I've always had trouble with the distinction between the "e"-like vowels in European languages:
/ɛ/. But pronouncing them the same has never caused me any problems.
In fact I don't even know whether my English "short e" is
/ɛ/. I seem to recall it varies by English variety, even for IPA use (I always use
/e/ for English IPA). In my idiolect there may even be some kind of merger. "Head" is
/hEd/ and "haired" is
E could be either
ɛ - I'm not sure.
So now I'm in Korea trying to improve my Korean. Up until now I had always pronounced "ㅐ" as
/æ/ and "ㅔ" as whatever my English "short e" is.
But lately people have been correcting me and telling me "ㅐ" should be what to me sounds like "short e".
Having done some reading I find Korean doesn't have
/æ/ as I'd thought, but has two contrasting vowels that would both fall into the "short e" category for my idiolect:
/ɛ/ and "ㅔ" is
How can I learn to distinguish these sounds correctly, both for listening and speaking?
If I learn it for Korean it will also help for my linguistics generally.
Are there some minimal pairs in Korean I can practice with with my native Korean speaking friends here? (It's not easy trying to explain to non-linguists with imperfect English what minimal pairs are.)