When I speak fast, can I say 대악생 for 대학생? Just as so, say 사랑애 for 사랑해, 기외 for 기회. The omission of ㅎ or the weakening of ㅎ is all about my listening experience when I get to drama, variety show and korean music.

Note that my doubts about this one are based on the situation when people are speaking fast, especially when a person calls anyone else's name such as 남주역 for 남주혁, 김수연 for 김수현.

3 Answers 3


Wow, it's not easy to explain a mother tongue to non-native speakers, but I will give it a try.

Let's think of how to prounounce e in English. When e does not have an accent on it, it sounds like uh. If it has an accent, it sounds like ee or e.

When one pronounces , if does not have an accent on it, one can replace it with . If one were to say 저 대학생을 봐 as 저 대악생을 봐, most Koreans would understand the sentence. However, one cannot say 학교 as 악교; since pronouncing the first syllable correctly is important when speaking Korean.

As for 사랑해, one cannot say 사랑애. You see, means do and acts as a verb. So 사랑애 is ambiguous, and being the main verb, that's an issue. So it's not the best way to go about pronouncing that, you see. If I, as a native speaker, heard someone say 사랑애, I might misunderstand that (as spoken): 사랑에. I would then expect other words (or phrases) to follow. You see, is a post-positional particle (after which other words will follow). (e.g. 사랑에 죽다)

In the case of personal names, if one shares context with the listener, one might omit the h sound which calls for. Otherwise, one should properly pronounce the character. If one pronounced a name as 김연아, the listener would hear the name as "Yuna Kim. But 김현아 is an entirely different person ("Hyun-a Kim"). 김수현 and 김수연 is a similar case (they are completely different if were pronounced as ).

  • What do you mean by "accent"? Korean does not have lexical stress. The reason that 대악생 can be heard and not 악교 is that the position of the ㅎ: between vowels in 대학생, but word-initial in 학교.
    – gaeguri
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 13:49
  • I mean accent as the tendency to speak clearer sound, not as English accent or Chinese intonation. First syllable should be say in clear sound. ㅎ between syllable can be weakened. However if ㅎis in person's name, it should be spoken with clear sound. (gaeguri씨 한국인이세요? 모국어를 설명하기 위하여 부득이하게 강세개념을 썼습니다. 처음에 썼죠. it's not easy to explain a mother tongue.) Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 13:54
  • And ㅎ's weakening can happen where ㅎ is not between vowels: see 단호박, 망했다, 감호소, etc. Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 14:00
  • Right, the weakening happens between 2 voiced sounds - either between 2 vowels or a voiced consonant (e.g. ㄴ, ㅇ, ㅁ) and a vowel.
    – gaeguri
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 14:25
  • Your answer has good insight, in particular with names, but using the word "accent" is confusing - I'm not sure if you mean at the beginning of words, or after morpheme boundaries perhaps?
    – gaeguri
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 14:31

The h or ㅎ sound can be called the 'voiceless glottal fricative' - voiceless because you don't engage your vocal cords while making it, and glottal because it's usually made with the back of the throat.

The faster you speak, the less time you have to stop and start your vocal cords vibrating, and the less time you have to reshape your vocal tract to move pronunciation to the back of the throat. So you're quite right that in Korean (as in many languages) this can cause ㅎ to be weakened significantly, and some speakers might sound like they're omitting it entirely. So it's not bad if your ㅎ weakens somewhat as you speak faster.

I'm still not sure that it's helpful to think that you can say 대악생 for 대학생. It's rare that you will be speaking so fast that you can't afford at least a short unvoiced moment to represent 'ㅎ', and if I were to say 대악생 very fast it might start sounding like 대생 (I think that's close to what WEBjuju was saying - that the danger might be that you take it too far!)

  • 1
    Good answer, but one thing: between vowels, ㅎ is realized as [ɦ], which is voiced, so you don't have to stop and start your vocal cords vibrating - you just need to close your glottis enough to make it a fricative.
    – gaeguri
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 8:18
  • @gaeguri between vowels speaking ㅎ in an informal way may sound silent; this is what I have got from Korean natives.
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 11:12

When one says "hello", it may sound to a foreigner like the "h" is silent, until they hear an Aussie version, like "'ello". The difference is clear even if the full speed version makes it sound absent.

There is a ㅎ sound in 대학생, even if context lets us pronounce it otherwise and still get our meaning across. in the same way, breathing heavily through the ㅎ and over pronouncing it isn't right either, but it must be there.

  • Sorry still confused
    – Kris
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 3:47

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