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  5. "えんぴつ"


Translation:a pencil

June 6, 2017



I heard "eMpitsu", not "eNpitsu", is that correct?


Whenever ん is before 'm', 'b', or 'p', it sounds like 'm'. If it comes before a 'k' or 'g' it's a bit more nasal, like a 'ng'. In the rest of the cases it's a regular 'n' sound. Other words you may have heard are がんばって and かんぱい which both follow the rule and make ん sound like 'm'


This explains why senpai is so commonly misspelled as sempai.


But tempura is spelled tempura


The problem arises from the fact that the sound being made does not truly exist in English. A person could spell it in roma-ji as tenpura and be correct. We just became used to spelling it as tempura in English and so that is what looks natural when reading the word.

It's the same with Chinese and English - trying to match the sound from a syllable/pictorial (syllabary) writing set to a character of an alphabet is going to cause... certain issues.


Exactly. In the case of , the pronunciation is /ɴ/, which is a uvular nasal consonant (non-existing in English). It is distinct from the consonants /n/ (which is an alveolar nasal) and /m/ (which is a bilabial nasal), having its point of articulation quite far from theirs. Apparently, though, its pronunciation may be realized differently in some contexts, as described in an article on Wikipedia:
> Japanese phonology - Moraic nasal

For a little more info, see also the Wikipedia articles:  > Uvular nasal consonant ɴ
> International Phonetic Alphabet - IPA


I believe it is the other way around. "tempura" was actually imported from Portuguese / Latin during trade - from "tempora". There's no vowel-less "m" in Japanese, so "n" pronounced as "m" had to suffice.


@NocturneDubois: Japanese doesn't have stress like English does. It has a pitch accent system. According to Wiktionary, it is pronounced /tèńpúrá/, which means that the te- is pronounced in a low tone, and -n.pu.ra in a higher tone.


Yeah. 天麩羅 is "tenpura", not "tempura". I guess it doesn't really matter how it's spelled since people generally understand it either way. Also, do you know how to stress the vowels in tenpura? I cannot figure it out on my own.


Under the old system of Hepburn romanization, the ん was written as "m" when followed by b, m, and p, but in modified Hepburn this was changed to "n". That's why words like "tempura" which have been on menus for years sometimes maintain the old spelling.


Probably at the time it was introduced to the world, of course the outside world didnt know about the changing sound, when they heard tenpura, they wrote it in a way they knew that it would match how it sounded as it was said by the native people. and it just passed on from time to time.


Sempai is not a misspelling, but a more correct way of writing it in the Latin alphabet, and indeed at least one system of writing Japanese writes the m's where it is pronounced.


I actually hear her say enpitsu tho? Since it's a 'p' following, shouldn't it be pronounced empitsu?


Yes, it is pronounced empitsu. That's how she's pronouncing it, I think.


I hear the "n" and its spelled with an "n" in romaji in every Japanese lesson I've ever had in 7+ yrs so I'm not going to complicate life by introducibg placebos into the mix lol. ん is most commonly used to make "n" sounds anyway. The Japanese have no issue pronouncing "m" especially in the beginning of a word. Like in "ima" which means "now" we never confuse it for a Japanese person saying "ina" like the word "inai" which means "not in" or "not". Words that start with "en" are very clear. Like えんよ "enyo" which is another way to say "yeah."


How about "w"? I heard "Konbanwa" always sounds like "Kombangwa"


It’s because of the “n” in konban. ん is a nasal sound.


Well that's a relief, "enpitsu" is just way too complicated to pronounce.


But if i pronounce it as n with everything. Will it consider wrong?


Yes, sometimes "n" is pronounced as "m" when a consonant follows. It just sounds better, flows more natturally, like, it's physically easier / more natural to say eMpitsu than it is to say eNpitsu


That does happen in many languages. In Japanese the character ん is normally pronounced /ɴ/, which is a uvular nasal consonant. It is distinct from the consonants /n/ (which is an alveolar nasal) and /m/ (which is a bilabial nasal), having its point of articulation quite far from theirs. Apparently, though, its pronunciation may be realized differently in some contexts, as described in an article on Wikipedia:
Japanese phonology - Moraic nasal


How is it different from the "ng" sound?


Nasal assimilation. It happens pretty frequently. The "n" noise, which is the nasal, gets modified by the proceding "p" sound. The basic difference (generally) between the "m" sound and the "n" sound is mouth shape and tongue placement, and since the "p" sound has the same mouth shape as "m", the "n" sound will assimilate into an "m" sound in many languages.


Similar to the "tempura" situation.


Phonemically, it is n Allophonically, it is m


Yes, the n near hi hiragana makes the hi into pi and the n to m this also shows up in other languages like arabic i think.


yes that's right!


you are correct. your welcome


Wht you heard is correct..it is EMPITSU..


鉛:lead (=なまり)


Seriously, try typing なまり and ふで in particular order in Google Translate (EN>JP) and see for yourself.


gotta love on'yomi readings. 鉛: lead (=えん) 筆: brush (りつ) then they make it easier to actually say by using ぴつ instead of りつ.


You've got a typo, 筆 is ひつ (hitsu).


You should use a Japanese IME of course


With my pencil I'm going to draw an EMPTY ZOO.


That make it easier Thank you


鉛筆 = enpitsu


鉛筆 = えんぴつ would be more correct in Japanese context


So it's common to use both this and the katakana version of pen/pencil in regular conversation? I feel like I've heard them both used.


I think you use katakana for pen and hiragana for pencil, usually


Pencil is usually written in kanji as 鉛筆(えんぴつ). Pen is written in katakana as ペン.


Is "pencils" also correct?


In a sense, yes


I wrote "pen" and was incorrect, but it showed "pencils" as the correct answer.


Made the same mistake. Pen is the general term and the thing with the ball tip. A pencil is the graphite one ,i think.


Yup. We call the graphite part of the pencil the lead, hence the kanji term in the above threads: lead brush (or lead writing tool). Maybe it used to be made from actual lead? A pen uses ink.


A way to remember it: it just sounds like "en (a) pencil"


Why 'a pencil' is not accepted as translation for this word? Is there a difference if I use the englosh word with or wothout 'a' ??


Japanese does not, in fact, have articles like this. "a pencil" might refer to "one pencil", and counting things is hard in Japanese - maybe it's not accepted due to this.


So according to my research, this literally means lead(鉛)+ brush(筆). So a brush made (partially) of lead. Thought it might help with memorization.


Oh and btw

鉛:えん/なまり 筆:(ひ/ぴ)つ/ふで

The second ones are the native Japanese words i.e. how they are read when alone


Why does they used 'e' sound instead of 'pe' in pencil... Am I on right planet?


The fact that えんぴつ (enpitsu) and "pencil" sound similar is just a coincidence. えんぴつ isn't a transliteration of the word "pencil"; it's actually what is called a calque, or a word-for-word translation. When you write えんぴつ in kanji, it becomes 鉛筆. 鉛 means "lead" and 筆 means "writing brush", making 鉛筆 a word-for-word translation of the English "lead pencil".


So, I would write this as "enpitsu"?


Technically both "empitsu" and "enpitsu" should be right as romanizations of the word, depending on which rules you follow. However, I haven't really seen someone transliterate it as "empitsu". For learning purposes both have their merits and demerits. "Empitsu" is closer to the pronounciation, while "enpitsu" is more like how it's written in hiragana. Then again, in my opinion, you shouldn't rely on romaji too much when learning Japanese since it's counter-productive for learning to write/read (in) kana and kanji.


Although it's pronounced like it has an m, I think that it's supposed to be written with an n.


Accept my pencil emoji. :P


I put in "pencil" and it said I had a typo and it should be "pencils". If it doesn't have a counter, it could be either, correct?


I forgot if this was a cognate or not


More of a false cognate, I'd say.


I have no idea what you guys are talking about


Cognates are words that stem from the same root word, so they sound similar and may have the same meanings because they evolved from one word. False cognates are words that coincidentally sound similar, but actually mean different things. They are also called "false friends" since they might make you believe that they have the same meaning since they sound alike, yet can mean completely different things.

Hope thats helps!


Exactly! Like the word "pantsu" SEEMS to mean "pants", when it actually means panties! This, like many other false cognates, can cause super embarrassing situations!


Yikes, thanks for the heads up.

Can you imagine a guy traveling abroad in Japan trying to ask hotel staff or a sales clerk for some "pantsu," only to get some strange looks or a slap in the face? >.>


パンツ (pantsu) actually can mean pants/trousers in modern usage.


Funnily enough though those two words actually are related! The word パンツ (pantsu) derives from the English word pants, it just comes from the British meaning and not the American one.

The word for the American meaning of pants, ズボン (zubon), also comes from the French word jupon, meaning "underskirt".


My visit to the comments section was worth it


This is a funny example since i guess it's only a false friend in certain dialects of English? In British English 'pants' means underpants (not necessarily women's) so that would make it closer to the most common meaning in Japanese.


It means, undergarments (so also underwear)


Correction. A false cognate is a word that sounds similar to another word and also has a similar meaning but is not etymologically related. For example, Japanese arigatou and Portuguese obrigado* sound similar enough and also mean the same, but they're not related to each other. They're false cognates.


What Cristina is describing is usually called a false friend, hence the mix-up.


Did i miss why the "t" sound is added? If i were to spell phoenetically i would have written "e n pi u". Is the "t" added as a liason? If so whats the rule?


I think you might be confusing う (u) with つ (tsu). This is えんぴつ so it's read enpitsu/empitsu.


Idk about you guys, but to me, it sounds just like "pencil" sort of, so I just remember all words that sound like what they mean that way.


Not related but why does the audio sometimes doesn't work


Is it enpitu or enpitsu?


With Kunrei-shiki Romaji, which is used in Japan, つ is written as "tu". With Hepburn Romaji, which is used by English-speakers, つ is written as "tsu". The pronunciation is closer to "tsu".




Kanjis are so pretty


if I translate it as "pencil" instead of "a pencil" I get it wrong?


It's telling me there is a typo for not saying "a pencil" and just saying "pencil." Very crazy.


i also empitsu, i thought that was correct


Why do i hear tempo- ..


Isn't enpitsu a mechanical pencil?

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シャープペンシル (sharp pencil / syah-pu-pe-n-shi-ru) or シャーペン(syah-pe-n) is for a mechanical pencil. "sharp" is the maker that produced mechanical pencils at first time in Japan.


I typed pencil, it said i was wrong and said the answer was pencil.


You might have accidentally input a typo without realising?


鉛筆 kanji


The "ぴつ" part of it kinda sounds like pincil


it kinda sounds like inktsu as a ink filled pen that's how i remember


So what does ° over a symbol mean?


It turns the "h" sound to a "p" sound.

は - ha

ば - ba

ぱ - pa

So in this case ひ (hi) becomes ぴ (pi).

It's explained in the Tips and Notes for Hiragana 4.


I remeber it like this, 'enpitsu' = 'a pencil'


enpitsu -> en pitsu -> an pintsu -> a pintsul -> a pencul -> a pencil


i can remember words just cant remember what alphabhet is for what sound


I heard "A pencil " japnese way


I can not understand the pronunciation for I didn't memorize hiragana yet, can you help me?


Honestly, the best thing would just be to work on memorising hiragana. By going back and practising the previous levels and by practising writing them, you could memorise them within a week and it would make it much easier to learn new words


Regardless of the pronunciation, I imagine one walking with a pencil in each armpit...empits-armpits...to remember this word!


ぴぽぴぽぴぽぴ :)


Why is pen not seen a pencil


Pens have ink and pencils have lead or graphite. The word for pen is ペン and as seen above the word for pencil is えんぴつ (or 鉛筆 if you want to use the kanji)

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