Another Change of ㄱ After Voiced Sounds – Korean Pronunciation Tips #9

In our last episode, we learned 유성음화 or 울림소리되기. At the end, I told you that 유성음화 is not the only sound change when ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ are after voiced sound which is ㄴ, ㄹ, ㅇ, ㅁ(노란양말) with vowels. In this episode, we will learn the other change of the sounds. It is 경음화 or 된소리되기.

What is 된소리? It that also in English?

Before we go, let's talk about 된소리, fortis. 된소리 is hard for foreigners to sound correctly because it doesn't exist in many languages. You might have heard of its linguistic term, fortis, today. 된소리 sound and 예사소리, basic sound, are almost same. But 된소리s don't let the much air out of your mouth. It is hard to find examples of this change in English. However, there are some similar ones. When some consonants are used after consonants like ski, steam, spot, gotcha, there original sound is weakened. As much air was used in the first sound, the second sound cannot use as much air as in the first one, so it sounds like 된소리 to Koreans' ears.

된소리되기 is the rule that the sound changes to 된소리. It happens under 2 situations.

ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ + ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ => ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ + ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ

The first rule is that ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ is changed to ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ after ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ sounds. Let's see with examples.

그가 나오자 모두 박수를 쳤다.
After he came out, everyone applauded.

앞집에 잠깐 다녀 왔어.
I have been to the neighbor's shortly.

애들이 집에서 축구하다가 꽃병을 깼더라고.
Kids played soccer in the house and broke the vase.

박수 is [박쑤]. 앞집 is [압찝]. 축구 is [축꾸]. 꽃병 is [꼳뼝].

This rule always happens without exception. This rule is simple and easy.

The Confusing Rule: ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ after Voiced Sounds

The second rule is that ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅈ is changed to ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅃ, ㅆ, ㅉ after voiced sounds. As you can see, the condition of this rule is identical to that of 유성음화. Because of that, it looks so random for foreigners when it comes to the sound of ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ, ㅈ. Let's see with examples.

출연해 주신 모든 분들께 황금 열쇠를 선물했습니다.
The golden key is given as present to every participant.

물가에서 너무 멀리 가지 마. 알았지?
Don't go too far from the beach. Got it?

열쇠 is [열:쐬]. It's fine, because there is no voiced sound for ㅅ sound. However, 물가 is [물까], not [물가]. ㄱ in 가 became 된소리, not a voiced /g/ sound.

No Rule Between 유성음화 and 경음화

Then, you might have wondered there might be a rule here. I also tried to find it, but I couldn't. It's just too random. Let's see with these words.

비빔밥, 볶음밥

비빔밥 and 볶음밥 are two famous dishes in Korea. There are 3 first sound ㅂs in 비빔밥. However, the sound of them are different from each other. The first sound is /p/ and the second sound is /b/ and the final sound is 된소리 ㅂ(/p'/). However, in the case of 볶음밥, last ㅂ in 밥 is voiced /b/ sound. There is no rule here.

물고기, 불고기

물고기 means fish and 불고기 is a name of dish. They look really similar, but 고 sounds are different. 고 in 물고기 is 된소리 ㄱ(/k'/). ㄱ in 불고기 is voiced /g/ sound.

Common Mistakes: 대가, 초점, 김칫국, 최솟값, 김밥, 효과

Because of this confusing change, there are many errors to even native speakers related to this rule.

대가에만 초점을 맞추다 보면 실수하게 되어 있어.
If you concentrate too much on the rewards, you can make mistakes.

다음은 김칫국 가격의 그래프이다. 최솟값을 구하시오.
Below is the graph of price of 김칫국. Find the minimum price.

김밥 가격을 낮추니까 효과가 금방 나타나네.
As we lowered the price of 김밥, we can see the result fast.

As 대가 is [대까] and 초점 is [초쩜], many people try to write them like 댓가 and 촛점. However, both of them are wrong. You can see many 댓가s and 촛점s in Korean writings in the Internet and even books.

Kimchi is 김치 and minimum is 최소, so it is a bit awkward for Koreans to add ㅅ at the end of these words because ㄱ in 국 and 값 is pronounced as 된소리 like [꾹] and []. So, many people remove it. However, it is correct to add it. This surplus ㅅ is called 사이시옷 in Korean. If there is 순우리말(pure Korean word) in a compound word and 경음화 happens in that word, ㅅ is added to show 경음화.

Finally, there are 김밥 and 효과. These two words are really odd. Every announcer reads them as [김밥] and [효과] and these are standard. However, most Korean read them as [김빱] and [효꽈].