I thought that ㅅ is pronounced /t̚/ at the end of a syllable block, but it seems to be an /s/ in 것은, even though on its own is /kʌ̹t̚/.

Does it depend on word boundaries, or is it just irregular?

  • 1
    ...I need to go learn IPA notation...
    – RCIX
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 21:31
  • @RCIX /k/, more rounded UH, and /t/ with no audible release. That’s it. Commented Sep 8, 2021 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


ㅆ (/s͈/) and ㅅ (/sh/) are pronounced as /t̚/ whenever the following conditions are all met:

  1. ㅅ/ㅆ is on the 받침 (the final consonant of a block).
  2. ㅅ/ㅆ is not immediately followed by ㅇ in the initial position of the next block.
  3. ㅅ/ㅆ is not immediately followed by one of the other nasal consonants (ㄴ and ㅁ) in the initial position of the next block.

This means that:

  • 있어 is pronounced the same as 이써 /is͈ʌ/ (Condition #2 is not met).
  • 있는 is pronounced the same as 인는 /innɯn/ (Condition #3 is not met).
  • 있다 is pronounced the same as 읻따 /it̚t͈a/ (All the conditions are met).
  • If ㅅ is immediately followed by ㄹ in the initial position of the next block, the ㅅㄹ is pronounced as ㄴㄴ (/nn/). You will find this when some Koreans read loanwords such as 핫라인 ("hotline"), 풋라이트 ("footlight"), and 마켓 리더 ("market leader"); they pronounce 핫라인 as 한나인, 풋라이트 as 푼나이트, and 마켓 리더 as 마켄니더. However, please note that there are no official rules regarding how to pronounce loanwords.
    – Klmo
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 18:46
  • @Klmo I would pronounce those as 할라인, 풀라이트, 마켈리더. I think this is a free variation, and a native speaker will equally recognize either direction of assimilation. The "official" rule explicitly refuses assimilation in such situation, however. (See 표준발음법 21항.)
    – Ignatius
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 7:08
  • @Taegyung Although the National Institute of Korean Language allows both 온나인 and 올라인 for 온라인, pronouncing 핫라인 as 한나인 is more reasonable because of 표준 발음법 제19항. "제19항에 대한 다른 의견" mentions why ㄷ was excluded, which implies that ㄷㄹ could be taken as ㄴㄴ. I deem that 제20항 cannot be applied to 핫라인 because 핫라인 is not 한라인; 핫라인 should first be taken as 핟 + 라인. In addition, pronouncing 핫라 as 할라 may confuse listeners and they think of 한라.
    – Klmo
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 18:42
  • The correct pronunciation of 곶리도, which is not a loanword, is 곤니도; you can notice "ㅈ → [ㄷ]" and "ㄷㄹ → [ㄴㄴ]." The same rule would be applied to 핫라인 if it were not a loanword.
    – Klmo
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 1:24
  • @Taegyung I have found that a grammar book, "한국어의 발음" by 배주채, mentions that 핫라인 is pronounced as 한나인 (link here). Now, it is certain that we should pronounce ㄷㄹ (and also ㅅㄹ, ㅈㄹ, ...) as ㄴㄴ.
    – Klmo
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 5:35

Refer back to your pronunciation rules for this one. You're correct that ㅅ and ㅆ exhibit closure as 받침. But in this case, you have a ㅅ and an ㅇ next to each other in the order that they will be read. For that reason, re-syllabification occurs.

So, instead of 것은 -> 거-뜬 or 거-튼, it's 것은 -> 거슨.

Hope this helps!

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