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Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet

Page history last edited by Brian Jongseong Park 14 years, 2 months ago

(한국어판: 한글 표기 보조 기호)


The Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet (HAA, 한글 표기 보조 기호) is a set of symbols for rendering the intermediate stage of a non-Korean word as it is adapted for representation in the Korean alphabet, hangul.


The Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet was created especially for this project; you won't find it anywhere else. It was developed in order to enable those who don't read the Korean alphabet but are familiar with the Roman alphabet to check how foreign names and terms are transcribed in hangul.


There are a set of rules and guidelines for transcribing foreign names and terms into hangul, the Korean alphabet, a process I call hangulization in analogy with romanization and cyrillicization. In many cases, however, it is impossible to apply these rules from the spelling of the foreign words alone. One has to have a pretty good idea of the original pronunciation of the word. It would be great if someone who knew the original pronunciation could check the hangulized spelling for mistakes. However, this would be difficult for someone who doesn't read hangul.


One could provide the romanization of the hangul spelling for the person to check, but this by itself would lead to a lot of confusion. This is because angulization sometimes maps several foreign sounds to a single symbol and attaches epenthetic vowels to consonant clusters that are not found in Korean. It would be too much to expect someone not familiar with Korean to recognize that '피시(pisi)' and '스트라이크(seuteuraikeu)' are indeed the correct transcriptions of the English words 'fish' and 'strike'.


A better way might be for the person who knows the original pronunciation to write down the pronunciation. However, this can be unsystematic, as not everyone is familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet. Furthermore, the original pronunciation does not have to be known in full detail for the purpose of hangulization. It is not necessary, for example, to know which syllable is stressed or what tones are used, or if the 'r' sound in the pronunciation is a rolled r, a flapped r, or a gutteral r.


The solution I propose is a transcription using the Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet, a set of symbols that are varied enough to give a good idea of the original pronunciation. They will be able to show the intermediate stage in the adaptation of the original pronunciation into Korean phonology. For instance, 'fish' and 'strike' will be transcribed /fiš/ and /straik/ which will be more recognizable as the original pronunciation.


It is very important to recognize that a Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet transcription is not a pronunciation guide, at least not for the original language. It shows the pronunciation that is halfway adapted to Korean phonology.


Symbols of the Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet

The Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet consists of a number of consonant and vowel symbols that can approximate the sounds of the world's different languages.

Consonants and semivowels

b, č, ç, d, dz, ð, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, ŋ, p, r, s, š, t, ts, þ, v, w, y, z, ž


a, e, i, o, u, æ, ə, ö, ü, ɯ

Other symbols

' (apostrophe),  ̚ (upper-right corner symbol)


To minimize ambiguity, single sounds are represented by single symbols where possible. However, /dz/ and /ts/ are used to indicate single sounds. When they are meant to represent two sounds as in 'sad zebra', and 'wet sand', one can write /d.z/ and /t.s/ to separate the symbols.


Explanation of the symbols

All examples are given in English except where indicated. Note that the same symbol can represent a range of different sounds, as potentially the sounds of all the world's languages are represented by a limited number of symbols. There is considerable variation with vowels in particular depending on the language being transcribed.

  • b - bad /bæd/; Spanish lava /laba/; Vietnamese bư /bɯ/
  • č - church /čəč/; Polish czas /čas/; Polish ćma /čma/; Hungarian tyúk /čuk/
  • ç - German dicht /diçt/
  • d - dance /dæns/; French dans /daŋ/
  • dz - loads /lodz/
  • ð - there /ðeə/
  • f - fish /fiš/
  • g - gone /gon/; Spanish trigo /trigo/
  • h - hot /hot ̚/; German Bach /bah/; Spanish general /heneral/; Portuguese Ribeiru /hibeiru/; to indicate aspiration in Thai and Vietnamese words, as in Thai Phraya /phraya/
  • j - James /jeimz/; Hungarian gyár /jar/
  • k - cake /keik/
  • l - land /lænd/
  • m - month /mənþ/
  • n - news /nyuz/
  • ŋ - sing /siŋ/; indicates nasalization in French temps /taŋ/, Portuguese bem /beŋ/, Polish wąż /voŋš/
  • p - pipe /paip/; French papier /papie/
  • r - rest /rest/; French romain /romæŋ/; Spanish pero /pero/; Spanish perro /pero/
  • s - save /seiv/
  • š - shine /šain/; Polish szum /šum/; Polish śruba /šruba/; Swedish sju /šu/; Swedish kjol /šol/
  • t - take /teik/; Spanish tierra /tiera/
  • ts - tsar /tsa/
  • þ - thick /þik ̚/
  • v - very /veri/
  • w - world /wəld/
  • y - young /yəŋ/
  • z - zoo /zu/
  • ž - treasure /trežə/; Polish rzeka /žeka/
  • a - father /faðə/; French pâte /pat/
  • e - ten /ten/; French fait /fe/
  • i - pick /pik ̚/; peak /pik/; Polish mysz /miš/
  • o - cod /kod/; code /kod/; flaw /flo/
  • u - book /buk ̚/; boon /bun/
  • æ - sand /sænd/
  • ə - buck /bək ̚/; burn /bən/; German oder /odə/; Hungarian hat /hət/; Vietnamese cân /kən/
  • ö - German König /köniç/; French heure /ör/
  • ü - French mur /mür/
  • ɯ - Vietnamese tư /tɯ/; European Portuguese de /dɯ/
  • ' (apostrophe) - used to indicate a soft or palatal sound, as in Russian тварь /tvar'/
  •  ̚ (upper-right corner symbol) - added to a plosive (p, t, k) after a short vowel in English or Dutch to indicate that it is transcribed as an unreleased stop, as in put /put ̚/


Guide to using the Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet to transcribe different languages

There are different rules of hangulization for different languages; here is a simplified overview.

  • English - See Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet for English
  • German - See Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet for German
  • French - See Hangulization Auxiliary Alphabet for French
  • Italian - Intervocalic 's' is transcribed /s/ even if it is pronounced [z] by some speakers, e.g. casa /kasa/.
  • Portuguese - At the beginning of a word or after 'n', 'l', or 's', 'r' is transcribed /h/. For European Portuguese, word-final '-es' is transcribed /(ɯ)s/; for Brazilian Portuguese it is transcribed /is/.
  • Catalan - The reduction of vowels 'a', 'e', and 'o' in unstressed syllables is not indicated and the vowels are transcribed /a/, /e/, and /o/ respectively.
  • Japanese - There is no need to use HAA for Japanese, as transcription is directly possible from hiragana or katakana. As a reference, note that the sounds 'k', 'p', and 't' at the beginning of words are transcribed /g/, /b/, and /d/ respectively.
  • Chinese - There is no need to use HAA for Chinese, as transcription is directly possible from pinyin.
  • Hungarian - The sound written 'gy' and 'ty' are transcribed /j/ and /č/ respectively. The vowel written 'a' is transcribed /ə/.
  • Swedish - The 'd' in the combination 'ds' is not transcribed. The both the sound written 'sj' and the sound written 'kj' or 'tj' are transcribed /š/. The vowels written 'a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, ö' are always transcribed /a, e, i, o, u, ü, o, e, ö/ respectively regardless of pronunciation.
  • Dutch - 'v' is transcribed /f/ at the beginning of words and /v/ otherwise.


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