자고? (What? Did you just say "dogs?") / 아니, 게 말야. 아이 말고 어이. (No, I mean crabs; Eo-i one, not A-i.) Oct 6 '17 at 17:58
  • There's a very very small difference in pronunciation between 개 and 게. But you just have to use context.
    – SweetSweet
    Oct 8 '17 at 5:34
  • ㅔ sounds [e] and ㅐ sounds [ae]. However, phonetic values of those two vowels are getting less distinguishable in these days.
    – jungyh0218
    Oct 11 '17 at 8:43
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In theory (the "Standard" Korean language), there's a difference. In practice, there isn't.

On the other hand, if there's no context (e.g., "개/게 먹으러 갈까?", where both interpretation would make sense), since people "know" that they should sound different, they may exaggerate the difference to disambiguate. Then the vowel in 개 would move closer to ㅏ (somewhat similar to American English "cat"), and the vowel in 게 would move closer to ㅣ with more flattened lips.

Or they could just "spell it out": "아이" (ㅐ) or "어이" (ㅔ).

So if you can't hear the difference in a casual conversation, don't worry: it's perfectly normal.

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  • There's definitely a difference in pronunciation of '개' vs '게'.
    – Memming
    Oct 4 '17 at 11:23
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Yes. 개 is pronounced by wider opened mouth than 게 is.

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