Do Japanese people call their money "yen" even though there is no YE sound in their language?

  • I wrote a post about the pronunciation of '(y)en' some time back, here it is if interested: wp.me/p6Igu0-sK
    – Locksleyu
    Jun 10, 2016 at 23:14
  • I think if you hear it pronounced as [jɛn] instead of [ɛn], then it's probably preceded by ん, which can cause nasalization of adjacent vowels, making it sound somewhat like a palatal approximant.
    – Kurausukun
    Jun 11, 2016 at 2:19

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is a Japanese word.

We call it Yen. Only you see is Y and it is pronounced as En.

  • Ugh, then I will delete the "etymology".
    – user7644
    Jun 11, 2016 at 1:00

Japanese don't pronounce 円 as "Yen" like "i-en." We pronounce it clearly "えん," though I don't know how to describe Japanese "え" sound by using alphabet and phonetic sybols.

As a side story, I have a memory of having read an episode in some book that 伊藤博文 - Ito Hirobumi, the Japan's first Prime Minister proposed to use the denomination of 円 for Japan's currencies, when the cabinet members of the new government were discussing how to call the unit of new currency that replace old currencies (両, 文, 朱) issued under the Tokugawa regime at the cabinet meeting soon after the launch of the Meiji government. He showed the round shape of a ring with his thumb and index finger, and said "円 is a familiar shape of coins and it signifies PEACE and perfection, which is a suitable name for the new currency."

Provided this is the provenance of 円, it's no wonder to pronounce it as えん - en, not yen.

  • 2
    There is a case where it can still sound like 'yen' in modern Toukyou-area Japanese, and that's after ん; but any え after ん sounds like 'ye'.
    – Sjiveru
    Jun 11, 2016 at 2:51
  • @sjiveru. In local parlance it may be. But it's not a standard Japanese pronounciation. Just look at the heading in hiragana of 円 in anyone of Japanese language dictionaries, you'll find えん、not "y(i)en", which means "gastritis." Jun 11, 2016 at 4:47

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