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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

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.

VOWEL SOUNDS

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"

CONSONANT SOUNDS

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」)

GREAT!

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!

Next Lesson

Japanese Lesson Table of Contents

Resources

March 4, 2015

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JBW.

This is really interesting. Have you ever thought about contacting Duolingo to start a Japanese course?

July 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyEvilSlosh

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).

March 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bvogel1

I just flashed on the old "Frasier" episodes where Niles mentions his former domestic employee, Ngi.

March 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyEvilSlosh

Maybe link to wikipedia's article on Japanese phonology for the really keen.

March 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sps1919

Btw gambatte means ' do well ' or some thing like that right ?

March 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HappyEvilSlosh

I believe it literally means "try"; but yes, it's often used to encourage someone or wish them good luck.

March 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sachi-Yoda1

It means try your best

February 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

That is very true. Thanks for pointing that out.

March 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Asperganoid

Thank you for this :)

March 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kunstkritik

Great, thanks :)

March 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pruechelan

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.

April 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

Kind of I guess. It is a soft switch from the t to the s. The explanation I learned from was the "ts" sound when you say "Footstore" Or something similarly kind of dumb like that.

April 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Akame_ga_Tatsumi

helpfull yess indeed

March 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luyematsu

Nice explanation of the R sound.

April 3, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

Thank you!

September 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Emewow

Thank you for this =)

March 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

^_^ Thank you!

March 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wyqtor
  • 1776

Just a minor point, the Japanese u sound (when not silent) seems to be pronounced like the German ü. Other than that, ありがとうございます for putting this series together!

January 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

Ah yes. :) that sounds about right! Nice!

September 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tiredoflooking

This is really cool, didn't expect to find this gem on here. Thanks again!!

September 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

^_^ no problem.

September 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZijianCao0

I really need Japanese courses, thanks for the effort!

December 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

Also be sure to check out my List of Free Japanese Learning Resources They're all the sites I used to learn in the first place. :) They all have different pieces of information and different methods so you can find what works for you! Good luck!

December 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZijianCao0

Thanks again for your kindness! Wish you all the best!

December 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Demon-Kiyomi

Thank you!

December 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Starlight2011

Thank you! :DDD this is really useful!

December 20, 2016
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