Japanese Lesson 1: pronunciation
I thought, hey why not. I've already given all my resources, but sometimes it's still hard to get started. I could point everyone toward my Japanese blog, but all of you here at Duolingo are pretty comfortable with the order that things are taught here and I don't want to mess with that set up if it's working. Blah blah blah.
So the first thing I want to teach is pronunciation and a few basics of the language before I start with the "Basics 1" so to speak.
Okay so first off, unlike in English, Japanese consonants and vowels for the most part don't change sound. They stay pretty consistent. You don't have to deal with pesky silent letters and stuff like that.
Which is partially a lie. Sometimes "u" ends up being silent. Like in "Desu" which is pronounced "Dess" but it's not a very common thing, don't worry. Then there's "ha" and "wo" as particles... but I'll explain that when we get there.
A - ah - as in "father"
I - ee - as in "see"
U - oo - as in "Luke"
E - eh - as in "deck"
O - oh - as in "boat"
K - like the hard C in "Car" "Cat" or "Can"
G - as in "Gift"
S - as in "Sit"
SH - as in "SHe"
Z - as in "Zoo"
J - as in "Jar"
T - as in "Tell"
CH - as in "CHair"
TS - ... this is weird and I don't remember where I got it... but like the "TS" in "FooTStore"
D - as in "Dog"
N - as in "No"
H - as in "Hat"
F - this one sounds more like an almost close mouthed sigh. More like "Fhoo" not a hard "F" sound.
B - as in "Bat"
P - as in "Pink"
M - as in "Man"
Y - as in "Yes"
R - sounds sort of like "D", "L", and "R" had a baby. Put your tongue right behind your front teeth and close to the roof of your mouth, but don't touch either. Now say "Roo" (or "Rah" or what ever combo you want). Your tongue should (or might) just barely touch the roof of your mouth when you say it. Hear that odd D/L/R mixed sound? That's it!
W - as in "Water"
N - as in "No" (adding this a 2nd time for the lone "N" 「ん」)
Sometimes you'll find a consonant next to "ya" "yu" or "yo" same pronunciation rules apply.
So "Kya" would be the hard C sound as in "Cat" next to the sound "Yah" "K-yah" :)
Sometimes you may find two vowels together they lengthen the sound a little bit:
OU - like the O in "show" but held just a fraction longer.
EI - like the A in "lay"
II - hold the "ee" sound (as in "see") a little longer
AA - hold the "a" sound (as in "father") a little longer
AI - pronounced "eye"
The rest should go on acting as normal:
Example: iie = "ee" + "eh"
I think this lesson has gone on long enough... so that's it for now. If you know a pronunciation I forgot or maybe a mistake I made, let me know! Also feel free to ask any questions Either myself, or someone else familiar with the language will be happy to help you!
Anyone who has something to add, feel free. I want this to be a learning community, not just a teacher and students. Don't be afraid to help others or to even give me new information! I'm still learning too! :) You might teach me something new as well!
Thank you! And good luck!
I would probably add that there are some sound changes. I'm pretty sure I sometimes hear g pronounced closer to ng, and before some consonants n becomes m (thinking here of words like がんばって where although the romaji is ganbatte I'm pretty sure I've only ever heard it pronounced gambatte).
I don't know if it's the same sound in Japanese so correct me if I'm wrong, but my mandarin teacher explained the pinyin "ts" as half a t, like if you thought you were going to say toy but you were actually trying to say slinky so before you were finished with the t sound in toy you switch to an s sound.