Consonant assimilation, Tensification, Aspiration and ㅎ weakening

Consonant assimilation

The nasal consonants are ㄴ and ㅁ. To keep pronunciation easy and flowing some consonants get changed before these two consonants as shown below:

Some p-based sounds become ‘m’:
ㅂ, ㅍ —> ㅁ sound Some t, s, ch, and h-based sounds become ‘n’:
ㄷ, ㅌ, ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅎ —> ㄴ sound  k/g based sounds become ‘ng’, like in English singer (not sin-ger)
ㄱ, ㅋ, ㄲ —> ㅇ sound


Spelling               Pronunciation
입니다                      임니다
있는데                      인는데
일학년                      이랑년
ㄹ also has its own assimilation rules. If ㄹ and ㄴ come together, the ㄹ wins (don’t say the ㄴ at all). It means the n BECOMES an l. If ㄹ comes before an ‘i’ or ‘y’ sound the ㄹ sound is doubled. More of an ‘l’ sound than an ‘r’ sound.
ㄹ + ㄴ —> double ㄹ (l) sound
ㄹ + (이, 야, 여, 유, etc.) —> double ㄹ (l) sound


Spelling             Pronunciation
진리                           질리
곤란                           골란
팔년                           팔련
서울역                     서울력


The following shows the difference between untensed and tensed consonants in Korean: Untensed


ㅂ—> ㅃ


Sometimes it’s easier to tense a consonant when it’s before another strong consonant, rather than assimilating it like we did with the nasal consonants
ㄴ and ㅁ. Examples

Spelling                Pronunciation
학교                              학꾜
식당                              식땅
국밥                              국빱
책상                              책쌍
숙제                              숙쩨

Aspiration and weakening

The ‘h’ sound is very weak in English as well as Korean. For example, when you pronounce ‘hour’ it sounds like ‘our’. The ‘ㅎ’ tends to become silent in casual speech between vowels, after the nasal consonants ㄴ and ㅁ, or after the consonant ㄹ.


Spelling                  Pronunciation
좋아요                          조아요
전화                                저놔
감히                                가미
말해 봐                         마래 봐

When ㅎ precedes or follows immediately ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ or ㅈ, it becomes silent but making these soft consonants harder (or aspirated): Softer


ㅂ —>ㅍ

ㅈ —>ㅊ

Spelling                  Pronunciation
축하                                  추카
좋다                                  조타
입학                                  이팍
그렇지                            그러치



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s