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How to properly pronounce コップ (meaning: cup)? Should it be コ + short and quick ツ + soundless プ or something different? BTW, is there a good online source where I can look up word with proper Japanese pronunciation?

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You can try this website to look up pronunciations for a limited set of words. Here is the pronunciation for cup. –  CookieMonster Aug 9 at 23:58
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コップ means "glass", not "cup". –  非回答者 Aug 10 at 0:00
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@非回答者 コップ does not mean glass. It's actually cup. A glass is グラス. For example, ワイングラス is a wine glass. But many often use コップ to mean both. –  CookieMonster Aug 10 at 0:02
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コップ is roughly a term used for something that holds liquid for drinking. But when there is a need to differentiate specific types of コップs, コップ means cup and not glass. For example, it'd be wrong to say ワインコップ. –  CookieMonster Aug 10 at 0:08
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@Sjiveru Wikipedia is helpful! But I'm not sure it's actually "the best"―I would rather recommend books on phonetics and phonology, for example Vance 2008 and Labrune 2012. By the way, there are more cases where pronunciation is not necessarily predictable from spelling, most notably pitch accent but also devoicing and the pronunciation of certain long vowels (and certain other minor exceptions). –  snailboat Aug 10 at 11:16

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As for the pronunciation, read as it is written in katakana. There is no special rule you have to consider.

However, both コップ and カップ are commonly used in Japanese, and that may be the source of confusion. So let's see the difference.

  • コップ: pronounced as KOPPU. This roughly corresponds to a mug, but can refer to a cylinder-shaped cup made of glass like this. A paper cup is called 紙コップ.
  • カップ: pronounced as KAPPU. Used for コーヒーカップ、ティーカップ、マグカップ、etc. Interestingly, a mug is コップ, but マグカップ is more commonly used than マグコップ. I don't know why. And World Cup is ワールドカップ, not ワールドコップ.
  • グラス: a drinking glass. ワイングラス, カクテルグラス, etc. Glass as material is called ガラス.

Google's image search would be the best tool to grasp the idea. I think you have to just memorize when to use コップ and when to use カップ...

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This is confusing. My dictionaries tell me that コップ is a glass, a glass is コップ or グラス, and a mug is a マグ. –  Tim Aug 10 at 2:27
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A ガラスのコップ is also a kind of グラス, but コップ by itself is not always a グラス. Because コップ can be made of plastic, metal or wood. A mug can also be referred to as マグ(カップ) specifically, but I think many native speakers just call it (プラスチックの)コップ in daily conversations. And a グラス is not necessarily a コップ, either; a wine glass is ワイングラス, never ワインコップ. Yes this is confusing, but I recommend you learn by examples, not by dictionaries, in this case. –  naruto Aug 10 at 2:43

(This is intended to be a "simple answer". I assumed the OP does not just want to know how to pronounce コップ, which is relatively trivial - see note - but when to use コップ and when to use カップ, which is confusing.)

There are two similar words with different meanings - コップ and カップ, kOppu and kAppu.

カップ (kAppu) is the general word,

It is typically used to refer to  

  • cups that go with saucers, such as a tea-cup,
  • cups you win, such as the Soccer World Cup
  • most other cup related derivatives such as brassiere cup (ブラジャーのカップ), cupcake (カップケーキ) or pot-noodle (カップヌードル)

コップ (kOppu) refers to cups for drinking

This is usually a  

  • glass tumbler ((ガラス)コップ) but also includes
  • paper cups (紙コップ) and plastic cups (プラスチックコップ)

According to Wikipedia, コップ comes from the Dutch word for cup, "kop". You can consider it one type of カップ.

The same phenomenon applies to the word for glass for which there are two words:

ガラス (gArasu) = the material itself (hence ガラスコップ)  

グラス (gUrasu) = the drinking cup made of glass, including ガラスコップ and ワイングラス

This time ガラス comes from the Dutch word "glas", グラス comes from English word "glass".

Note
- You pronounce it the way it is written and can hear it at this site http://ja.forvo.com/word/コップ/  (http://ja.forvo.com/search/カップ/)

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