1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. The character ha (は)


The character ha (は)

Just a big heads up. When the character は is in the position of being the topic/subject marking particle it is not pronounced "ha" but rather "wa". This is a big deal. The Duolingo voice seems to consistently pronounce it as "ha". This isn't just annoying being such a basic thing but would be completely misleading to beginners who will be practicing the wrong thing over and over. Not sure how this could have gotten out the door this way.

June 13, 2017



Yes, there should be tips and notes on the app—I can't think of a better way to explain things like this.

I also wonder why there is no slow-speed button for Japanese—all the other TTS-voice courses have it, and there's nowhere where it would be more useful than in this infamously quickly-spoken language.


Doesn't the slow speed button only appear for transcription exercises, of which there don't appear to be any for Japanese (or any writing in Japanese at all for that matter)?


I got typing exercises in the alpha test; they seem to be thin on the ground, however. I'm sure the button used to appear more than it does now.


And there's a huge audio problem when it comes to onyomi / kunyomi, and counters/numbers, which I haven't even studied, so I'm having a chaotic experience finding out what should be pronounced like what and when...

( I don't know if it's called onyomi/kunyomi for numbers, but you get it, the different pronounciations)


I have yet to start the course (waiting for the web version), so I can't comment on my own experience, but that sounds worrying. It's only for the counters/numbers, though, at least? I guess for other things usually there is either only one obvious/most common way to say it (as with vocabulary) or the reading to be chosen may be understood from context (although I wouldn't know how well a TTS system would be able to pick up on said context in that sense).


I'm still in the beginning of the tree, so I can't speak for the other onyomi / kunyomi, but I don't remember having this problem with other words (except for は and を as particles, etc... those were the ones I could recognize)

(remember that I haven't studied the different pronounciations yet so I wouldn't recognize most mistakes).


Might just be me, but the "nu" as pronounced by the Duolingo voice sounds like bu/du or something.


I've been paying attention to this and at least in the lessons in the first couple checkpoints it has seemed to be right.


I think it is pronounced correctly in the complete Japanese sentences. However, in the exercises where you translate an English sentence by arranging different Japanese words and syllables, it's only pronounced "ha", even when it functions as a topic marker and thus should be "wa".


Oh, I see, that's not so bad then. I suppose when the TTS pronounces the words and syllables separately, it does not look at the context, and so it doesn't recognize the は is a topic marker and just pronounces it as the character 'ha' that it technically is.


Exactly. There is a similar problem with 中 - in the matching exercises it is always pronounced "naka", even when you are meant to match it with ちゅう.

Just something to be aware of.


I actually think this is a good thing since it forces the learner to put attention to the multiple readings of kanji.

But yes, you have to be aware of it.


Oh wow, is that all this is? I thought everyone was complaining about the sentence audio. I've barely had the sound enabled on Duolingo, and the few sentences I heard seemed perfectly fine, so I was wondering about this.


Great post! I recently joined Duolingo to help maintain my language skill after leaving Japan and noticed that immediately!

Definitely something beginners should beware of!


A similar problem I noticed is that in sentences where the word "ha" is used to mean "tooth/teeth," the speaker pronounces it like the "wa" particle, when in that case it should be pronounced as "ha."

I also noticed the on'yomi/kun'yomi pronunciation problem. For this, I think it would be a good idea to include the furigana with the kanji and have them as two separate answer options.


thank you. i was super confused for a second!

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.