1

From what I've learnt, ㄷ is pronounced /t/ at the start of a word or end of a syllable, and /d/ if it's at the start of a syllable. So I am a bit confused as to why the -다 at the end of some verbs (in dictionary form) are not pronounced as /da/.

Examples:

  • 살다 (to live) is pronounced [살ː다] - this is what I expect
  • 좋다 (to be good) is pronounced [조ː타] - ㄷ is pronounced as /t/
  • 먹다 (to eat) is pronounced [먹따] - ㄷ is pronounced as /t͈/ (but still somehow sounds like /d/)

Is there a way to know, without checking the dictionary each time, how -다 should be pronounced based on the word stem?

3

The pronunciations of the standard Korean words are quite predictable because there are the standard (official) pronunciation rules. The rules are written in Korean, so you can refer to the second sheet of this instead, at the moment. The list indicates where consonants and vowels shift; however, you should note that some conditions have exceptions, which you may regard as unpredictable ones.

Fortunately, your examples have all predictable pronunciations.

  • 살다 has the ㄹㄷ (ᆯᄃ) sequence. The stem and ending of 살다 are 살 and 다, respectively, which means that the consonant ㄷ does not change when it is pronounced. As a side note, most people do not care about the symbol ː these days. Thus, the pronunciation of 살다 is just 살다 or 살ː다 (The latter is standard).

  • 좋다 has the ㅎㄷ (ᇂᄃ) sequence. This sequence always becomes ㅌ when it is read. Therefore, 좋다 is pronounced as 조ː타 (or, more practically, 조타). If you learn more about the ㅎ sound, such a change will make sense.

  • 먹다 has the ㄱㄷ (ᆨᄃ) sequence, which applies to the condition "ᄃ (following ᆨ, ᆩ, ᆪ, ᆰ, ᆿ, ᆮ, ᆺ, ᆻ, ᆽ, ᆾ, ᇀ, ᆸ, ᇁ, ᆲ, ᆵ, or ᆹ)." Then, 다 must change into 따 when it is pronounced.

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  • I was aware of some rules related to nasal sounds (e.g. ㅂ+ㄹ ⟶ ㅁ+ㄴ, ㄱ ㅋ ㄲ+ㄹ ⟶ ㅇ+ㄴ) but not aware of the ones involving ㄷ. I also didn't know the existence of the kornorms website - it will be very useful for me further in my studies (when I can read more Korean words). So thank you for you answer, it helps a lot. – d4nyll Sep 17 at 23:28

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