45 votes
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How can I tell if a Japanese person's given name is male or female?

There are a number of common suffixes you can use to try to guess. Here is an incomplete list of common suffixes which are a pretty safe bet: Female ko 子 mi 美 ka 花・華 e 江・恵 na 奈・菜 no 乃 ri 里 Male rō ...
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44 votes
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Why is Katakana not pronounced Katagana?

This phenomenon is called 連濁 (rendaku). The basic rules for rendaku can be found in the following question, so please take a look at it first: Rules or criteria for 連濁: Voiced or unvoiced syllables ...
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24 votes
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How to pronounce the English alphabet? (A, B, C, ...)

I share your experience. Sticking straight to the katakana pronunciation below, I have never had the problem of someone not understanding me any more. I believe this is the pronunciation currently ...
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23 votes
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How do I read 100°C in Japanese?

It is in a slightly different order in Japanese. First comes Celsius, then the amount, and degrees at the end. This would be one hundred degrees Celsius written out: 摂氏{せっし}100度{ど} Fahrenheit for ...
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  • 1,378
23 votes

Why is 日本 read as "nihon" but not "nitsuhon"?

There are three readings for 日本: にほん, にっぽん, and やまと. The last reading is non-standard as far as general use. The first two are still used often, but にほん is by far the de rigueur reading currently. ...
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  • 7,072
19 votes

Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound?

I think on reading ヴァ, ヴィ, etc., people usually try to pronounce it differently from バ, ビ, etc., but with varying success. In fact, I think most Japanese that try to distinguish ヴァ and バ pronounce ...
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19 votes

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

It's like this: Teacher: 「野田{のだ} 努{つとむ}さん。」 野田: 「はい。」 T: 「いわい 隆{たかし}さんですかね?しゅくさんですか?」(the surname reads 祝) 祝: 「はふりです。」 T: 「はふりって読むんですか。珍しい名前ですね。はふり たかしさん。」 祝: 「はい。」 This conversation has ...
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18 votes

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

I'm Japanese native speaker. In my opinion, little "っ" at the end of sentence is not pronounced at all. However, it often indicates "small" (not so serious) emotions of speaker, I'll show you some ...
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  • 191
18 votes

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

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 ...
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18 votes
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Which language レシート is adapted from?

Derivation of レシート Numerous dictionaries state that レシート is from English receipt. See, for instance, the Dajisen and Daijirin entries visible here at Kotobank (in Japanese), or here at Wiktionary (...
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17 votes

How to Pronounce 化学 "Chemistry"?

Other examples of intentionally altered readings to avoid confusion: 私立【しりつ】 (private) & 市立【しりつ】 (city-run) → 私立【わたくしりつ】 & 市立【いちりつ】 売春【ばいしゅん】 (selling sex) & 買春【ばいしゅん】 (buying sex) → 買春【...
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17 votes
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町{ちょう}、町{まち}、街{がい}、街{まち} - how to pick the correct pronunciation?

The entry for 街【がい】 you linked to is: (尾) まちなみ. ▼繁華~ If you take a look at the explanation for the dictionary, we find what (尾) means:  (尾) 接尾語 Ie, it is used at the end of words, and not in ...
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  • 4,421
17 votes

Japanese 'え' sound - [ɛ] or [e]?

Japanese, a language which has 3-level vowel height system, does not have the distinction of //e// and //ɛ//. Or speaking more correctly, Japanese え and お are (true) mid vowels, that their sweet spots ...
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16 votes

Why Can't A Name Be Written Literally In Japanese?

Basically, there are just some sounds that exist in other languages which cannot easily be phonemically represented in Japanese. Disclaimer - this is a simplified answer, but ... As with any ...
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14 votes

Can a Japanese word combine both on'yomi and kun'yomi characters?

The answer is yes. There are "重箱読み (ju-bako-yomi)" and "湯桶読み (yu-tou-yomi)" in Japanese vocabulary (in 2 kanji words only). 重箱 is read as Ju-bako. "Ju" is on'yomi and &...
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14 votes
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Is it possible to algorithmically convert Japanese text to Romaji?

Basically this is very difficult. Real Japanese sentences on the net are mixture of kanji, hiragana, katakana and English alphabet. See Japanese writing system on Wikipedia. Among these, hiragana ...
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14 votes
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What constitutes a syllable?

The general method of counting in Japanese poetry is by a rhythmic unit known as the mora (morae or moras in plural). A mora is (essentially) the length of a single (full-sized) kana; so is a bit ...
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14 votes
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Pronunciation of りゆう:Riyū or Ryū

They are spelled differently. Riyū is always りゆう and Ryū is always りゅう. The latter contains a yō-on. Notice the small ゆ, which is different from the normal ゆ. (If you don't know about small ゆ, please ...
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13 votes

How do I read 100°C in Japanese?

The reading depends on the situation. In a scientific or technical environment Chris's answer is 100% correct. However, in conversational non-technical situations it is read differently. When ...
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13 votes
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Confusion with pronunciation in some words: 'm' and 'n' sounds when there is 'g'

Probably you were hearing "velar nasal g" [ŋ], which is an allophone of [g] mainly heard in eastern parts of Japan. In Japanese, [ŋ] and [g] in がぎぐげご are variants (allophones) of the same sound (...
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13 votes
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日曜日,the different meanings and pronunciations of 日

As is the case with other languages, Japanese people parse and read sentences based on words rather than characters. English speakers can pronounce the "rough" part of rough, through and thorough ...
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13 votes

Why is 日本 read as "nihon" but not "nitsuhon"?

(First, 日本 is pronounced like nippon or nihon, but not nitsuhon.) Unfortunately, there are tons of irregularities and exceptions regarding the readings of words, and you have to master them ...
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13 votes
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Pronunciation of 800 / 八百

It should be always はっぴゃく [happyaku]. If they say はっびゃく [habbyaku], it’s a typo.
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12 votes
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when is ん pronounced as "m"?

ん assimilates to the consonantal sounds that follow. If it is followed by 't' or 'd', then it is pronounced like an 'n'. If it is followed by 'p' or 'b', it is pronounced like 'm'. If followed by '...
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  • 7,576
12 votes

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

Well I don't know about school per se, but every form I've seen so far (Foreign registration, tax, social security, subscription to various utilities...) asks you to not only write your name, but ...
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