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A Note on Hiragana Pronunciations and Appearance

Hello everyone! I took Japanese for 2 semesters in college but unfortunately graduated and was unable to keep learning Japanese. I was very excited to see Duolingo bring out their Japanese program. I just wanted to write a little note because there is some information you all should know about hiragana that Duolingo SHOULD put in the notes section for hiragana, but seems to have not done (hopefully they will when they finish the beta).

Duolingo pronounces the character for ha as "wa." This is because when you say something like "I am Seri" "Watashi wa Seri desu" the wa is written using the character for ha instead of the character for wa. However, the character ha can also sound as it looks, with the h sound.

Duolingo also pronounces su as s. This is because many words that end in su are pronounced with the u cut off. For instance, many verbs are conjugated into the -masu form (taberu -> tabemasu), and so they sound like mas instead of masu. However, a word like sugoi does not sound like sgoi, it sounds like SUgoi. The u is pronounced. You will learn how to pronounce these characters more correctly as you go through the course.

Lastly, the character for ri looks like this when written on the computer: り, but it can also be written similar to i, except the left side is short and the right is long. Unfortunately I cannot create the character with my computer in the second style, but below is a link to an example. Either way is correct, but I feel that it is important to know in case you come across the other version of ri in real life. You will want to know what it looks like so you can still read it.


October 31, 2017



Sidenote: you can simply describe the alternative style of り as being very similar to the katakana リ

Otherwise, I completely agree that the notes in the Japanse course are vastly insufficient


Thank you so much. I, too, took Japanese for two semesters in college 23 years ago ago, and thought I was excited to find the Japanese Duolingo course. The "ri" did not look familiar to me, and I was wondering what I was missing as all the charts have it the way I was familiar with. Hopefully some of these things will be improved and better explained when it is out of beta.

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