How words and characters in Japanese sound when spoken aloud.

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9
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a difference between すみません (sumimasen) and すいません (suimasen?)

I'm at the proverbial izakaya and my friend tells me one is more polite. I think theyre the same. Who's right? When can I use one or the other?
30
votes
3answers
9k views

What are the differences between じ and ぢ, and ず and づ?

The Japanese hiragana and katakana syllabaries can mostly be described as phonetic. But there are two exceptions, the two pairs of syllables modified to be voiced with the dakuten diacritic which ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you pronounce the Japanese “r”?

How do you pronounce the Japanese "r"? Is it more like an "l" or something inbetween? Would there be any picture or video explaining it correctly, please link it!
31
votes
2answers
4k views

What are the rules regarding “mute vowels” (“u” after “s” and “i” after “sh”)?

When you first begin to learn Japanese you are taught that Japanese has no stress and each syllable should be pronounced equally. You also learn that certain vowels are not pronounced, or only ...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between tori vs. dori?

In Aikido, different dojos seem to latch on to using either dori or tori when describing grabbing attacks. For instance one dojo might say: Katate Dori Another would say: Katate Tori Each dojo ...
14
votes
4answers
751 views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
29
votes
6answers
3k views

How important is one's pitch when speaking Japanese?

I'm aware of some words in Japanese that have the same reading but different meaning depending on the pitch of each syllable. The canonical example is はし (hashi), which can mean either chopsticks ...
25
votes
1answer
3k views

Why are the particles “は” (ha⇒wa), “へ” (he⇒e), and “を” (wo⇒o) not spelled phonetically?

As far as I know only three words (or particles) have irregular, non-phonetic spelling in Japanese: "は" - The topic particle is pronounced "wa" but the kana is otherwise pronounced "ha" "へ" - The ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is は pronounced as わ when used as a topic particle?

The particle は is pronounced similarly to わ (unlike the rest of the ハ行 kana) when used as a particle; why is this? What historical shifts went on to cause this irregularity?
23
votes
4answers
8k views

How to choose between “よん” (yon) vs “し” (shi) for “四” (4) and “しち” (shichi) vs “なな” (nana) for “七” (7)?

Two numbers in Japanese have two pronunciation alternatives. 四 / 4 can be pronounced either "よん" (yon) or "し" (shi) 七 / 7 can be pronounced either "しち" (shichi) or "なな" (nana) I know that "し" ...
19
votes
4answers
6k views

What is 「々」 and how does it affect meaning and pronunciation?

I've seen this symbol in various places, such as 「日々」, 「色々」, and 「人々」. What is it, and how does it affect the meaning and pronunciation of the word?
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is 「昨夜」 pronounced as 「ゆうべ」 {yuube} and 「今日」 as 「きょう」 {kyou}?

「ゆう」 is neither the kun'yomi nor on'yomi of 「昨」 and 「べ」 is not a pronunciation of 「夜」 either. The same can be said about the pronunciation 「きょう」 for 「今日」. So how come the pronunciations of the two ...
12
votes
4answers
386 views

Pronunciation of 閾値 : いきち or しきいち?

Last week I saw the word 閾値 and when looking it up in Gjiten I see two pronunciations, both marked as "popular": 閾値 (いきち) (n) threshold (amount, dose, etc.); (P); 閾値 (しきいち) (n) threshold (amount, ...
19
votes
6answers
3k views

Pronouncing が as 'nga'

I'm a beginner and am learning from CD (Pimsleur). There are two native speakers going through the dialogue. One, the man, pronounces が as I would expect - 'ga'. The other (female) pronounces it as ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

What differences should I look out for between male vs female speech?

I was told a story where a male westerner learnt Japanese from his girlfriend and ended up speaking more like a female. The storyteller thought this was hilarious. What important differences should I ...