When you’re studying Japanese and thought you possibly can skip out on Japanese pronunciation, you’ve got received one other factor coming!
Even in the event you by no means plan to talk to a different individual in Japanese on your whole life, studying the right pronunciation of Japanese sounds is essential to your general Japanese fluency.
Why you ask?
Nicely, mastering Japanese pronunciation will make you:
- a greater Japanese listener
- and a greater author
So perfecting your Japanese pronunciation is a key a part of Japanese fluency.
Excellent news, although—Japanese pronunciation has guidelines that make it:
Compared to Japanese’s easy guidelines, English is simply nonsense! So in case you’re studying this in English proper now, you’ve already tackled a challenge a lot, a lot more durable than Japanese pronunciation.
You might be happy to know that once I talked about “constant and predictable” above, I meant that Japanese is product of “letters” (characters) that all the time sound the identical.
It doesn’t matter what.
Aside from “n,” which I am going to talk about later, all Japanese characters finish in a vowel. That signifies that in the event you study simply the vowels, you’ll have already discovered 95% of all sounds any Japanese phrases can ever make.
By the top of this text, you will know how one can pronounce the vowels. Plus I am going to share some secrets and techniques to make you sound extra like a local speaker.
Japanese Vowel Sounds
The vowels in Japanese are the identical as they’re in English: A, E, I, O, U. You might discover that in Japanese, these vowels are written in a unique order: A, I U, E, O.
Nevertheless, there are nonetheless the identical 5, and also you all the time say them like this:
- A: “ah”
- I: “ee”
- U: “oo”
- E: “ay”
- O: “oh”
Easy! When you’ve discovered these, you’ll be able to say virtually each sound Japanese can ever produce:
- Ka: “kah”
- Mi: “mee”
- Su: “soo”
- Te: “tay”
- Jo: “joh”
Straightforward, proper? However wait—you possibly can say virtually each sound in Japanese now? What are these mysterious others that don’t match into what we’ve already coated?
There are two Japanese sounds that require particular consideration.
2 Tough Japanese Sounds: Tsu And N
You’re probably acquainted with the phrase tsunami (the large tidal wave brought on by an earthquake). And should you’re something like most individuals, you in all probability pronounce it “soo-nah-mee.”
That’s fairly shut, however the Japanese character tsu (つ) has a T initially for a purpose!
Attempt sneaking a bit of T sound in proper earlier than you say the S. It doesn’t take any additional time—for those who’re saying “tuh-soo-nah-mee,” you’ve gone too far. Think about describing the sound of water hitting a scorching range. Tssssss. That’s the way you begin out the Japanese character tsu!
N is the opposite weirdo on this state of affairs. N is particular, as a result of it’s the one Japanese character that may be a single letter. The excellent news is that an N is an N. It seems like a daily previous N…more often than not.
You could sometimes hear the N sound change to M in entrance of sure different sounds (like M or P sounds). However keep in mind—since N is the one singular letter, even when it feels like M, it have to be N.
Take, for instance, the phrase senpai. It’s completely high-quality and even anticipated that you simply’d say this phrase as “sen-pai,” simply because it’s written. Nevertheless, when individuals speak very quick, as a result of their lips are in a short time shifting from the N to the P, it might come out as “sempai”.
That gained’t confuse somebody as sensible as you, although, as a result of you recognize that M by itself is an inconceivable letter in Japanese! So in case you’re making an attempt to write down down somebody’s story about their senpai, you’ll write it with an N.
Particular Case “Si” and “Tu”
It’s value noting that there is no si (“see”) sound in Japanese. It modifications to shi. Equally, there isn’t any tu/ti, and it is chu/chi as an alternative.
7 Steps To Pure And Native-Like Japanese Sounds
So that you’ve acquired the fundamentals down no drawback! For those who simply take what you’ve discovered up to now and trot off to Japan, by no means to return and skim the remainder of this text, you’ll be understood simply wonderful whenever you converse.
That’s to not say, nevertheless, that you simply’ve discovered all you possibly can about Japanese pronunciation! In the event you’re trying to actually step up your recreation and sound native, attempt a number of of those extra superior tips on for measurement:
#1 R To Modified L In Japanese
Native Japanese audio system do not use the R sound as we all know it. The character ru is just not pronounced “roo.”
The Japanese R sound originates within the entrance of the mouth, behind the highest entrance tooth. Attempt it—you in all probability simply made a sound that appeared fairly a bit such as you stated “lavatory” as an alternative.
You’re a lot nearer, however nonetheless not fairly there but.
Simply as an actual R doesn’t exist in Japanese, neither does an actual L. As an alternative of pushing your tongue towards the again of your entrance tooth (which makes that tough L sound), attempt simply barely flicking the tip of your tongue towards the gums behind your entrance tooth.
This could produce a sound that’s someplace between an R and an L. With follow, you may get so good at making this sound that your tongue doesn’t contact something in any respect anymore!
#2 Fu To Hu In Japanese
Identical to the R sound doesn’t exist in Japanese, neither does the F sound. Attempt saying the phrase “fox.” You in all probability put your tooth in your decrease lip, or at the very least put your two lips shut collectively.
In Japanese, nothing is touching if you make the F sound, which leads to it sounding very very similar to hu as an alternative.
Attempt it out by working towards the character fu—for those who simply stated a straight-up “who,” your lips could be a bit too open.
Identical to with R and L, you’re on the lookout for a center floor the place you possibly can virtually hear the F nevertheless it’s not as robust as it’s in “fox.”
#three Ha To Wa In Japanese
You’ve been making all types of strange shapes together with your mouth. So let’s take a break and change to a little bit of grammar.
The particle ha (は), which often denotes issues like the topic of a sentence, is pronounced wa in that context. There’s undoubtedly such a sound as ha, assume hanasu (to speak). However if you end up utilizing ha as a particle, pronounce it as wa.
#four Wo To O In Japanese
The identical factor occurs to the particle wo. The character wo (を) is simply ever used as a particle, nevertheless it’s by no means pronounced “woh.” It is all the time pronounced o (“oh”) as an alternative.
#5 Pausing On Double Consonants In Japanese
When two consonants fall collectively in Japanese, like within the phrases kitto (definitely) or karappo (empty), you’re taking a brief pause if you get to these consonants.
Within the phrase karappo, your first inclination may be to say kah-rah-poh. However attempt saying it extra like kah-rahp-poh. Think about holding your breath for only a second whenever you get to the double letters.
That is how Japanese audio system differentiate comparable phrases, like kito (plan/challenge) and kitto.
#6 Syllabic Extensions
So that you’ve discovered to pause at sure letters. How about training the other—actually drawing issues out?
When the letters ou, uu, or ii seem collectively, you say them for an additional very long time.
This helps to distinguish between phrases too. Let’s take a look at ryoukou (good, nice) and ryokou (journey). In case you actually spend a bit longer saying the “ou” half, you possibly can undoubtedly inform the distinction between these phrases:
Ryouhhh-kouhhh vs. ryo-kouhhh
That is additionally what helps individuals inform the distinction between comparable phrases like kowai (scary) and kawaii (cute). In case you simply say kah-wai, you is perhaps misunderstood. However for those who enunciate kah-wah-iiiiii, it’s a really totally different phrase.
#7 Chopping The U
One of many best methods to degree up your Japanese talking shortly is to study the place you’ll be able to reduce your U.
When individuals are talking shortly, the U on their verbs tends to get eliminated solely. You’re going to see this virtually all the time within the verb endings -masu and -desu.
So -masu turns into “mahss” and desu turns into “dess.”
You’ll be understood simply advantageous for those who introduce your self as a scholar (gakusei desu, or gah-koo-say deh-soo), however you’ll sound far more pure for those who chop that desu from deh-soo to dess.
Do this out everytime you converse in masu/desu and see the distinction it makes!
Prepared For Higher Japanese Talking And Listening
Now that you simply’ve mastered not simply the fundamentals but in addition some superior tips for Japanese pronunciation, you’re nicely in your method not solely to talking properly however to listening and writing nicely too.
As a result of Japanese lacks the complicated “mix” sounds of English (assume “sch” in “faculty” and “ng” in “bringing”), many Japanese phrases develop into very straightforward to say, even when they’re fairly lengthy.
Japanese is straightforward to interrupt into chunks, and since these chunks all the time sound the identical, pronunciation tends to return straightforward.
Don’t overlook to apply talking Japanese at each alternative! Even once you’re writing down flash playing cards or simply studying to your self, each probability you must train your mouth the way to type the phrases is worth it.
Such follow could have you spouting native-sounding Japanese very quickly!
Are you feeling extra assured about your Japanese pronunciation after studying this submit? What elements of studying Japanese do you discover tough? Let me know under within the feedback.
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