I'm so confused!!
Ok so I'm on Hiragana 3 and i just got introduced to some new things like kippu and other characters. My problem is that I don't quite understand why a small っ would shorten a word or sound; the same goes for other sounds or characters. I tried checking the discussions on these whenever I do a lesson but I never understand why those characters can shorten sounds, what it does, if it has any meaning to it, does it change a word or sentence? Questions like that.
Thank you for whoever helps! :)
When working with Katakana & Hiragana, there are several different categories of characters:
-46 gojûon: these are the basic characters you're probably most familiar with, and they're what you'll find in any standard Hiragana or Katakana chart.
-20 dakuon: these are the characters you get when you add two short strokes at the upper right of a character, which change the consonant sound of said character. An example would be how ふ changes to ぶ. ふ is a gojûon and ぶ is a dakuon.
-5 handakuon: these are the characters you get when you add a small circle at the upper right of a character, which changes the consonant sound of said character. An example would be how ふ changes to ぷ. ふ is a gojûon and ぷ is a handakuon.
-36 yôon: these are combinations of characters where the second character is written in a smaller font, such as じゃ, じゅ, and じょ. These allow for sounds to be combined, so instead of saying "jiya", "jiyu", and "jiyo", you say "jya", "jyu", and "jyo".
-1 sokuon: this, I believe, is what your original question pertains to. A sokuon is notated as a small っ (or ッ in Katakana), and it creates a small pause between syllables.
-6 additional letters: for foreign words, small-font versions of the ア, イ, ウ, エ, and オ characters can be used with other characters to create sounds that aren't necessarily standard in Japanese, such as ファ to create something similar to a "fa" sound. There is also ヴ, which can be combined with the other additional letters to make various syllables starting with a "v" sound. Usually, additional letters are seen in Katakana as I have them typed here, since foreign words are often written in Katakana.
-1 long vowel sound symbol: a horizontal bar indicates a long vowel, like in コーヒー (coffee).
I know I answered more than just your original question, but I hope this helps! ᵔᴥᵔ
The small っ is used for words that need to be pronounced with a slight pause between a vowel and the next consonant. This is necessary so as to differentiate it from a similar looking word with different meaning and pronunciation. For example,
そっと (sotto) which means softly is pronounced with a slight pause between the vowel 'o' and the consonant 't'
This helps to distinguish it from:
そと (soto) which means outside.
Try feeding these two to Google translate and tap on the speaker icon to hear the difference in pronunciation.
A small っ denotes that the next consonant is repeated - it doesn't shorten it, rather it adds a very little pause between the repeated characters.
したい -> shitai
しったい -> shittai/shit_tai
かこ -> kako
かっこ -> kakko
basically just how you would pronounce the tt in eg.
better. So when you see a small tsu/っ, you now the next consonant is doubled.