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 ...


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 [...


6

The せい of 先生 is a good example of 長音{ちょうおん} (a long vowel). While it is written as せい , in reality it is pronounced as セー with a エー sound (not a エイ sound). Other examples include: Kanji hiragana prononciation ----- -------- ------------- 映画  えいが エーガ 英語  えいご  エーゴ 時計  とけい  トケー 丁寧  ていねい テーネー Another example of a 長音 that is ...


5

This is not a direct answer to your question but let me explain about difference between voicing/devoicing vowels and prolonging vowels. There are several ways to pronounce です or the likes. des (1 syllable non-moraic 3 morae, /de/ is longer than /s/, sounds chopped foreign) des: (1 syllable 2 morae, /de/ and /s:/ are even, sounds eastern-dialect-ish) desu ...


5

In Japanese phonotactics, high vowels (for Japanese, these are i and u) have a certain property: they become unvoiced when surrounded by unvoiced sounds. Since the "u" in desu is surrounded on the left by "s" (voiceless) and on the right by nothing (nothing is also voiceless), the u is now voiceless. However, this rule is not universally followed; for ...


1

For the older vocabulary of Japanese, we have native "Yamato" terms and borrowed Sino-Japanese terms. For these, gemination as spelled with the small-tsu っ historically only happened with voiceless obstruents. The analogue for geminate voiced obstruents in Japanese was prenasalization, which we do see -- although it is realized as //ɴ// + [following ...


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