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Korean has a relatively small number of fricatives and thus Korean learners of English are not accustomed to pronouncing fricative sounds. In addition, many English fricative sounds does not exist at all in Korean: /f,  v, T, D, Z,z/.


1. English /T / does not occur in Korean, and thus Korean speakers sometimes substitute /s/.

Example: think, mouth

Episode 1

I do not know why but several native speakers have misunderstood my 'fourth' as 'first'.


2. English /D/ does not exist in Korean, and thus Korean speakers often substitute Korean voiceless stop /d/.

Example: there, breathe


3. English fricative /f/ does not occur in Korean, and thus it may be pronounced as /p/. Korean speakers sometimes over-generalize /f/ sound and as a result mispronounce /p/ as /f/.

Example: four, telephone

Episode 2

My first American roommate was 'Fifi'. Oneday she asked me to stop calling her 'peepee', explaining to me  what 'pee' means in English.


4. The English fricative /v/ does not occur in Korean, and thus it may be pronounced as Korean voiceless stop /b/.

Example: view, arrive

Episode 3

When I ordered 'Small French Vanilla' at the Northern Lights, the students working there did not understand what I had ordered. After repeating it a few times, I ordered 'House coffee' instead.


5. English /Z/ does not occur in Korean. According to Jun (1990), /Z/ is one of the most difficult English consonants for Korean learners of English to acquire. They tend to substitute the Korean affricate /c / for /Z/. One way of helping Korean speakers to make /Z/ is to point out that the  /Z/ sound is made with the tip of the tongue touching no part of the roof of the mouth, and their vocal cords are vibrating.

Example: vision, pleasure


6. Korean has no voiced fricatives and Korean learners tend to substitute voiceless stops or affricates for English voiced fricatives. Particularly troublesome is the English /z/ sound in words such as 'zoo' and 'zone'. Korean learners generally pronounce /z/ sound as Korean /c/.In addition, consider that /Z/ is the voiced version of /C/. Also, /C/ is aspirated and /Z/ is unaspirated.  

Example: zoo, easy

Episode 4

Whenever I order something one the phone, I have a hard time pronouncing my phone number correctly. For example, whenever I say, "Area code 310", the other party always says, "thee one and what?". So I decided to avoid using /zero/' and use 'o [«u]' instead.


Episode 5

When I ordered 'zippy's special 'at the Zippy's in Hawaii,  the waitress did not understand what I said. When I repeated my order a few times, she finally said, "Oh, zippys'."


Episode 6

When I told a friend of mine that my aunt lives in New Jersey, he did not get where she lives.


7. The Korean /s/ is pronounced as either /S/ before high vowels or as aspirated /s/ in most other positions. For example, the English word 'see' is often pronounced 'she'. In addition, '/s/ also lends itself to a palatalization as /s/ sound at times. This is particularly evident when it is found initially next to a /u/ vowel sound, illustrated by the word 'super'.

Example: see, super

Episode 7

When I told my academic advisor that I got accepted to UCLA, he said, :Before going there, you need to first practice how to pronounce your school name accurately. you-see-el-ay, not you-she-el-ay."


Episode 8

I love to eat a "Supreme" size chicken pizza at Pizza Hut. Whenever I order it, they have trouble figuring out what my order is.


8. Korean /s/ is produced with the top (not the tip) of the tongue touching or approaching the back of the upper teeth and the gum-ridge area with the tongue tip touching the back of the lower teeth (Sohn, 2001). Thus, Korean speakers of English need to learn that they have to put the tip of their tongue right behind their teeth to produce English /s/.