68

In modern Japanese these pairs are pronounced exactly the same: ず, づ are pronounced either [dzu] or [zu]. じ, ぢ are pronounced either [dʑi] or [ʑi]. (the first sounding like the English J and the second like the French J, but both are with the middle of the tongue raised to the hard palate, producing what seems like a softer pronunciation). So in short, ...


39

I have a book in my university library that has a 100-odd page article dedicated to these mute vowels, and it still doesn't seem to give a complete picture. So unfortunately, this feature of Japanese phonology is quite complex. Still, there's a rather simple rule of thumb that can point you to most of the places where muting may occur (and in most of them ...


36

The sound you hear in HI is not really a "sh" (as the English "sh"), but neither is the sound SHI an "sh". While it's very easy to learn to pronounce Japanese sufficiently, Japanese pronunciation does have its quirks, and you have to get used to it. The "sh" situation (or fricative situation, as we'd call it in linguistics lingo) is one of them. Let's first ...


33

This question should be broken into two different questions: When and how did small-tsu come to represent consonant gemination. When and how did consonant gemination (as represented by small-tsu) come to be in Japanese. (For those who don't know the term: gemination simply means doubling of sounds, usually consonants. It's easy to get the sense ...


28

Why is it pronounced "yen"? I was actually wondering this a month or so ago, but found the answer on the Wikipedia article for yen/en. The spelling and pronunciation "yen" is standard in English. This is because mainly English speakers who visited Japan at the end of the Edo period to the early Meiji period spelled words this way. ... In the 16th century,...


24

Short answer: The allowed pronunciations depends somewhat on the word origin. For Sino-Japanese words (漢語), such as 英語<えいご> or 先生<せんせい>, the underlying vowel sequence is always ええ, but can be pronounced as either えい or ええ (despite its native orthography being <えい>). Most Yamato (和語) words are the same as the Sino-Japanese words, but in some cases ...


18

In reference to Sawa's request for an example, キャンディ is a case of キャ being used to transcribe English ca. I asked my Japanese teacher exactly this question many years ago. The reply was that the vowel in English candy is higher (in phonetic terms) than the low front vowel in RP English cast. The fact that キャ is palatalised raises the vowel and makes it ...


17

I'm a native speaker. When you tell a native Japanese speaker to say these words veeeeery slowly, they would say: きょ、う、し、つ。 (or きょ、お、し、つ。) せ、ん、せ、い。 (or せ、ん、せ、え。) か、ら、あ、げ。 こ、ん、ぴゅ、う、た、あ。 (コンピューター) And if you ask "How many 'sounds' are there in those words?", they would count using their fingers, and say 4, 4, 4 and 6, respectively. So this means so-called "...


16

I think you're not really talking about puns here, but about something that's somewhat related, but still quite different: you're talking about slips-of-tongue (いいまちがい) that accidentally turn out to mean something else. Puns are quite different, since they are always intentional, and they can have multiple meanings either because they sound the same as ...


14

This is the result of a well known devoicing rule in Japanese. Devoicing means that there is no vibration of the vocal folds. For example, the difference between [s] and [z] is only that [z] is voiced. The IPA diacritic for devoiced phones is a circle at the bottom of the glyph e.g. [z̥]=[s]. Although there is still much dialectal, idiolectal (the way a ...


14

Here is what I know. If, by "complex rules", you refer to more complex ones than these below, I wish one of the experts here would post an answer. By the way, the nasal sound we are discussing here is called 「鼻濁音{びだくおん}」 in case someone did not know. "Nose-muddy-sound", literally. Since you know the word now, you can hear how it actually sounds on ...


13

As @sawa posted with the link in the comment, sometimes words have exceptional readings when in compound form. 白(しろ) is the colour white, but in certain compound words it has the reading しら. Exs: しらゆき → pure white snow しらさぎ → white heron しらが → white (grey) hair


12

This question has a useful answer by Boaz Yaniv which points out that you may simply be mishearing ひ as し, but it misses the fact that some speakers actually do pronounce these the same way! This merger is mentioned briefly in The Phonology of Japanese, Labrune 2012, p.69: For certain speakers, the opposition between /h/ and /s/ is neutralized before i: ...


12

It really all depends on how you define preservation, and whether you consider the Ryukyuan languages (such as Okinawan) separate languages or dialects of Japanese, since ゑ and ゐ are used in some Ryukyuan spelling systems (other systems use other conventions such as writing these sounds as うぇ and うぃ). There are one or two problems with considering that as a ...


11

Pronunciation-wise, there is no difference in the standard dialect. Some dialects may preserve the distinction between the two sounds, but most of the words that used to be spelled with づ and ぢ are now spelled with ず and じ in the standard language. (In other words, relying on the standard spelling won't tell you when to use "dzu" and "dji" in these dialects, ...


11

1)Yes, an international standardized character alphabet exists for transcribing the sounds of all human Languages. It's called the International Phonetic Alphabet and it is maintained by the International Phonetic Association (both are acronymized as IPA). The most recent version of the alphabet was created 1969 and their most recent and currently operative ...


11

Odd readings of 三: looking back in the history I've read here and there that researchers think that the Chinese-derived reading さん was originally borrowed as さむ. This is based partly on the reconstructed Middle Chinese reading of /sɑm/, and partly on the fact that Old Japanese (the stage of the language when most kanji were borrowed) didn't have any ん yet. ...


10

It is たいおうずみ. More generally, the suffix 済 or 済み is read as ずみ. This is an example of rendaku.


10

I hate to turn these questions into the sawa and Matt show, but here are a couple of interesting ones that are still "in progress": 雰囲気 = ふんいき → ふいんき Dictionaries still list the pronunciation as "ふんいき", although some will give "ふいんき" as an alternate version, but spoken Japanese is clearly moving towards ふいんき. According to 日本国語大辞典, Yamaguchi Nakami ...


9

Sequential voicing (called 連濁【れんだく】 in Japanese) isn't predictable, but there are rules that describe when it's "blocked"--in other words, when it's much less likely to occur. None of these rules are absolutes, though, and we can find some exceptions. Reduplication commonly results in sequential voicing: 黒々    (くろぐろ) 人々    (ひとびと) 華々しい  (はなばなしい) それぞれ  (...


9

[W]hen they say a long vowel, are they deliberately saying one long vowel sound or two of them directly following each other? If this is about phonology, as the tag indicates, the answer will be: two, or neither (at least in Standard Japanese). It's merely two same vowels adjacent by chance when in between two words, or between word stems and inflections. ...


9

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.


8

I think it comes from 撮影【さつえい】 where つ becomes ちゅ for some reason (slang?). A bit like おやちゅみなさい. Seems to me that さちゅえい refers to 撮影会 events. There are many types of 撮影会 but the main ones are for amateur photographers to meet, to take a picture with a character or model, to create publicity with an open photoshoot, or to recruit new models. They are ...


8

I've got an old PDF folder full of papers on Japanese, and I managed to pull up two which might be helpful. (I've been on the search for a full detailed phonetic study of Japanese. Add a comment if you know of some other technical resources!). The first, the open paper Processing missing vowels: Allophonic processing in Japanese (Ogasawara and Warner, 2009) (...


8

ん has different pronunciations(allophones) depending on surrounding context. [m] before /p/, /b/ and /m/ [n] before /d/, /t/, and /n/ [ŋ] (What some might know as "ng") before [k] and [ɡ]. [ɴ] at the end of prosodic units. This is close to [ŋ] but pronounced further down in the throat. Before vowels, /j/,/w/,/r/,/s/,/z/ and /h/, it is pronounced as a ...


8

The glide /gw/ may have been preserved in spelling for native vocabulary until at least the kana orthography reforms, but was completely lost in recent pronunciation. I'm thinking that when the word jaguar was borrowed into Japanese, /gw/ was transformed into /g/ to fit Japanese pronunciation at that time. This actually happened to quite a few words (mostly ...


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