Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

handakuten [ ゚] and dakuten [ ゙], and the little や、ゆ、よ, and つ (Unofficial Tips & Notes)

Usagiboy7
  • 25
  • 18
  • 18
  • 11
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 11

[This version is open for comments.]

If you tend to get overwhelmed with technical stuff, I recommend reading this whole thing once. Then, go through and focus only on the highlighted parts. (All of this is good, but the yellow stuff is essential. I recommend writing it down to help it stay in your memory.)

The handakuten [] and dakuten [] are Japanese diacritical marks that alter the sound of the kana they are attached to. For instance, は (ha) becomes ぱ (pa) and て (te) becomes で (de).

Hirigana diacritical chart.
To see what these look and sound like without the handakuten and dakuten, click here

There are two things Japanese learners generally think of when someone mentions "little kana". The first is "furigana". These are the miniature hiragana sometimes placed over kanji to give you the pronunciation.
Furigana Usagi

The second kind are the や、ゆ、よ, and つ.

Starting with や、ゆ、よ, these have to do with mora (timing).

Take the words byouin (hospital) and biyouin (beauty parlor). These words are very similar to each other. However, Japanese has no stand alone B sound. And, also these words are pronounced slightly different.

What is the difference in pronunciation?

(With little ょ):
びょういん Byo/O/I/N (hospital)
(4 beats of sound)

(Without little よ):
びよういん BI/YO/O/I/N (beauty parlor)
(5 beats of sound)

*Note: Space between / and / take up one beat of sound.

Note on pronunciation: whenever you see お (O) followed by う (U), it means to draw out the O sound for an extra beat of time, instead of making the U sound.

The sokuon works a little bit differently. (sokuon = The miniaturized tsu っ or ッas represented in katakana). This appears when there is a doubled consonant, because in Japanese double consonants create a glottal stop. For instance, matte in English is not written as まてて in kana. It is written as まって.

To pronounce this, think of beats of sound:
まて is MA/TE (2 beats of sound).
まって is MA/ /TE (3 beats of sound.)

To form the Japanese glottal stop in まって:
After saying MA, put the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, but hold it for just a second before saying the final TE.

Other Unofficial Tips & Notes:
Japanese Skill: Position

As always, I am not a native Japanese speaker. If I have made a mistake, you are welcome let me know in the comments below. ^_^

1 year ago

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
Faisane
  • 22
  • 16
  • 6
  • 499

One minor point: I think you got the words for beauty parlor and hospital mixed up.

hospital: びょういん

beauty parlor: びよういん

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kdb119
kdb119
  • 16
  • 14
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 8
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 2
  • 1227

Mixing those up could prove rather awkward in real life! :-) It beautifully illustrates the importance of choosing the correct symbol, however.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 18
  • 11
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 11

Yes, just imagine if you told the cab you wanted to go to the nearest hospital, and they took you to the nearest beauty parlor! It is why I chose those two, maximum mnemonic potential :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kimiko_Sensei

This is a good point, beginners of the language tend to get these mixed up. They look and sound similar, but they are quite different.

I always tell people to look at it like this:

Hospital = Byo-in (byoo-een) A quick byo sound

Beauty Parlor = Bi-You-in (bee-yoh-een) A short Bi sound beside a long Yo sound.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 18
  • 11
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 11

Faisane, thank you so much for catching that!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Faisane
Faisane
  • 22
  • 16
  • 6
  • 499

No problem. Very useful article, btw!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mathso2
Mathso2
  • 25
  • 24
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

Thank you for posting this! Another tip is if you are writing them on genkou youshi (Japanese writing paper split up into boxes) the small kana goes in the upper right corner of the box :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LeonardoN.M
LeonardoN.M
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 22
  • 21
  • 19
  • 16
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2

My friend, what language do you use? (Level 5, black with a snake)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mathso2
Mathso2
  • 25
  • 24
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

That one is High Valyrian from Game of Thrones - released out of the Incubator just today :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LeonardoN.M
LeonardoN.M
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 22
  • 21
  • 19
  • 16
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2

Thank You my friend!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rhabarberbarbara
Rhabarberbarbara
  • 25
  • 25
  • 21
  • 20
  • 18
  • 16
  • 10
  • 1137

Very useful overview! I liked your furigana example^^

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LeonardoN.M
LeonardoN.M
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 22
  • 21
  • 19
  • 16
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2

We are from the same Japanese club, right?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rhabarberbarbara
Rhabarberbarbara
  • 25
  • 25
  • 21
  • 20
  • 18
  • 16
  • 10
  • 1137

Apparently

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 18
  • 11
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 11

;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kimiko_Sensei

Hey good job! I always enjoy reading your posts.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/544D
544D
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 19
  • 13
  • 12
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 2
  • 674

Thank you for the tips

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LeonardoN.M
LeonardoN.M
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 22
  • 21
  • 19
  • 16
  • 15
  • 13
  • 13
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 4
  • 2

Cool

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kdb119
kdb119
  • 16
  • 14
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 8
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 2
  • 1227

Excellent post! :-)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
  • 24
  • 18
  • 18
  • 17
  • 14
  • 13
  • 12
  • 12
  • 12
  • 11
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 4

どうもありがとう!

(Okay, I installed the keyboard purely to say thank you, and wow, the Japanese keyboard on iOS is totally confusing LOL so I ended up using voice recognition. This is by way of saying, if I messed up, I'm sorry. But thank you, this is very useful. I remembered about the dashes and the dots, but I had forgotten (and couldn't figure out from the course) what the little kana meant.)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/V2Blast
V2Blast
  • 25
  • 13
  • 7
  • 9

Sokoun =

You misspelled "Sokuon" in the parenthetical after "The sokuon works a little bit differently."

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 18
  • 18
  • 11
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 11

Many thanks for catching the typo, V2Blast!

1 year ago