Im trying to learn the contracted hiragana pronunciation and I'm having a problem with the y part.for example きゃ is supposed to be pronounced kya but i feel like some people pronounce it like Ka . Should i too pronounce it as ka or are people just pronouncing kya fast. I Also noticed that with し じ ち people just skip the y when pronouncing and are even written without y. So my question is should i pronounce the y or skip it? or do i only skip it with し じ ち?

  • 2
    It sounds like you're referring to romaji when you say "and are even written without y". Romaji for learners is designed to elicit close pronunciations from foreigners, so it shouldn't be taken as any kind of factual element of the pronunciation of natives. I would recommend listening to more recordings of natives pronouncing words with きゃ or しゃ or じゃ, and you will hear distinct differences from か or し or じ.
    – Leebo
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 2:50
  • 1
    @Leebo except with しゃ the ゃ is only contributing the vowel sound. Is there a dialect in which the "y" is still pronounced here? There seems to be a number of approaches to romaji these days, some going to far to be faithful to the kana spelling rather than the pronunciation and thus obscuring the actually pronunciation. And perhaps depending on the native language for the OP, perhaps these differences are harder to hear? Just wondering.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 3:07
  • 1
    It's not about whether you pronounce the "y" or not. The difference is in the consonant itself. It's just that this difference is already clearer with し, じ and ち without ゃ. The consonants in か and き are also different, only not so much as to warrant different IPA signs.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 3:50
  • 2
    As suggested in the comments, the romaji kya is just a way to represent the Japanese sound きゃ and does not necessarily mean the sound contains k*/*y*/*a consecutively. The y here marks the k is palatalized. If you know Cyrillic alphabets, か and きゃ could be transcribed (very roughly) as ка and кя, respectively.
    – sundowner
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 12:47
  • 1
    @KarlKnechtel You can read en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postalveolar_consonant , although this article is internally inconsistent in used nomenclature and symbols. Postalveolar consonants can be generally divided into unpalatalized (e.g. [s̠ z̠ ʂ ʐ]), weakly palatalized (technically palato-alveolar) (e.g. [ʃ ʒ]) and strongly palatalized (technically alveolo-palatal) (e.g. [ɕ ʑ]). Mandarin and Polish have both unpalatalized and strongly palatalized postalveolar consonants, Japanese and Korean have only strongly palatalized ones, while English and French have weakly palatalized ones.
    – Arfrever
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 22:07

1 Answer 1


In the youtube video you point to, the pronunciation used is pretty standard.

Generally, when you use the small versions of ゃ, ゅ, ょ, with any of き, に, ひ, び, ぴ, み, or り, the "i" sound is not pronounced, in its place you pronounce "ya", "yu", or "yo" according to ゃ, ゅ, ょ.

However, with し、じ、ち、or ぢ, the "i" sound is again replaced, but the "y" is lost. Never the less, the pronunciation of the original consonant sound is modified. So, しゃ is pronounced as "sha", しょ is pronounced as "sho".

Essentially, before ゃ, ゅ, ょ the consonant sounds for し、じ、ち、or ぢ are changed to "sh", "j", "ch", and "j" (though in some dialects ぢ has its own distinct pronunciation). As the video you linked to explains, ぢ isn't really used except in very specially cases and not generally in combination with ゃ, ゅ, ょ.

You linked to forvo for ぎゃ. Indeed, they are pronouncing it as "gya". Some folks might pronounce this "g" as "ng" in the English "sing" (but it seems this pronouncing is falling out of use though it was quite predominant in Kyushu when I lived there).

I am not a linguist. However, it often seems to me that in certain combinations like きゃ, きゅ, or きょ what's happening is a palatalization of the preceding consonant. To an English ear, this still seems like saying "ky" but there's a softer touch to the "y".

  • thanks for your help. Do you have any recommendations for resources that are free to access? Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 3:56
  • @EllhbaOussama Unfortunately, I do not. There are a lot of resources on youtube, but many assume a moderate degree of fluency and many others start from absolute zero. The problem is there doesn't seem to be much inbetween these two extremes.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 4:40
  • "However, it often seems to me that in certain combinations like きゃ, きゅ, or きょ what's happening is a palatalization of the preceding consonant." I am at most an amateur, self-studied linguist, but I agree with this assessment. I'm not sure if "softer touch" is how I'd describe it personally. I would say "more blended" or something like that. Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 12:07
  • @EllhbaOussama There are useful resources, including sound samples, in English Wikipedia (I do not know about Arabic Wikipedia). E.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatalization_(phonetics) , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consonant , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_alveolo-palatal_fricative , en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_alveolo-palatal_affricate
    – Arfrever
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 21:43
  • @A.Ellett Regarding じ and ぢ, in Kagoshima dialects which preserve historical distinction, じ has fricative [ʑ] (i.e. voiced equivalent of し [ɕ]), while ぢ has affricate [d͡ʑ] (i.e. voiced equivalent of ち [t͡ɕ]). See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yotsugana
    – Arfrever
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 22:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .