Okay, I should clarify first. This sound change rule is not easy to understand. In Korean, you won’t come across this very often, except for one common word: 같이 [가치] [gachi] meaning ‘together.’
As a Korean language teacher, I don’t teach it in detail before learners reach the upper intermediate level. Lately, however, I’ve had a lot of messages asking me about it, so it’s a good time to explain.
- When ㄷ [d/t] as a final consonant (called 받침 [batchim]) is followed by 이 [i], the combination of ㄷ and 이 is pronounced 지 [ji].
- When ㄷ [d/t] as a final consonant is followed by 히 [hi], the combination of ㄷ and 히 is pronounced 치 [chi].
- When ㅌ [t] as a final consonant is followed by 이 [i], the combination of ㅌ and 이 is pronounced 치 [chi].
This rule is called “palatalization.” In Wikipedia, you’ll see this definition:
More confused? Don’t worry about it. Some of you might think it happens only in Korean, but this is a common feature in sound changes in many languages.
Let’s see how it works in English, to help understand better.
Try pronouncing this: “Did you?”
You probably pronounced it more like “/dɪdʒuː/ [di-jyu]” than “/dɪdjuː/ [did-yu],” right?
A similar phenomenon happens when ㄷ is followed by 이. Now let’s see some examples and practice so you can get used to it.
1. Final consonant ㄷ + 이 → 지
⓵ 해돋이 [해도지] [hedoji]: sunrise
⓶ 맏이 [마지] [maji]: the oldest of one’s siblings
⓷ 굳이 [구지] [guji]: deliberately, is it really necessary to.., did you absolutely have to..
- 남자친구와 저는 해돋이를 보러 아침 일찍 일어났어요.
[namjachinguwa jeoneun hedojireul boreo achim iljjik ireonasseoyo]
My boyfriend and I got up early to go see the sunrise.
- 저는 맏이예요.
I’m the oldest sibling.
- 굳이 그 미팅에 참석해야 하나요?
[guji geu miting-e chamseokheya hanayo]
Do I absolutely have to attend the meeting?
|남자친구 [namjachingu]||boyfriend||와 [wa]||(vowel +) with|
|저 [jeo]||I||는 [neun]||(vowel +) topic marker|
|해돋이 [hedoji]||sunrise||를 [reul]||(vowel +) object marker|
|보다 [boda]||to see||아침 [achim]||morning|
|일찍 [iljjik]||early||일어나다 [ireonada]||to get up|
|맏이 [maji]||the oldest of one's siblings||굳이 [guji]||deliberately, is it really necessary to.., did you absolutely have to..|
|그 [geu]||the||미팅 [miting]||meeting|
|참석하다 [chamseokhada]||to attend|
2. Final consonant ㄷ + 히 → 치
⓵ 닫히다 [다치다] [dachida]: to be closed/ shut
⓶ 굳히다 [구치다] [guchida]: to solidify/ harden
- 편의점이 이미 닫힌 상태였어요.
[pyeonuijeomi imi dachin sangteyeosseoyo]
The convenience store was already closed.
- 다시 불을 붙이기 전에 양초를 굳히세요.
[dasi bureul buchigi jeone yangchoreul guchiseyo]
Allow your candle to solidify before re-lighting.
|편의점 [pyeonuijeom]||convenience store||이 [i]||(consonant +) subject marker|
|이미 [imi]||already||닫히다 [dachida]||to be closed, shut|
|상태 [sangte]||state||다시 [dasi]||again|
|불 [bul]||fire||을 [eul]||(consonant +) object marker|
|붙이다 [buchida]||to light (a fire)||전 [jeon]||before|
|양초 [yangcho]||candle||를 [reul]||(vowel +) object marker|
|굳히다 [guchida]||to solidify, harden|
3. Final consonant ㅌ + 이 → 치
⓵ 같이 [가치] [gachi]: together
⓶ 붙이다 [부치다] [buchida]: to affix/ attach/ stick
- 내일 저녁 같이 드실래요?
[neil jeonyeok gachi deusilreyo]
Would you like to have dinner with me tomorrow?
- 편지에 우표 붙이는 걸 잊지 마세요.
[pyeonjie upyo buchineun geol itji maseyo]
Don’t forget to put a stamp on a letter.
|내일 [neil]||tomorrow||저녁 [jeonyeok]||dinner, evening|
|같이 [gachi]||together||드시다 [deusida]||to eat (honorific)|
|편지 [pyeonji]||letter||우표 [upyo]||stamp|
|붙이다 [buchida]||to affix, attach, stick||잊다 [itda]||to forget|
- Jaehoon Yeon, Lucien Brown. Korean: A Comprehensive Grammar (Routledge Comprehensive Grammars). 1st ed. Routledge; 2011.
- “Palatalization (Sound Change)”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatalization_(sound_change). Accessed 12 Aug 2018.