Five Korean sound change rules for perfect pronunciation with 50 examples

Five Korean sound change rules for perfect pronunciation with 50 examples

Important of sound change rules:

Korean language has several sound change rules that affect pronunciation, making it different from how words are written. These rules are crucial for proper pronunciation and understanding of spoken Korean. Understanding the sound change rules is essential for learners of Korean. They not only help in proper pronunciation but also aid in comprehension of spoken Korean, as native speakers naturally apply these rules in their speech. Mastering these rules can significantly improve a learner's ability to communicate effectively in Korean.

 

Rule 1: Syllable-Final Neutralization Rule (SFNR)

The Syllable-Final Neutralization Rule refers to the phenomenon where certain consonants at the end of a syllable (받침) are pronounced differently than their written forms. In Korean, only specific consonants are allowed in the syllable-final position, and others are neutralized to one of these allowed consonants.

Key points about syllable-final neutralization:

- Consonants like , , , , , are neutralized to .

- Consonants like and are neutralized to .

- Consonants like are neutralized to .

 

Here are ten examples demonstrating this rule:


(sickle) - pronounced as []

(to exist) - pronounced as []

(milk) - pronounced as []

(flower) - pronounced as []

(field) - pronounced as []

좋다 (good) - pronounced as [졷다] -> [조타]

(outside) - pronounced as []

(chicken) - pronounced as []

(front) - pronounced as []

밟다 (step on) - pronounced as [밥다]

 

Rule 2: Nasalization Rule

Nasalization Before Nasal Consonants: When a non-nasal consonant (like , , ) is followed by a nasal consonant (, ), the non-nasal consonant changes to a nasal sound. This makes pronunciation smoother.

 
ㄱ becomes [ㅇ]
 becomes []

국물 (soup) →  becomes [], pronounced as [궁물]

 

Nasalization After Nasal Consonants: When a non-nasal consonant is preceded by a nasal consonant, it also changes to a nasal sound to match the preceding nasal consonant.

 
 becomes [] before ㄴ
ㄷ becomes [ㄴ] before ㄴ

있는 (to have) 인는 (ㅆ becomes ㄷ, ㄷ becomes  before )

 

Here are ten examples demonstrating this rule:


먹는 (eating) - becomes [], pronounced as [멍는]

입니다 (to be) - becomes [], pronounced as [임니다]

책만 (only book) - becomes [], pronounced as [챙만]

십만 (100,000) - becomes [], pronounced as [심만]

국내 (domestic) - becomes [], pronounced as [궁내]

맞는 (correct) - becomes [], pronounced as [만는]

감사합니다 (thank you) - becomes [], pronounced as [감사함니다]

업무 (business) - becomes [], pronounced as [엄무]

독립 (independence) - becomes [], pronounced as [동닙]

적립 (accumulation)→  becomes [ㅇ], pronunced as [정닙]

 

Rule 3: Assimilation in Korean

Assimilation in Korean involves sounds becoming more similar to neighboring sounds, particularly noticeable in consonant clusters. This rule can significantly change the pronunciation of words from their written form.

 

A. Lateral Assimilation (유음화): When is followed by , the changes to .

 

신라 (Silla) - ㄴㄹ becomes [ㄹㄹ], pronounced as [실라]

 

B. Nasal Assimilation (비음화): When a non-nasal consonant (like , , ) is followed or preceded by a nasal consonant (, ), the non-nasal consonant becomes nasalized.

 

학년 (school year) – ㄱㄴ becomes [ㅇㄴ], pronounced as [항년]

 

Here are ten examples illustrating this rule:

 

백리 (100 ri) - ㄱㄹ becomes [ㅇㄴ], pronounced as [뱅니]

독립 (independence) - ㄱㄹ becomes [ㅇㄴ], pronounced as [동닙]

날로 (day by day) - ㄹㄹ becomes [ㄹㄹ], pronounced as [날로]

설날 (New Year's Day) - ㄹㄴ becomes [ㄹㄹ], pronounced as [설랄]

십리 (10 ri) - ㅂㄹ becomes [ㅁㄴ], pronounced as [심니]

부엌 (kitchen) - becomes [], pronounced as [부]

학기 (semester) - ㄱㄱ becomes [], pronounced as [학끼]

먹다 (to eat) - ㄱㄷ becomes [], pronounced as [먹따]

각색 (variety) - ㄱㅅ becomes [], pronounced as [각쌕]

녹저 (rust) - ㄱㅈ becomes [], pronounced as [녹쩌]

 

Rule 4: (h) Sound Changes

The consonant undergoes several unique sound changes in Korean. When is combined with certain other consonants, it can cause aspiration or other modifications to the pronunciation.

 

A. When combines with the consonants , , , and , these consonants become their aspirated counterparts , , , and , respectively.

 

좋다 (to be good) - ㅎㄷ becomes [], pronounced as [조타]

많다 (much) – ㅎㄷ becomes [], pronounced as [만타]

 

B. When is followed by a nasal consonant (, ), the often becomes pronounced as the nasal consonant or is dropped.

 

전화 (phone) - ㄴㅎ becomes silent, pronounced as [전와]

놓는다 (to put) – ㅎㄴ becomes [ㄴㄴ], prounced as [논는다]

 

C. When is followed by a liquid consonant (), the can reinforce the , making it more prominent.


철학 (philosophy) – ㄹㅎ becomes [ㄹㄹ], pronounced as [철락]
 

Here are examples demonstrating these sound changes:

 

축하하다 (to congratulate) – ㄱㅎ become [], pronounced as [추카하다]

많이 (many) - ㅎㅇ becomes silent, pronounced as [마니]

그렇게 (like that) - ㅎㄱ becomes [], pronounced as [그러케]

쌓다 (to pile up) - ㅎㄷ becomes [], pronounced as [싸타]

놓고 (to put and) - ㅎㄱ becomes [], pronounced as [노코]

많았다 (were much) - becomes silent before a vowel, pronounced as [마났다]

익숙하다 (to be familiar) - ㅎㄷ becomes [], pronounced as [익수카다]

좋아요 (it's good) - becomes silent, pronounced as [조아요]

졸업하다 (to graduate) - ㅎㄷ becomes [], pronounced as [조러파다]

닫히다 (to be closed) - with becomes [], pronounced as [다치다]

 

Rule 5: Re-syllabification Rule

Re-syllabification in Korean is a process where consonants at the end of one syllable are moved to the beginning of the following syllable when a vowel follows. This helps make pronunciation smoother and aligns with Korean phonotactic rules.

 

Here are ten examples illustrating this rule:

 

꽃이 (flower + subject particle) - pronounced as [꼬치]

밥을 (rice + object particle) - pronounced as [바블]

곧이어 (soon after) - pronounced as [고디어]

깨닫아 (to realize) - pronounced as [깨다다]

듣어 (to listen) - pronounced as [드더]

음악 (music) - pronounced as [으막]

밖에 (outside) - pronounced as [바께]

오세요 (please come by for sure) - pronounced as [꼬고세요]

앉아요 (sit down) - pronounced as [안자요]

작은 (small) - pronounced as [자그은]

 

Keywords: Korean sound change rules, Korean pronunciation rules, Korean speaking rules

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