How do the Japanese actually pronounce words such as マッハ (Mahha - Mach) or シャッフル (Shaffuru - Shuffle)? I know gemination is a feature of Japanese phonology, but I've only managed to articulate such clusters as /pp/, /kk/, /tt/, /ss/. I'm not sure about /hh/ or /ff/ (?). Any suggestions?

  • 5
    ProTip™: "Gemination" = twice as long. Commented May 24, 2015 at 15:52
  • Can anyone provide a sound sample or diagram or something to illustrate the articulation? Commented May 26, 2015 at 2:57

2 Answers 2


Just start the initial sound of the kana (ハ or フ) early and hold it. It's easier to show this with romaji:

"mahhha" (extended huffing sound in the middle)

"shafffuru" (keep blowing air through your pursed lips for a little longer than usual after the シャ)

It's the same as with words like レッスン where you extends the "ssss" sound.

EDIT: And for more fun, there is an Italian-style rolled "r" in Japanese (for speakers able to do it) in Italian loanwords like タリアテッレ. Speakers unable to make the sound may just say it as タリアテルレ or some such.


ッ/っ creates a glottal stop. If you want to hear a glottal stop, listen to a Scottish person say "butter".(bu(pause)er)

Normally, when one is created in Japanese it doubles the nearest hard constanant, making it easier to pronounce. As in 日本 にっぽん Nip(pause)pon).

In words with soft constnants "ー" is often used, but that lengthens the sound. Like in セーフ. (se-e-fu)

In シャッフル it is easier to pronounce if a gap if left. So it does the same as in にっぽん but without doubling any constanants.


  • 2
    っ is definitely not a universal glottal stop. Much more commonly, it just represents an geminated consonant, as in the case of 切手, and is only a true glottal stop when not next to a consonant (as in the exclamation あっ). The asker gives 2 words where っ is before a consonant, so I don't really see how much of what is brought up is related to these cases. Also not totally sure where ー comes into it.
    – sqrtbottle
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:15
  • I meant to say it creates a stop consonant, not specifically a glottal stop. "h" is only a constanant in "ha" not in "mah" so it cannot be geminated. "f" is a softer constanant so it slurs together, but that creates such a soft sound that it becomes almost non-existant.
    – Laiseran
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 22:55

You must log in to answer this question.

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