I know that ふ is pronounced with a bilabial fricative, which is different from an English "f" or "h". However, in 外来語 there are some words containing things like フィ、ファ、フェ and フォ. e.g. フィクション. Seeing there is a ふ in there, I am wondering whether I should do a bilabial fricative or the English "f". Can Japanese people pronounce English "f"s?

  • 1
    In my experience: it depends. In general, as you probably know, 外来語 have a tendency to be pronounced with a nod to how they sound in the original language (especially in regard to word-ending vowels), but this varies by speaker, word, and context. So I would say I'm more likely to hear something closer to f than ɸ in the syllables you mention, but there's a lot of variation, and as a native English speaker I'm also hearing what I expect to hear. So I'm curious to hear what a native Japanese speaker says!
    – mamster
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 14:37
  • Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/16266/5010
    – naruto
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


Both sounds are allophone and recognized as the same sound but English "f" sounds a foreign accent. Even if the speaker is familiar to English sound, s/he won't pronounce it with English "f" because 外来語 is Japanese.

  • 2
    In other words, the two sounds are a single phoneme and Japanese people will do a bilabial fricative instead of a labiodental fricative?
    – Sweeper
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 17:29
  • 1
    Yes, and that's how English spoken in Japanese accent sounds.
    – user4092
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 20:00

You must log in to answer this question.

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