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 "...


15

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 ...


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 ...


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: ...


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

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 ...


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'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 ...


8

I'm not very familiar with the diffusion process of jujitsu, but the practice to read 術 somewhat like じつ exists(ed) in the traditional Tokyo dialect. Japanese WP says: 「じゅ」が「じ」、「しゅ」が「し」に転訛する。(例)準備→じんび、美術→びじつ、新宿→しんじく、趣向←→嗜好 This is a well-known phenomenon: //u// in Eastern dialects is generally unrounded, so a weakened //ju// could be ...


8

/h/ is from original *p The Japanese fricative /h/ is reconstructed as coming from earlier *p (a voiceless labial stop; "labial" is a phonetic term for consonants pronounced with the lips). You can read more about this in books or articles about the phonology and phonetics of Old Japanese; Wikipedia mentions it in the "Old Japanese" article. The ...


7

The question is ambiguous. Are you looking for a word with two pronunciations, or a word with two pronunciations with slightly different nuances? – Tsuyoshi Ito 5 hours ago @TsuyoshiIto: The former. – Andrew Grimm 5 hours ago Since it appears from these comments that you are just looking for words with 2 (or more) pronunciations, then, yes, there are a ...


7

Yes, accents change when words are combined/conjugated/etc. I'm not sure if there are any truly sentence-level phenomena, but there is definitely more going on than just "words have the same accent all the time". The NHK dictionary does include a fair bit of information about these rules. To take your examples -- here are some answers I got from consulting ...


7

There is no semantic difference. The pronunciation varies with local dialects, and with the level of politeness. As for politeness, [sei] is a pronunciation sometimes used by people to emphasise formality (e.g. in conjunction with 敬語), but this is nowhere near a necessity. I would say that [see] is the common pronunciation. Try sticking in an almost silent [...


7

As you have already picked up on, the intonation (change in pitch) of words is vastly different. A common example is the pronunciation of the word 日本. Osaka: Starts high, and pitch lowers にほん【HLL】 Standard: Starts low, and pitch raises and then lowers にほん【LHL】 However this is not the only difference between Kansai-ben and Standard Japanese, ...


7

This is what you're looking for: International Phonetic Alphabet


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