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

Here is how to not overwhelm yourself: After you read this whole thing once, go through and focus only on the yellow highlighted parts. All of this is good, but the yellow stuff is essential. Write it down on paper.

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.

I hope this helps and isn't too confusing!

The sokuon works a little bit differently. (Sokoun = 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 isn't 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

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[Japanese for English speakers is available in limited release beta through the Android and ios apps. Double posting under special circumstance: Not many people are aware that course or its forum exist yet. Once JA for EN is released on Desktop, this locked version will be removed.] ^_^

July 13, 2017

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