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It all started with this song titled 호박잎 (starts at 11:02 in the video, lyrics here) on Youtube, and I noticed that the singer's pronunciation of 호박잎 is different from the supposed "standard" pronunciation of [호방닙]. So I posted this question on this very forum, asking for a clarification of the "correct" pronunciation.

As it turns out, some native guy came along and kindly explained that the singer's pronunciation could be perceived as a "double ㅇ" sound (with the ㄴ in [호방닙] assimilated back to ㅇ/ŋ/), and such pronunciation was totally acceptable. Upon seeing this explanation, I thought this "double ㅇ" thing they were referring to must be the same sound in 호랑이/고양이/아지랭이, where the syllable-final ㅇ is somehow connected to ㅣ. But my belief was soon proven otherwise by at least two different people, and they claim that pronuncing 호랑이/고양이/아지랭이 with the "double ㅇ" sounded weird.

So here's the problem: I still cannot hear the difference between the "double ㅇ" sound in words like 호박잎/콩잎/부엌일 and the supposedly "not-double ㅇ" sound in words like 호랑이/고양이/아지랭이, let alone to actually pronounce them in different fashion. It would be immensely helpful if someone could shed insight into this. Thank you guys very much!

Edit Here's a link to a song containing the word "아지랭이", it occurs at around 24:43

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  • I think the case '호박잎/콩잎' and '부엌일' have to be distinguished: I think the pronunciation of ㅇ at the former is closer to /ŋn/, while that at the latter is /k'ŋ/.
    – Hanul Jeon
    Mar 24 at 23:39
  • @HanulJeon Could you elaborate? My dictionary says the standard pronunciation of 부엌일 is [부엉닐].
    – user23823
    Apr 11 at 12:00
  • This is my hunch, so I cannot justify my comment to a full extent. Also, the Korean script may not reflect the full pronunciation.
    – Hanul Jeon
    Apr 11 at 15:04
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Let me point out that 아지랭이 is a non-standard form of 아지랑이(haze). However, 아지랭이 behaved as it was a standard word for years. Along with my hunch, it suggests that child songs you listened reflect older standard Korean, not the current one, so it may follow a different pronunciation rule that is obsolete now. (Note that, child songs you linked sound old-fashioned, and this is the reason for my hunch.)

I think sticking on double ŋ presents is a bad idea to understand the pronunciation of the given words. As the previous answer carefully: it is just derived from ㄴ addition as the previous answer pointed out, and the addition ŋ sound is a variant of ㄴ(/n/).

ㄴ addition can appear when the given word is a 통사적 합성어. Both 호박잎(호박+잎), 콩잎(콩+잎), and 부엌일(부엌+일) is an example of 통사적 합성어. However, none of 호랑이, 고양이, 아지랑이 is even a compound word.

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  • Sorry for replying so late. I understand the rule of ㄴ-insertion, but in this recording the word 호박잎 is pronounced with not an ㄴ sound but ŋ as you pointed out. Would you help me understand: (1) if this is also an old-fashioned pronunciation, and (2) is the pronunciation of 호박잎 in this specific recording different from how one would normally pronounce 호랑이 or 고양이?
    – user23823
    Apr 11 at 12:04
  • @user23823 Would you clarify your comments? First, does it comprise two questions? If were, I can only make a guess for your first question since I have no concrete evidence for old pronunciation of 호박잎 and 아지랭이.
    – Hanul Jeon
    Apr 11 at 15:11
  • For the second question (if I get it correctly) I need more elaboration for your question. Are you asking about whether there is any pronunciation change of 호랑이 and 고양이?
    – Hanul Jeon
    Apr 11 at 15:15
  • My second question was this: is the pronunciation of 호박잎 in that recording the same as the way one would normally pronounce 호랑이 and 고양이? I used to believe so but someone told me otherwise. Basically he said that the recording pronounced 호박잎 with a "double ㅇ" but when he tries to pronounce 호랑이 and 고양이 with the "double ㅇ" it sounded really weird. But I was not able to tell the difference.
    – user23823
    Apr 12 at 3:18
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    Yes, their pronunciation is not [호라기] and [고야기]. There is no reason to appear ㄱ unlike 호박잎 (ㄱ of 박, which is changed to final ㅇ sound due to ㄴ addition.)
    – Hanul Jeon
    Apr 13 at 13:38
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It should be a composed word to make ㄴ addition.

호박잎 = 호박(pumpkin) + 잎(leaf)

콩잎 = 콩(bean) + 잎(leaf)

부엌일 = 부엌(kitchen) + 일(work, chore)

and it doesn't have to be double ㅇ. 꽃잎[꼰닙] would be the case.

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  • Thank you and sorry for replying so late. I understand the ㄴ addition that you are referring to. But in the recording the word 호박잎 is pronounced with no ㄴ sound. I used to believe that the sound in the recording was the same as in 호랑이 or 고양이, but some native guy came along and told me that it was different, and now I am confused.
    – user23823
    Apr 11 at 12:03
  • @user23823 I guess the singer is taking the lyric as '호박 잎' instead of '호박잎'. In this case, it is two words so no ㄴ addition. Since both of them still have same meaning, Koreans do not make distinctions between them.(That's why lyrics you linked use '호박잎). For normal use, (not for scholarship or news anchor) it is okay to take both pronunciations right .
    – KimKW
    Apr 13 at 4:00
  • Thanks. I have never thought about this possibility before, but it sounds interesting. May I assume you are a native speaker of Korean? It's intriguing how different people can have different ideas even as native speakers.
    – user23823
    Apr 13 at 13:25
  • @user23823 Yes I am a native Korean. Wrong pronunciation happens at many words in daily conversation so I recommend you not to apply standard rules for every single word.
    – KimKW
    Apr 15 at 0:58
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I googled a bit and found that that double ㅇ thing jick was referring to is called 성문 파열음(聲門破裂音, glottal stop).

The symbol that represents this sound are [ʔ] in the International Phonetic Alphabet and the Korean letter (된이응) which has been obsolete and existed before modern Korean.

Although their current writing system can't express such a sound, some Korean words still have it verbally as of this day.

  • 일(一) has this pronunciation but 일(業) does not.

  • 호박잎/콩잎/부엌일 has this pronunciation whereas 호랑이/고양이/아지랭이 does not.

  • In 동남방언, E(이) has this pronunciation but 2(이) does not.

Neither [ŋŋ] nor (쌍이응) denotes this sound. I'm guessing that the ㄱ-like sound you heard may be one thing and the 된소리 jick heard is another.

I'm not an expert in this area so as to why I can't really give you clear details. How does one sound differ from the other? I honestly don't know. It just does.

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