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  • Aristocrat
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1539

    • November 10, 2014, 01:04:27 pm
What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« on: June 05, 2018, 09:49:42 am »
All my CTs tell me they were taught to pronounce the 'a' in 'an' as an 'o' in 'on'.
Most of the students do too.
My CTs claimed that they've been taught to pronounce it that way since elementary school and weren't able to offer an explanation. One CT pointed out that perhaps it was because I'm not American  ;D.

It's certainly not 'hangulisation' as that would be 'un' as in 'under'.

I'm aware of two pronunciations, with the 'a' sound either taking on the 'a' sound of 'apple'
or the 'ea' sound of 'early', the latter usually being employed when the speaker is speaking at a quicker pace.
My best guess is that back in the day, a Korean struggled with the the pronunciation and decided to 'try harder'
by overemphasising the vowel and decided that it was close enough. He/she then went on to teach everyone else that this was the correct way.

Any ideas where this linguistic oddity came from?


  • Mister Tim
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1473

    • September 08, 2013, 10:33:54 am
    • SK
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2018, 10:47:28 am »
I suspect it's a combination of two things:

1) They're learning from native teachers who add extra emphasis to the word when teaching how to differentiate between "a" and "an." They might mistakenly think that that particular vowel needs to be pronounced with more emphasis all the time. Even though it's actually the final "n" that the teachers initially intended to emphasize, it's the vowel they seem to be latching on to.

2) Korean doesn't have as many vowel sounds as English, so sometimes they have difficulty hearing and reproducing subtle differences that seem obvious to us (similar to them having trouble with pin vs pen, or had vs head).

With those two together, you end up with non-native speakers adding extra emphasis to a vowel that they were never quite perceiving correctly in the first place.


  • kyndo
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 4916

    • March 03, 2011, 09:45:24 am
    • Gyeongsangbuk-do
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2018, 10:51:04 am »
All my CTs tell me they were taught to pronounce the 'a' in 'an' as an 'o' in 'on'.
Most of the students do too.
My CTs claimed that they've been taught to pronounce it that way since elementary school and weren't able to offer an explanation. One CT pointed out that perhaps it was because I'm not American  ;D.

It's certainly not 'hangulisation' as that would be 'un' as in 'under'.

I'm aware of two pronunciations, with the 'a' sound either taking on the 'a' sound of 'apple'
or the 'ea' sound of 'early', the latter usually being employed when the speaker is speaking at a quicker pace.
My best guess is that back in the day, a Korean struggled with the the pronunciation and decided to 'try harder'
by overemphasising the vowel and decided that it was close enough. He/she then went on to teach everyone else that this was the correct way.

Any ideas where this linguistic oddity came from?
Insofar as I know, it's just plain wrong. I'm not aware of any native English speaker dialect where the 'a' in 'an' sounds like the 'o' in 'on'.

I think one possible reason why Koreans may have been taught this is that when 'an' is transliterated to '안', the vowel is lengthened to the point where the shorter '온' sounds closer to the real deal. Just conjecture, though.  :undecided:


  • JNM
  • The Legend

    • 3808

    • January 19, 2015, 10:16:48 am
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2018, 11:11:32 am »
Midwest American accent?


  • Mister Tim
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1473

    • September 08, 2013, 10:33:54 am
    • SK
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2018, 11:40:51 am »
Midwest American accent?

Speaking as a Midwestern American: Nope, that's not it, haha.


  • JNM
  • The Legend

    • 3808

    • January 19, 2015, 10:16:48 am
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2018, 11:51:49 am »
Midwest American accent?

Speaking as a Midwestern American: Nope, that's not it, haha.
I'm sure I've heard is somewhere before coming here.


  • eujunseo
  • Veteran

    • 171

    • April 06, 2018, 10:53:01 pm
    • United Kingdom
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2018, 10:23:18 pm »
I guess your co-teachers went for the cheap English lessons.


  • Cyanea
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1008

    • September 04, 2016, 01:48:24 pm
    • Las Vegas
Re: What's with the weird pronunciation of 'an'?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2018, 03:41:42 pm »
All my CTs tell me they were taught to pronounce the 'a' in 'an' as an 'o' in 'on'.

I have heard this pronunciation before but can't put my finger on it.

maybe Scottish. Or somewhere in Ireland.
Catch my drift?