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Questions tagged [pronunciation]

発音. How the Japanese language i​s pronounced. For questions about which readings to use for particular kanji, use the "readings" tag instead.

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What are the differences between じ and ぢ, and ず and づ?

The Japanese hiragana and katakana syllabaries can mostly be described as phonetic. But there are two exceptions, the two pairs of syllables modified to be voiced with the dakuten diacritic which ...
58
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1answer
27k views

Why are the particles “は” (ha⇒wa), “へ” (he⇒e), and “を” (wo⇒o) not spelled phonetically?

As far as I know only three words (or particles) have irregular, non-phonetic spelling in Japanese: "は" - The topic particle is pronounced "wa" but the kana is otherwise pronounced "ha" "へ" - The ...
48
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1answer
28k views

What are the rules regarding “mute vowels” (“u” after “s” and “i” after “sh”)?

When you first begin to learn Japanese you are taught that Japanese has no stress and each syllable should be pronounced equally. You also learn that certain vowels are not pronounced, or only ...
47
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4answers
57k views

How to choose between “よん” (yon) vs “し” (shi) for “四” (4) and “しち” (shichi) vs “なな” (nana) for “七” (7)?

Two numbers in Japanese have two pronunciation alternatives. 四 / 4 can be pronounced either "よん" (yon) or "し" (shi) 七 / 7 can be pronounced either "しち" (shichi) or "なな" (nana) I know that "し" (shi) ...
45
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7answers
12k views

How important is one's pitch when speaking Japanese?

I'm aware of some words in Japanese that have the same reading but different meaning depending on the pitch of each syllable. The canonical example is はし (hashi), which can mean either chopsticks (...
37
votes
6answers
15k views

Pronouncing が as 'nga'

I'm a beginner and am learning from CD (Pimsleur). There are two native speakers going through the dialogue. One, the man, pronounces が as I would expect - 'ga'. The other (female) pronounces it as '...
37
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1answer
2k views

How do parents obscure spoken messages in front of their children in Japanese?

Let's say I'm a very young child and I love dessert. After my family goes out today, my dad is going to buy us ice cream; he needs to tell my mom in front of me, without me finding out. In English, he ...
36
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2answers
7k views

Why is は pronounced as わ when used as a topic particle?

The particle は is pronounced similarly to わ (unlike the rest of the ハ行 kana) when used as a particle; why is this? What historical shifts went on to cause this irregularity?
34
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4answers
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What differences should I look out for between male vs female speech?

I was told a story where a male westerner learnt Japanese from his girlfriend and ended up speaking more like a female. The storyteller thought this was hilarious. What important differences should I ...
34
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4answers
29k views

What does the little っ (tsu) signify when at the end of a word?

The small っ (tsu) is usually used before a consonant to indicate gemination, less technically known as doubled consonants, which is how they are transliterated in romaji. I have seen it at the end of ...
33
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3answers
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When is 行く pronounced as いく, and when is it ゆく?

Are there any rules or guidelines as to when to pronounce 行く as いく or ゆく? I looked it up on jisho.org, and the two pronunciations have the exact same definition. I tend to hear ゆく more often in songs,...
28
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6answers
9k views

Why the “H” is pronounced as “Sh” in some cases?

My first question is about the rules of pronunciation of the letter "H". Some people pronounce the "H" as if it were "Sh". For example, "Shijutsu" instead of "Hijutsu", or "Shiyori" instead of "...
28
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4answers
23k views

What is 「々」 and how does it affect meaning and pronunciation?

I've seen this symbol in various places, such as 「日々」, 「色々」, and 「人々」. What is it, and how does it affect the meaning and pronunciation of the word?
25
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1answer
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Rules or criteria for 連濁: Voiced or unvoiced syllables in compound words

Examples first. 空 {そら}. Almost all compound nouns for which 空 is the second component pronounce it as ぞら zora: 青空 {あおぞら} 夜空 {よぞら} 星空 {ほしぞら}. There is at least one exception though: 美空 {みそら}. 蕎麦 {...
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5answers
1k views

Modern names of the obsolete kana ゑ and ゐ

In modern Japanese, the kana ゑ/ヱ (we) and ゐ/ヰ (wi) are largely obsolete. Words formerly containing them now are pronounced with /e/ and /i/, so they were replaced by え and い, respectively. But when ...
22
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1answer
4k views

Why is it 「ロワイアル」?

Always loved the "Battle royale" anime, but am curious about why in the Japanese title it's「ロワイアル」. Shouldn't it be something like「ローヤル」, if you wanted to match the French pronunciation? Why the「ワ」? ...
21
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3answers
4k views

How 「えい」 should be pronounced in the words like 英語, 先生, etc?

P.S.: I heard that 「生」 (せい) in the word 先生 can be pronounced either as [sei] or as [see]. If it is so, is there any semantic difference between these variants?
20
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2answers
6k views

How to pronounce the English alphabet? (A, B, C, …)

I just had to tell a long booking number over the phone, and realized that some characters like V/B can be hard to convey. So, I want to learn exactly how each letter is currently taught in Japanese ...
20
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2answers
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Why is the Japanese currency pronounced “yen” in English?

I'm wondering what the reason for the mispronunciation of 円 in English came to be "yen". I can understand how some words like 東京 became "Tokyo", but "en" to "yen" seems strange. On a side note, why is ...
20
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2answers
2k views

Pronunciation of “何” as “なん” or “なに”

"何" is pronounced as "なん" before counter-words like in "何時{なんじ}", "何歳{なんさい}" etc; or before particles like in "何で", "何とか" etc. However, it remains to be pronounced as "なに" in some words like "何事{なにごと}...
19
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2answers
6k views

What is the more common pronunciation for the r­ōmaji letter Z in Japanese?

I was on the phone with NTT the other day and things were going well (or as good as they could), until I had to spell some email address for the customer rep, and fell upon the letter 'Z'. ...
18
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3answers
3k views

How do attendance checklists in Japan deal with multiple possible name readings?

Even though there are several recurring, easily guessable family name readings ([田中]{たなか}、佐藤{さとう}、田村{たむら}) in Japanese, there are usually many possible readings to people's names Kanji, especially ...
18
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4answers
766 views

Do native speakers think of prolonged vowels as one long vowel, or two vowel sounds following each other?

In a native speaker's mental model, are long vowel sounds - for example the おう in 「教室」 the ああ in 「唐揚げ」, the えい in 「先生」 or just 「いい」 (I chose these examples quite deliberately, since they represent ...
18
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7answers
2k views

Except for pitch, what are the differences in pronunciation between Kansaiben and Tokyoben?

I have tried to ask people this type of question on many occasions and the answer is always the same, but people are notoriously bad at evaluating their own language, so I ask here: Apart for pitch, ...
18
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1answer
12k views

Why is konnichiwa spelt こんにちは?

Why is は used at the end of こんにちは? Is the last letter the particle は, or is there a different explanation? Which is correct: こんばんわ or こんばんは? mentions konnichiwa, but the question is interpreted more ...
18
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3answers
3k views

Actual phonetic realization of “devoiced” vowels

Descriptions of Japanese phonology (such as Wikipedia's) usually describe high vowels between voiceless consonants (or word-finally) as "devoiced". For example, the pronunciation of ⟨圧⟩ 'pressure' and ...
17
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4answers
2k views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
17
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4answers
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When Chinese personal names are written in Japanese in kanji is there always an obvious reading?

In their comment to an answer on the question "Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana rather than Romaji?", user sawa says: ... Chinese names should be written in kanji rather than ...
16
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3answers
1k views

Rules for emphasizing by lengthening sounds

Sometimes, sounds are lengthened for emphasis. For example, see "とっても versus とても". What are the rules governing this process? Are there restrictions on where lengthening can be inserted? とっても or ...
15
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3answers
10k views

How do I read 100°C in Japanese?

In English, I just read it "one hundred degrees Celsius". In Japanese, I don't know how to read it.
15
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2answers
543 views

Do any of the Japanese particles have different pronunciations in any dialects? Or extra or missing particles?

I was wondering whether the differences in Japanese vocabulary between the dialects extend even so far as particles. Are there dialects that pronounce any of the standard particles differently? ...
15
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4answers
4k views

How do you write the sound “wu”?

As in "Wu Tang" or something similar. Would it be something like ウゥ? I know that "wool" is written as ウール, but 1) the "woo" sound is pronounced slightly differently than "wu", and 2) ウール doesn't ...
15
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2answers
2k views

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう?

How do we decide if 中 is ちゅう or じゅう ? For example, in this sentence 10人中3人はビデオを持っている which pronunciation should we use? What about this: そのピアニストの演奏中、彼らは一心に耳を傾けた。
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3answers
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Why is 「昨夜」 pronounced as 「ゆうべ」 {yuube} and 「今日」 as 「きょう」 {kyou}?

「ゆう」 is neither the kun'yomi nor on'yomi of 「昨」 and 「べ」 is not a pronunciation of 「夜」 either. The same can be said about the pronunciation 「きょう」 for 「今日」. So how come the pronunciations of the two ...
14
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5answers
6k views

What is the difference between tori vs. dori?

In Aikido, different dojos seem to latch on to using either dori or tori when describing grabbing attacks. For instance one dojo might say: Katate Dori Another would say: Katate Tori Each dojo ...
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2answers
14k views

Is there a difference between すみません (sumimasen) and すいません (suimasen?)

I'm at the proverbial izakaya and my friend tells me one is more polite. I think theyre the same. Who's right? When can I use one or the other?
14
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2answers
660 views

How do native speakers “read” single-kanji signs when those kanji are not also standalone words?

In my time in Japan I've noticed a few kanji that can be used on their own commonly in various kinds of signs, yet I don't think they are also words in their own right: 押 引 危 開 閉 Since all kanji ...
13
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6answers
7k views

How do you pronounce the Japanese “r”?

How do you pronounce the Japanese "r"? Is it more like an "l" or something inbetween? Would there be any picture or video explaining it correctly, please link it!
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3answers
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Why is “Xy” pronounced as “Ki Shi” in Xylitol「キシリトール」?

Why is "Xy" pronounced as "[Ki Shi]{キ シ}" in [Xylitol]{キシリトール}? I believe "Xy" can pronounced as "Zai", which is probably a valid sound in Japanese. I would like to know its etymology too, if there ...
13
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1answer
501 views

How do Japanese pronounce microseconds (μ秒)?

From this sentence I read: これらの手法はクリティカルセクションが(例えば100μ秒以内などの)一定時間以内に終わるよう精密にプログラミングすることを要求する。 How am I supposed to pronounce μ秒 ? Should I pronounce it as "mu byou"? or "micro byou"? I also looked ...
13
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1answer
1k views

How do you pronounce みずうみ? (lake)

I was wondering, I learnt an う lengthens the sound before it. When I learnt the word みずうみ I thought it is a long u and saw it as a whole new word, but I noticed みずうみ exists of 2 words: みず (water) and ...
13
votes
1answer
310 views

Spelling over the phone

In Japan I often have to call somewhere and explain my name such that the person on the other end can write it down. My name is "Sepponen Bemmu", which I want them to write down as "セッポネン・ベンム". Is ...
13
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4answers
524 views

Pronunciation of 閾値 : いきち or しきいち?

Last week I saw the word 閾値 and when looking it up in Gjiten I see two pronunciations, both marked as "popular": 閾値 (いきち) (n) threshold (amount, dose, etc.); (P); 閾値 (しきいち) (n) threshold (amount, ...
13
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1answer
375 views

Does 連声【れんじょう】 still happen in the modern language?

I remember reading that there's a historical process called 連声【れんじょう】 which explains words like 天皇:   天皇    てん+おう = てんのう   云々    うん+うん = うんぬん   銀杏    ぎん+あん = ぎんなん Does this ever happen in modern ...
12
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7answers
63k views

Why do Japanese speakers have difficulty pronouncing “L”?

Why is it that native speakers of Japanese have a hard time pronouncing "l"? Whenever a western word contains "L" I see that they pronounce it "ru", "ra", "ro", "ri", or "re".
12
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2answers
594 views

Pronunciation and meaning of  [closed]

I just received an email ending like this: 是非是非また誘って How to read the  ? Zero results on Google. As for the meaning, is it equivalent to よ ?
12
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4answers
14k views

Is it just me, or is “ryokai” pronounced “yokai” regularly?

I realize anime is not like real life. In any case, I have noticed for a long time now that when saying "roger", they sound like they are saying "yokai" when in fact there should be a "r" sound in the ...
12
votes
2answers
715 views

Does the letter “C” attract any superstition?

I've heard that the number four attracts superstition because of its similarity with the word for death. For example, yon is used instead of shi in some circumstances, and sometimes the number 4, ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

The nasal allophones of /g/

In this this post's comments, Zhen Lin said that the rules surrounding the nasal allophones in compound words are 'complicated', but couldn't remember them. I'd like to know what these complex rules ...
11
votes
2answers
483 views

Words that have been borrowed twice, with different pronunciations?

We all learn early on that hamburger can be translated into Japanese in two different ways: ハンバーガー meat patty in a bun ハンバーグ just the meat patty (or salisbury steak to be exact) Likewise launder has ...