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I'm totally a beginner in Japanese.

I'm confused about the pronunciation of 研修生. In the textbook, it's written as けんしゅうせい. When I listen to the tape, I found that う is not pronounced. Could anybody explain this phenomenon to me?

Furthermore, could somebody recommend a reference for this kind of pronunciation question?

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Here is another audio clip for reference ^^ – summea Jun 10 '13 at 2:58
I would say that the う probably should be pretty clearly pronounced in this situation. It'd help if you could provide a copy of the relevant part of the particular recording you're working with. – ssb Jun 10 '13 at 4:23
Ohhh I've never noticed the う gets unvoiced when I speak fast... probably because of the following unvoiced "s" sound. This doesn't happen when I say 研修員/けんしゅういん(kenshuuin). – user1016 Jun 10 '13 at 8:08
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You have to count the syllables. しゅう is twice as long as しゅ, but the vowel is the same. (An alternative way of writing the pronunciation would be シュー and シュ, which makes the vowel length more obvious.)

Similarly, せい is usually pronounced セー (as a long vowel エ).

Native speakers of English, for example, have a high risk of not being able to pick up on the length of a syllable. This fact is made worse when one considers that sometimes romanized Japanese is displayed (incorrectly so) without the macron, e.g. kenshusei, which should be kenshūsei.

Counting syllables is not only important for vowels, but also for "consonants" (namely ん) as in こんにちは, often mispronounced as konichiwa (no syllable only for "n").

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