The phonology of the standard Korean
The 21 vowels
The 10 short vowels
- ㅏ as in 아이 (“child”) [ɐ.i]
- ㅓ as in 어디 (“where”) [ʌ.di]
- ㅗ as in 오이 (“cucumber”) [o̞.i]
- ㅜ as in 우리 (“we”) [u.ɾi]
- ㅡ as in 그 (“that” or “he”) [kɯ]
- ㅣ as in 이마 (“forehead”) [i.ma]
- ㅐ as in 해 (“the sun”) [he̞]
- ㅔ as in 누에 (“silkworm”) [nu.e̞]
- ㅚ as in 쇠 (“iron”) [s⁽ʰ⁾ø]
- ㅟ as in 위 (“top”) [y]
The short vowels (left) and their long versions (right)
- ㅏ as in 말 (“horse”) [mɐl] & 말 (“speech”) [mɐːl]
- ㅓ as in 벌 (“punishment”) [p⁽ʰ⁾ʌl] & 벌 (“bee”) [p⁽ʰ⁾ɘːl]
- ㅗ as in 보리 (“barley”) [p⁽ʰ⁾o̞.ɾi] & 보수 (“reward”) [p⁽ʰ⁾oː.su]
- ㅜ as in 눈 (“eye”) [nun] & 눈 (“snow”) [nuːn]
- ㅡ as in 어른 (“adult”) [ɘː.ɾɯn] & 음식 (“food”) [ɯːm.ɕik̚]
- ㅣ as in 시장 (“hunger”) [ɕi.dʑaŋ] & 시장 (“market”) [ɕiː.dʑaŋ]
- ㅐ as in 태양 (“the sun”) [tʰɛ.jaŋ] & 태도 (“attitude”) [tʰɛː.do]
- ㅔ as in 베개 (“pillow”) [p⁽ʰ⁾e.ɡɛ] & 베다 (“to cut”) [p⁽ʰ⁾eː.da]
- ㅚ as in 교회 (“church”) [k⁽ʰ⁾ʲoː.ɦwe ~ k⁽ʰ⁾ʲoː.ɦø] & 외투 (“outerwear”) [weː.tʰu ~ øː.tʰu]
- ㅟ as in 위로 [y.ɾo ~ ɥi.ɾo] & 귀리 (“oat”) [kyː.ɾi ~ kɥiː.ɾi]
Short vowels with the semivowels [j] and [w] (another 10 vowels)
- ㅏ [ɐ] → ㅑ [jɐ] & ㅘ [wɐ]
- ㅓ [ʌ] → ㅕ [jʌ] & ㅝ [wʌ]
- ㅗ [o̞] → ㅛ [jo̞]
- ㅜ [u] → ㅠ [ju]
- ㅐ [e̞] → ㅒ [je̞] & ㅙ [we̞]
- ㅔ [e̞] → ㅖ [je̞] & ㅞ [we̞]
Note: some studies say that they’re rising diphthongs, rather than ones with semivowels.
The diphthong ㅢ (another 1 vowel)
- Technically, “ㅐ” is close to [ɛ], while “ㅔ” is more of [e]. But nowadays “ㅐ” and “ㅔ” may sound the same: somewhere between [ɛ] and [e].
- The longer vowels are not a thing anymore. Now, only elderly speakers differentiate the short and the long. Younger speakers simply just stick to the short ones.
The 19 consonants
19 initial consonants (all of them can be initial)
Note: “ㅇ” at the initial position has no sound! It’s not [ŋ].
7 final consonants (and 7 of them can be final)
Note: Korean’s 평음/격음/경음 distinction.
The Korean language doesn’t make the voiced/voiceless distinction. It has the 평음平音/격음激音/경음硬音 distinction, distinguished by tenseness.
- “평음”: they are not or weakly aspirated; “ㅂ,” “ㄷ,” “ㅈ,” and “ㄱ” between voiced sounds, such as nasal consonants, liquid consonants, and vowels, are voiced; otherwise (for the “ㅅ” sound, or “ㅂ,” “ㄷ,” “ㅈ,” and “ㄱ” at the beginning of words), they are voiceless.
- “격음” is voiceless aspirated consonants.
- “경음” is tenuis consonants, that are, voiceless, unaspirated and unglottalized.
This might help too (it has word examples for the consonants): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_phonology.
Kudos to you studying this phonologically complicated language. Even though making those Korean sounds is one of the easiest things for me to do, still, studying its phonology overwhelms me.
Edit: the /ㅓ/ sound is a bit different than how it’s described here.