How words and characters in Japanese sound when spoken aloud.

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32
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2answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
5k 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" ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Why the “H” is pronounced Sh in some cases.

I came from Stack Overflow and new to Japanese language. Happy I found out about this great place. My first question is about the rules of pronunciation of the letter "H". Like "Hijutsu" or "Hiyori". ...
28
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
607 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

When Chinese personal names are written in Japanese in kanji is there always an obvious reading?

In their comment to an answer on the question "Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana rather than Romaji?", user sawa says: ... Chinese names should be written in kanji rather than ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Actual phonetic realization of “devoiced” vowels

Descriptions of Japanese phonology (such as Wikipedia's) usually describe high vowels between voiceless consonants (or word-finally) as "devoiced". For example, the pronunciation of ⟨圧⟩ 'pressure' and ...
20
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
565 views

What changes are made to the pronunciation of gairaigo?

What changes are usually made to the pronounciation of gairaigo? I notice that vowels are often added between multiple consonants and to the end of words (eg "programmer" => "puroguramaa" (プログラマー)), ...
20
votes
2answers
888 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?
10
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
23
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2answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

What does the little っ (tsu) signify when at the end of a word?

The small っ (tsu) is usually used before a consonant to indicate gemination, less technically known as doubled consonants, which is how they are transliterated in romaji. I have seen it at the end of ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

R sound vs L sound

First, I'd like to mention that I've seen this question, which is related but doesn't quite seem to be a duplicate. I've covered some Hiragana lessons and it seems there is no L in Japanese. The ...
16
votes
1answer
336 views

When is 行く pronounced as いく, and when is it ゆく?

Are there any rules or guidelines as to when to pronounce 行く as いく or ゆく? I looked it up on jisho.org, and the two pronunciations have the exact same definition. I tend to hear ゆく more often in ...
18
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
7
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7answers
8k views

I am looking for an online Japanese dictionary with audio pronunciations

Does anyone know any online Japanese dictionary which provides audio reading?
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!
7
votes
2answers
269 views

Why is debug デバッグ but bug is バグ?

I'm interested in why the extra small tsu in included in the word デバッグ but not バグ. Are there any rules governing voicing in words formed via reduplication? Lyman's rule may explain this, but does ...
19
votes
4answers
5k 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?
8
votes
1answer
234 views

How do you geminate ら-line sounds?

This is my current understanding of gemination (促音, /Q/, small っ): in native Japanese words, only the following sounds can be geminated: /k/, /s/, /t/, /p/. Additionally, in loanwords we can geminate ...
8
votes
3answers
341 views

Repeating the vowel sound of the mora that precedes gemination in songs

I noticed that in songs, the vowel sounds of the morae that come before geminations are sometimes repeated. For example, the first lyric line of “マジカルちょーだいっ” is sung as しらんぷりをしたあって where the line is ...
8
votes
2answers
399 views

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう?

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう ? For example, in this sentence 10人中3人はビデオを持っている which pronunciation should we use? What about this: そのピアニストの演奏中、彼らは一心に耳を傾けた。
6
votes
4answers
171 views

ブラウザ or ブラウザー? Words borrowed from English which end with -er

I noticed that some (most? all?) words that were borrowed from English and end with -er in English can have either short or long vowel at the end: browser - can be ブラウザ or ブラウザー driver - can be ドライバ ...
3
votes
5answers
5k views

Why do Japanese speakers have difficulty pronouncing “L”?

Why is it that native speakers of Japanese have a hard time pronouncing "l"? Whenever a western word contains "L" I see that they pronounce it "ru", "ra", "ro", "ri", or "re".
1
vote
1answer
435 views

things that look like long vowels but aren't

Are there words written with "ei" or "ou" that are pronounced with both vowels instead of as a long vowel? I think this is true in cases like 拾う and している, but are there cases of it happening where ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the more common pronunciation for the romaji letter 'Z' in Japanese?

I was on the phone with NTT the other day and things were going well (or as good as they could), until I had to spell some email address for the customer rep, and fell upon the letter 'Z'. ...
13
votes
1answer
541 views

Voiced or unvoiced syllables in compound words

Examples first. First example: 空 {そら}. Almost all compound nouns for which 空 is the second component pronounce it as ぞら (zo ra): 青空 {あおぞら}, 夜空 {よぞら}, 星空 {ほしぞら}. There is at least one exception ...
9
votes
3answers
587 views

How is リィ pronounced?

I'm confused about リィ. (That's big リ followed by little ィ.) Although this combination isn't part of the official orthography (as far as I know), it seems to be fairly common. I asked a Japanese ...
8
votes
1answer
457 views

Difference between うーん and ううん

What is the difference between うーん and ううん? In a comment on Pronunciation of ううん, paullb said that he usually sees the negative interjection ううん written as うーん. This confused me, because I thought ...
8
votes
2answers
379 views

How to say 24 divided by 8 equals 3

Pretty sure you have to use 割 but I don't know which pronunciation to use and how to say "equals" in this context.
7
votes
1answer
402 views

Pronunciation of しゃ, し, しゅ, しぇ, and しょ

Now I understand that although all the morae mentioned in the title are written in Hepburn as "sha shi shu she sho", they are actually palatalized and sound quite different (the little や makes it ...
7
votes
2answers
334 views

Utterance initial [ɾ]

According to The sounds of Japanese (Vance 2008): When /ɾ/ is the first phoneme in an utterance, the tip of the tongue is already resting lightly on the alveolar ridge, and /ɾ/ is produced by ...
5
votes
1answer
176 views

Is む sometimes pronounced more like ん?

I'm curious what the relationship is between む and ん. I have the feeling that sometimes, む is pronounced more like ん: むむむ: is this really /mumumu/? Or does it become /mmm/? うむむ: is this really ...
5
votes
1answer
219 views

Pronunciation of ううん

The pitch contour of the interjection ううん has been described as high, low, middle. Alternatively, it has been described as a falling-rising tone. In either case, this appears to be unique in ...
5
votes
1answer
283 views

Pronunciation of 日 in compound words

I learnt from my teacher that the days of the month from 1 to 10 use kun and irregular pronunciations: 一日: ついたち (irregular) 二日: ふつか (kun) 三日: みっか (kun) ... 十日: とおか (kun) But for words like 一日目, 二日間 ...
5
votes
1answer
152 views

クラウド上で - pronunciation?

I've seen 上で quite a few times recently, in contexts like: In the cloud クラウド上で and: On the computer コンピュータ上 In this case, is it pronounced うえ, as in クラウドうえで, or じょう? Silly ...
3
votes
2answers
216 views

Insertion of “y” sound between vowels

I was watching some anime today, and I heard "y" sounds in places I didn't expect. Here's a sound clip (MP3) and my transcription: 私の世界へようこそ。 今やこの世界をコントロールできる唯一の人間だ。 There are two "y" ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

1カ所: いっかしょ or いちかしょ?

What is the correct pronunciation for 1カ所 ? It means: 1 place Context: ユーティリティ関数として定義されているわりには1カ所からしか呼ばれていない。 It is defined as a utility function, but only called in one place.
2
votes
1answer
109 views

Pronunciation of interpoint when listing items

話者の希望・意向を表す文や働きかけの文は来ない。 This is a case when interpoint (中黒) is used for listing like a conjunction. I wonder how would a native speaker pronounce such an expression? Simply きぼういこう きぼう (pause) いこう ...
1
vote
1answer
206 views

When does /r/ become a trill?

In a video that snailboat pointed out in a comment on my question about geminated /r/, at least one speaker of Japanese sounds to me like they trill both the /r/s in タリアテッレ. It's my understanding ...