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Korean Vocaloids[edit | edit source]

The following are a list of Vocaloids that use Korean.

Phonetic System's Characteristics[edit | edit source]

The phonetic system for Korean Vocaloids uses less standard transcription compared to the typical notation used by other languages that are based on X-SAMPA. This is somewhat due to the nature of hangul, which already functions as a phonetic alphabet. Unlike English and Japanese which classifies stop consonants based on voiced and unvoiced pairs, Korean distinguishes between three sets of initial stop consonants; plain, tense and aspirated. As a result, Korean does not distinguish between unvoiced [k] and voiced [g]; rather, both are allophones of a single phoneme /k/. This can cause confusion for users as the similar transcriptions for consonant phonemes in Korean do not match the sounds in other languages. Korean syllables are traditionally separated into three parts: CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant). However the vowel may include a glide, which causes another major difference between Korean's system and Japanese. Since Japanese only includes one glide /j/, it is always written in the onset of a syllable as a palatalized consonant, rather than as part of the vowel. So while both languages share many sounds in common, the phonetic notations in Vocaloid can differ somewhat.

Vowels[edit | edit source]

The Korean phonetic system distinguishes between 7 monophthongs, or pure vowels. Traditionally the Korean language contains 10 pure vowels that can still be heard in the speech of some speakers today: /a, ɛ, ʌ, e, o, ø, u, y, ɯ, i/. However, the vowels ㅚ /ø/ and ㅟ /y/ have become diphthongized into [we] and [ɥi] by the vast majority of South Koreans. While the remaining 8 vowels are still officially recognized as being distinct by the National Institute of the Korean Language, the vowels ㅐ /ɛ/ and ㅔ /e/ have also been merged into one vowel [e] by younger speakers, leaving the total of 7 vowels used in Vocaloid.

  • The 7 vowels are: [a], [7], [o], [u], [M], [i], and [e].

The vowel ㅓ is inputted as [7] in Vocaloid, suggesting that the IPA equivalent would be [ɤ]. However this is somewhat inaccurate as the most common and standard pronunciation of the vowel in South Korea is recognized as [ʌ] with the IPA.

Diphthongs[edit | edit source]

Korean contains several raising diphthongs beginning with the glides /j, w, ɰ/; 10 of which are distinguished in Vocaloid. Similar to Chinese Vocaloids, these glides are included onto the Vowel portion of the syllable rather than split into two separate phonemes. For example, Korean vocaloids would input [ja], whereas Japanese and Spanish vocaloids would input [j a] to produce a similar sound.

  • Diphthongs beginning with /j/: [ja], [j7], [jo], [ju], and [je]
  • Diphthongs beginning with /w/: [oa], [u7], [ue], and [ui]
  • Diphthongs beginning with /ɰ/: [Mi]

All diphthongs beginning /j/ and /w/ can be preceded by a consonant. /ɰi/ cannot occur after a consonant, as it becomes /i/ in that case within standard Korean.

Initial Consonants[edit | edit source]

The Korean language contains 19 consonant letters. However many of these consonants contain positional allophones that can change depending a few factors. Most consonants change sounds depending on whether they are at the beginning or end of a syllable. Similar to Japanese, initial consonants become palatalized before the sounds /i/ and /j/. In addition to palatalization, initial consonants also become labialized before the sounds /o, u, w/ (and labio-palatalized in the case of /y/ specifically) However Vocaloid doesn't make distinctions for many of these allophones.

Stop Consonants[edit | edit source]

Korean distinguishes between 3 types of stop consonants: plain, tense, and aspirated. Other languages in Vocaloid only distinguish stops in pairs; voiced and unvoiced as in the case of English, Spanish and Japanese; and aspirated and unaspirated in the case of Chinese. This causes the consonant system in Korean to be somewhat misleading to users accustomed to the other languages as there is a mismatch between the same letters producing different sounds.

  • Plain consonants: ㄱ [g], ㄷ [d], ㅂ [b], and ㅈ [c]. These consonants correspond to the sounds [k, t, p, tɕ] in IPA notation. However since Korean doesn't distinguish between voiced and unvoiced sounds, so whenever these sounds follow a vowel or voiced final consonant, they assimilate into [b, d, g, dʑ].
  • Tense consonants: ㄲ [g'], ㄸ [d'], ㅃ [b'], and ㅉ [c']. Unlike the plain consonants, this set is always unvoiced [k͈, t͈, p͈, t͈ɕ]. Users accustomed to Japanese phonemes may be confused as the apostrophes in the Korean system don't mark palatalization. For example [g' a] in the Korean system is the sound [k͈ɐ] whereas [g' a] in the Japanese system is [gʲa].
  • Aspirated consonants: ㅋ [k], ㅌ [t], ㅍ [p], and ㅊ [ch]. These consonants correspond to the sounds [kʰ, tʰ, pʰ, tɕʰ] in IPA notation.

Tense and aspirated consonants can occur at the beginning of any syllable regardless of the preceding sound. Plain consonants however will assimilate into their tensed counterparts whenever the preceding syllable ends with a stop consonant.

Fricative Consonants[edit | edit source]

The fricatives in Korean are /s, s͈, h/.

  • ㅅ /s/: [s] is a quick s sound produced without the speaker's teeth touching together. Many Korean speakers will also aspirate this sound at the beginning of words causing "사" /sa/ to sound like [sʰa]. Before the sounds /i, y, j/ this consonant becomes palatalized into [ɕ], transcribed as [sh] in Korean Vocaloids.
  • ㅆ /s͈/: [s'] is a more standard s sound produced with the speaker's teeth touching together, meaning this phoneme is more similar to the [s] found in English, Chinese and Japanese. Before the sounds /i, y, j/ this consonant becomes palatalized into [ɕ], transcribed as [sh'] in Korean Vocaloids. Similar the tense stop consonants, [sh'] can occur whenever the preceding syllable ends with a stop consonant while [sh] cannot.
  • ㅎ /h/: unlike the other two fricatives, [h] does not possess allophones in Vocaloid despite it actually having the most out of any other consonant in the Korean language. While the occurrence of these allophones varies from speaker to speaker, the standard changes (written in the IPA) are: [h] before /a, ɛ, ʌ, e, ø/ [ç] before /i, y, j/, [ɸ] before /o, u, w/, and [x] before /ɯ/. Additionally all of the aforementioned allophones assimilate into their voiced counterparts when following a vowel or voiced final consonant.

Nasal Consonants[edit | edit source]

Korean Vocaloids only have two nasal consonants as initials, ㄴ [n] and ㅁ [m]. While the phoneme [ɲ] in the IPA occurs in Korean whenever /n/ is followed by /i, y, j/, Vocaloid does not make this distinction.

Approximants[edit | edit source]

The Korean language technically only has ㄹ /l/ as an approximant. However in the syllable-initial position, this contains two allophones that Vocaloid distinguishes.

  • [l] in an alveolar lateral approximant. In native Korean words, [l] can only occur when following an additional ending /l/.Whenever following an ending nasal consonant it commonly assimilates into [n], however it may still be pronounced as [l] in loanwords.
  • [r] is an alveolar tap that can only occur between two vowels.

Neither of these sounds occur at the beginning of words in native Korean vocabulary. In the case of loanwords, [r] is the more common allophone word-initially. [l] does palatalized into [ʎ] before /i, y, j/ despite Vocaloid not making the distinction.

Final Consonants[edit | edit source]

Korean has a total of 7 possible ending consonants, consisting of 3 nasals, 1 approximant and 3 unvoiced stops. Unlike other languages, Korean Vocaloids use separate phonemes for initial and final consonants, despite a couple of them being written as the same sound in the IPA.

  • Voiced finals: ㅁ [mp], ㄴ [np], ㅇ [Np], and ㄹ [rp]. These correspond to the sounds [m, n, ŋ, ɭ] in IPA notation. Of these four, [Np] and [rp] are unique allophones that do not occur syllable-initially.
  • Unvoiced finals: [gp], [dp], and [bp]. These correspond to the sounds [k̚, t̚, p̚] in IPA notation. Unlike ending consonants in English, these sounds are unreleased stops. Whenever these consonants are followed by a nasal consonant or approximant they assimilate into [Np], [np], and [mp] respectively. Note that whenever these sounds are followed by [s'] they become fully released instead.


Phonetic List[edit | edit source]

Symbol Classification IPA Symbol / Name Sample Hangul / RRoK Notes Related Phonemes
[a] vowel ɐ near-open central vowel ㅏ (a) Typically transcribed as /a/ but actual pronunciation is closer to [ɐ] [ja] (dipthong)

[oa] (diphthong)

[ja] vowel ㅑ (ya) Typically transcribed as /ja/ but actual pronunciation is closer to [jɐ] [a] (monophthong)
[7] vowel ʌ open-mid back unrounded vowel ㅓ (eo) The X-SAMPA symbol suggests [ɤ], however the standard pronunciation in South Korea is [ʌ] [j7] (diphthong)

[u7] (diphthong)

[j7] vowel ㅕ (yeo) The X-SAMPA symbol suggests [jɤ], however the standard pronunciation in South Korea is [jʌ] [7] (monophthong)
[e] vowel mid front unrounded vowel ㅐ(ae), ㅔ (e) Most speakers in South Korea no longer differentiate between ㅐ /ɛ/ and ㅔ /e/, merging both into [e̞] [je] (diphthong)

[ue] (diphthong)

[je] vowel je̞ ㅒ (yae), ㅖ (ye) [e] (monophthong)
[o] vowel o close-mid back rounded vowel ㅗ (o) [jo] (diphthong)
[oa] vowel ㅘ (wa) Typically transcribed as /wa/ but actual pronunciation is closer to [wɐ] [a] (monophthong)
[jo] vowel jo ㅛ (yo) [o] (monophthong)
[u] vowel ju ㅜ (u) [ju] (diphthong)
[u7] vowel ㅝ (weo) The X-SAMPA symbol suggests [wɤ], however the standard pronunciation in South Korea is [wʌ] [7] (monophthong)
[ue] vowel we̞ ㅙ (wae), ㅞ (we), ㅚ (oe)

ㅚ is traditionally pronounced /ø/ however in South Korean speech it has become [we̞]

[e] (monophthong)
[ui] vowel wi ㅟ (wi) ㅟ is traditionally pronounced /y/ however in South Korean speech it has become [wi] or [ɥi] [i] (monophthong)
[M] vowel ɯ close back unrounded vowel ㅡ (eu)
[Mi] vowel ɰi ㅢ (eui) ㅢ /ɰi/ can only occur word-initially following the silent consonant ㅇ. It is pronounced as /i/ when following any other consonant or as /e̞/ when used as the possessive particle "의" [i] (monophthong)
[i] vowel i close frount unrounded vowel ㅣ (i) [wi] (diphthong)

[Mi] (diphthong)

[g] initial consonant k~g velar plosive ㄱ (g)

Pronounced [k] at the beginning of a sequence, pronounced [g] elsewhere

[g'] (tensed)

[gp] (syllable-final)

[k] (aspirated)

[g'] initial consonant tense velar plosive ㄲ (gg) Tense /k/

[g] (lax)

[gp] (syllable-final)

[k] (aspirated)

[n] initial consonant n alveolar nasalɲ palatal nasal ㄴ (n)

[np] (syllable-final)

[d] initial consonant t~d alveolar plosive ㄷ (d)

Pronounced [t] at the beginning of a sequence, pronounced [d] elsewhere

[d'] (tensed)

[dp] (syllable-final)

[t] (aspirated)

[d'] initial consonant tense alveolar plosive ㄸ (dd) Tense /t/ [d] (lax)

[t] (aspirated)

[r] initial consonant ɾ alveolar tap ㄹ (r) Can occur word-initially or between two vowels [l] (allophone)

[rp] (syllable-final)

[l] initial consonant l lateral alveolar approximantʎ palatal lateral approximant ㄹ (l) Can occur word-initially or following a voiced ending consonant [r] (allophone)

[rp] (syllable-final)

[m] initial consonant m bilabial nasal ㅁ (m) [mp] (syllable-final)
[b] initial consonant p~b bilabial plosive ㅂ (b)

Pronounced [p] at the beginning of a sequence, pronounced [b] elsewhere

[b'] (tensed)

[bp] (syllable-final)

[p] (aspirated)

[b'] initial consonant tense bilabial plosive ㅃ (bb) Tense /p/ [b] (lax)

[p] (aspirated)

[s] initial consonant s alveolar fricative ㅅ (s) May be aspirated [sʰ] word-initially [s'] (tense)[sh] (palatalized)
[sh] initial consonant ɕ alveolopalatal fricative ㅅ (s) Only occurs before /i, y, j/May be aspirated [ɕʰ] word-initially [sh'] (tense)[s] (depalatalized)
[s'] initial consonant tense alveolar fricative ㅆ (ss) [s] (lax)

[sh'] (palatalized)

[sh'] initial consonant ɕ͈ tense alveolopalatal fricative ㅆ (ss) Only occurs before /i, y, j/ [sh] (lax)[s'] (depalatalized)
[c] initial consonant

ʨ~dʑ alveolo-palatal affricate

ㅈ (j)

Pronounced /ʨ/ at the beginning of a sequence, pronounced /dʑ/ elsewhere

[c'] (tensed)

[ch] (aspirated)

[c'] initial consonant t͈ɕ tense alveolo-palatal affricate ㅉ (jj)

Tense /ʨ/

[c] (lax)

[ch] (aspirated)

[ch] initial consonant

ʨʰ aspirated alveolo-palatal affricate

ㅊ (ch) [ch] (unaspirated)
[k] initial consonant aspirated velar plosive ㅋ (k) [g] (unaspirated)
[t] initial consonant aspirated alveolar plosive ㅌ (t) [d] (unaspirated)
[p] initial consonant aspirated bilabial plosive ㅍ (p) [b] (unaspirated)
[h] initial consonant

h~ɦ glottal fricative

çpalatal fricative

ɸbilabial fricative

xvelar fricative

ㅎ (h) [h] before /a, ʌ, e/

[ç] before /i, y, j/

[ɸ] before /o, u, w/

[x] before /ɯ/

all allophones become their voiced counterparts when following a vowel

[gp] final consonant unreleased velar plosive ㄱ (k) Assimilates to [ŋ] if the following initial consonant is /n/ /l/ or /m/

Becomes audibly released when followed by /s͈/

[g] (syllable-initial)

[g'] (syllable-initial)

[k] (syllable-initial)

[np] final consonant n alveolar nasal ㄴ (n)

[n] (syllable-initial)

[dp] final consonant unreleased alveolar plosive ㄷ (t) Assimilates to [n] if the following initial consonant is /n/ /l/ or /m/

Becomes audibly released when followed by /s͈/

[d] (syllable-initial)

[t] (syllable-initial)

[rp] final consonant ɭ retroflex lateral approximant ㄹ (l)

[r] (syllable-initial)

[l] (syllable-initial)

[mp] final consonant m bilabial nasal ㅁ (m)

[m] (syllable-initial)

[bp] final consonant unreleased bilabial plosive ㅂ (p) Assimilates to [m] if the following initial consonant is /n/ /l/ or /m/

Becomes audibly released when followed by /s͈/

[b] (syllable-initial)

[p] (syllable-initial)

[Np] final consonant ŋ velar nasal ㅇ (ng)

Additional Phonetics[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of additional phonemes avaible for SeeU.

Symbol Classification IPA Symbol / Name Sample Notes Related Phonemes
[@r] final consonant ɹ alveolar approximant singer, roller English R.
[C] initial consonant sister, recieve

Works only before [i]

While [C i] and [s i] are identical phoneme-wise, the first has smoother transition and the latter does not work at the begining of a sequence.

[z] initial consonant zvoiced alveolar sibilant zoo, zero

[s]

[C]

[f] initial consonant fvoiceless labiodental fricative father, family
[v] initial consonant vvoiced labiodental fricative value, voice

[b]

[f]

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