I'm a super beginner, but I like to listen to Japanese music and I often hear some "L" sounds. Given the fact that there is no "L" column on hiragana tables, I assume that is some other sound, perhaps "R", being pronounced as "L" (even though I hear the R's normally).

Can someone please explain me that?

  • 1
    Can you provide an example?
    – Jack Bosma
    Jan 16, 2017 at 14:36
  • Umi Sora Sora, I can hear she saying "...umi sola sola...". Jan 16, 2017 at 14:53
  • 2
    See: R sound vs L sound and also this answer
    – Flaw
    Jan 16, 2017 at 15:33
  • I don't know the artist, but is the music possibly intended for a more international market? In such case sometimes they will try for a more western pronunciation. Or the artist may know a western language, which would provide the skill to differentiate.
    – user3169
    Jan 17, 2017 at 6:57

2 Answers 2


I think it is because we don't have an exact version of the R present in Japanese, which is somewhere between L and R. When I was learning English I couldn't tell the difference between beach and b**ch, which proved to be quite comedic, however, the point is sounds are unique for each language. Our brain will interpret them as the closest thing we know, especially since the differences are often minimal. I also feel like I sometimes hear a clean L in Japanese. It could be due to different accents where the Japanese R is a bit closer to our L. Don't quote me on this though.

  • I see. But is there a reason why this happens more often on music, or is it just me? Jan 17, 2017 at 16:23

It's because the Japanese r is pronounced as a tap or a liquid. Liquids are smoother sounds like the English r or l, and you can hold them longer, which may be the reason some Japanese artists choose to use the l sound more. Basically, it's a stylistic difference.

I know I just answered on a six-year old post.

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