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Korean Sound Changes


For those who are interested in the mind boggling sound changes in Korean, here’s a great book to consult ^^ The Sounds of Korean – A Pronunciation Guide by Miho Choo & William O’Grady.

Korean seems easy to pronounce and read at the beginning, but once you get to the higher levels, you will realise that things are not as clear cut as they seem. (But at least, it’s better than English, whose pronunciation  is famous for its non conformity to its spelling).

The book presents all the sound changes in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. However, I’m not sure if memorizing the ‘rules’ is the way to go. I’m more inclined to believe that once  you are immersed in the environment, the pronunciation will come naturally. But on the other hand, without knowing the rules, I’m saying it all wrong. And I don’t want my ‘wrong pronunciation’ to become fossilized.

Back to the book.. (: the examples are given, with the pronunciation gloss besides it.


Rule: In front of a suffix that begins with ‘ㅣ’ or the y diaphthong ‘여’, ㄷ is pronounced as 지 and ㅌ is pronounced as ㅊ

예) 맏이 (eldest + subject marker) [마지]

      끝이 (end+subject marker) [끄치]

That’s still easy to understand. But I’m rather confused at the part where ㄴcan be added add the beginning of an item which starts with ‘ㅣ’ or the y diaphthong and where the previous character ends with a consonant. That explains why 이 (teeth) sometimes appear as 니. But I have no idea how this works. ><

Coming back to my point, I wonder if I should memorize all these rules. Some of them come quite naturally to me, but some are still confusing me.

Any suggestions? ^^

p.s owbEe from My Linguistics found an awesome site that teaches Korean Standard Pronunciation.


I’ve been meaning to update the Korean Language Resources page for ages. I promised to do it this holidays but I’m still too lazy. >< For more resources, go to ‘Korean Learning Tools’ category! ^^

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