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Sometimes I could not hear the initial "h" sound in the character ㅎ. For example, when I learned a word 회전 (rotation) in Memrise today, it sounds like "we-jheon", and I could not hear any "h" sound.

(It is in the course "2000 Essential Korean Words for Beginners", if you want to know. The link is here but I forgot where the word is...)

However, when I tried hearing the same word in Google Translate, there was clearly the "h" sound.

That said, it happened in other words as well. When the word starts with ㅎ, sometimes I could not hear the "h" sound.

Is this regional variation or only me? Or possibly just a recording issue? It is very difficult to hear them apart at the elementary phase of language learning...

  • I clearly hear the ㅎ sound from the 41th file found here. Nonetheless, it is a good question for language learners. I think that English and Korean speakers hear the ㅎ sound somewhat differently, but I have no resources that can support my idea. – Klmo Aug 11 at 12:56
  • @Klmo How did you find the file? I think what we are talking about is different. What I meant is a language course on Memrise, which coincidently has the same file name as your link. It is a course just with vocabulary. I'll add the link. – Blaszard Aug 11 at 13:08
  • "2000 Essential Korean Words for Beginners" is a book, so the publisher usually provides the audio files. I have found the link on the publisher's website. – Klmo Aug 11 at 13:12
  • I do not think we are talking about different things. The Memrise course image is just part of the book cover. Can you add the link for the audio file? – Klmo Aug 11 at 13:21
  • If what you heard was made by a TTS (text-to-speech) engine, it might have given you wrong sounds. Then, the question should relate to real and synthesized audios. Because I do not use Memrise, I cannot confirm whether Memrise uses recorded audios. – Klmo Aug 11 at 13:50
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No, you should not omit ㅎ at the beginning of a word: You may refer to the table here (어두 means the beginning of a word; 그대로 means as it is). Your experience suggests that we should not use flawed flashcards.


Her wrong pronunciation for 회전 (that sounds like 외잔) and some other words indirectly shows that her native language is English (or another language that is not Korean), since, for example, a British pronunciation of Hwang Ho is ˈwæŋ ˈhəʊ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA); her ㅓ does not sound like Korean ㅓ.

Some recordings of the correct pronunciation for 회전 can be found here.

Google Translate should not be trusted because it often provides the wrong transcription and sometimes the wrong audio (and even mistranslation).

  • I usually don't hear to google translate tts, but I think wrong audio is rare: mistranslation is everywhere. Nowadays it became better, but never, never believe KO-EN google translation. – LegenDUST Aug 13 at 10:10
  • Google Translate TTS lacks natural tones. Your mimicking its tones makes people think: "You sound like a machine." Their TTS engine even misinterprets some words to give the wrong sounds. For simple common words, mistranslation is less often found; thoughts on this must differ. – Klmo Aug 13 at 13:01

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