I started studying kanji and found out about sokuon. But I have noticed that other than the last つ of the first syllable, there are other syllables that also can cause sokuon.

What I want to know is which syllables can cause sokuon to occur other than the last つ.

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    I imagine you've encountered 学 (がく) > 学校 (がっこう) if you've studied enough to encounter the word sokuon
    – Leebo
    Commented May 16 at 21:55
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    I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're making between "proper" sokuon and presumably other kinds of sokuon. The pronunciation represented by "a small っ" in any context is called sokuon, no?
    – Leebo
    Commented May 16 at 22:36
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    "Doesn't this only happen when the last syllable of the first word is つ?" What makes you think this is the case? Both the high vowels /i/ and /u/ are susceptible to resulting in sokuon. It's just that /u/ is more common, but it's not the only one. Make no mistake, the small っ is a mere spelling, it does not imply the original sound must contain the vowel /u/. Commented May 16 at 23:00
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    That's what I want to know. I want to know which syllables cause sokuon to occur other than the last つ. Commented May 16 at 23:03
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    As far as I can tell, ち,き,つ,く. The historial ふ, now う, rarely occurs. ち/つ + /s, t, k, h/ > /ss, tt, kk, pp/; き/く + /k/ > /kk/; rarely き/く + /h/ > /pp/, for example in 北方; historical ふ + /s, t, k, h/ > /ss, tt, kk, pp/, for example in 十歳 Commented May 16 at 23:11

1 Answer 1


contraction of certain syllables into gemination (the sound change is called [促音化]{そくおんか}) is something that happens all the time in Japanese, from the ~て form of verbs, to the prefix ぶっ~ from ぶち~ as in ぶっ飛ばす, or randomly in certain compounds like [取]{と}っ[手]{て} from [取]{と}り[手]{て}. what I'm describing in this answer is how sokuonka affects [漢語]{かんご}, Sino-Japanese words with on'yomi readings. sokuonka in native terms will usually be spelled out in hiragana for you (exceptions like [切手]{きって} do exist, but there's not a lot of them), so you don't have to guess when it happens.

~ち and ~つ endings will practically always contract to ~っ if they're before a k-, t- (incl. つ and ち), s- (incl. し) or h- (incl. ふ) sound:

  • [日]{にっ}[記]{き} < に + き
  • [出]{しゅっ}[発]{ぱつ} < しゅ + はつ
    (here the /h/ shifts to a /p/ because it's doubled; this also happens if it's after an ん, as in [先]{せん}[輩]{ぱい}.)
  • [一]{いっ}[生]{しょう} < い + しょう
  • same for [必死]{ひっし}, [喝采]{かっさい}, [失笑]{しっしょう}, and a lot more

~く will only contract before /k/, as in [学校]{がっこう} and [国歌]{こっか}. only in counters, you can see ~く contract before a /h/ sound, as in [六杯]{ろっぱい} and [百本]{ひゃっぽん} but this isn't a normal thing that happens in other words.

~き usually doesn't contract. 的確 is てきかく. but in a few words, you get a contraction, like with 石 (せき > せっ) in [石鹸]{せっけん} and [石棺]{せっかん} 'stone coffin, sarcophagus'.

lastly, sometimes a reading that doesn't have a final "hard" consonant will trigger a contraction (with a change in the vowel), as in [合戦]{かっせん} < こう + せん, or [十歳]{じゅっさい} from じゅう + さい. this is because historically the [合]{こう > かっ} in 合戦 was pronounced kap, and kap-sen contracted into kassen, while if it was by itself, it evolved to kapu, then kafu > kau > . same process for 十 as in 十歳, which was zip, and zip-sai became zissai (= jissai) — later, it evolved to modern jussai by analogy with , while standalone zip became zipu, ziu and then zyū (= ). the contraction of 十 before one of /k s t h/ in counters is very common, as in [十回]{じゅっかい} and [二十分]{にじゅっぷん}, so watch out for that.

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