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Pronounciation & Grammer

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Pronounciation & Grammer

Postby Christian_ » Fri 08.19.2005 3:08 pm

In words that have prolonged vowels like arigato I sometimes see it written like this ありがと or ありがとう I learned early on that う can be used to prolong a sound like ー when writing in カタカナ。 But what are the rules for that and when i see new words like dajobu ( i dont know how its spelt its the word for are you ok) i dont know whether or not to pronounce the う so its really slowing me down. Can some one clarify me about this?

My second question is when i hear some words that have さ and い instead of hearing it pronounced some what like (SAW) (without the W) and (EE) i hear the sound combined to make (PSY) is that ok? and if it is are there any other word sound combonations like in english? If someone could clarify theese two questions for me it would be greatly appreciated. ありがと or ありがとうlol thanks!

Oh yeah one more thing how do I pronounce sounds like きゅ、ぎょじょ、etc (the combonation sounds? thanks
Last edited by Christian_ on Fri 08.19.2005 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Pronounciation & Grammer

Postby Kates » Fri 08.19.2005 3:27 pm

The long U sound can be difficult for beginners to hear. It SHOULD be pronounced. However, as native speakers tend to do, the Japanese sometimes 'cut' the sound--perhaps like native English speakers say eatin' instead of eating. I don't know what you mean by 'rules'... because... well, if the word is written with a U then write it. ^^; For 'daijyoubu' (だいじょうぶ), there is only one U. But I guess it could be pronounced DAIJYOBU. Or even, DAIJYOB. (Sometimes the U on the end is not said, or is very soft... take DESU for example.)

SAI, in Japanese, sounds like 'sigh' (or 'psy' like you said). There is a slight "EE" to it at the end, but it's quite soft, I guess. Try saying YASAI (やさい - vegetables) and also SAIGO (さいご - last/end), using 'sigh' where SAI appears. It should be close to the Japanese pronunciation. ^_^

I don't know what you mean by "other word sound combinations like in english"... Do you mean like 'ph' sounding like 'f' and 'ci' making a S sound instead of a hard C? Japanese does NOT have weird rules like that. Even though you seem to think it sounds 'wrong'... the SA and I combination is being pronounced just as it should--ugh, this is hard to explain. >_< A in Japanese always sounds the same, that goes for E I O U as well. No matter what letter comes before or after, they are always pronounced A E I O U. (English is, of course, very different.)
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RE: Pronounciation & Grammer

Postby Christian_ » Fri 08.19.2005 3:47 pm

i just posted another reply but i guess it didnt work and it logged me out oddly enough. thanks so much.
Goals:
1) Have decent proficiency in Japanese, enough to get around/talk/read/write.
2) Visit Japan for a week or so one summer.
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RE: Pronounciation & Grammer

Postby mandolin » Fri 08.19.2005 6:32 pm

It's sort of important to note that while slurring the vowels together can sound natural, you should still realize that it is two morae. A morae is sort of like a syllable. It's technically different on the level of linguistics, but for the purposes of comprehension, I personally think it's OK to associate the two for now.

Like italian, japanese has no dipthongs. This includes things 'oi' as in 'oil', 'ow' in 'owl' etc.

Each morae-syllable has an equal length in japanese, this is sort of hard to understand (and kinda where the difference between a morae and a syllable becomes apparent). I'll do my best to illustrate with an example, let me know if it's too vague.... I can't always describe things in just the way I'd like to.

OK... in english, we'll use these words -- owl, bowl, cute, cut

They are all 1 syllable words, right? But you will say owl, bowl, and cute in about the same amount of time, while 'cut' is noticably shorter. Why? Because they are more than one morae, actually. If trying to tell someone how to pronounce that word, speaking slowly, you -could- break them into extra 'syllables' to help them form the sounds correctly. Like you could tell them to say "ow-wool" then make em say it really fast. But you couldn't really do that with 'cut'.

Japanese is not so different, and at first I didn't see any reason to make the distinction. But when you start seeing words that differ only by adding a doubled vowel sound (ie vs iie, for example) you begin to realize that the morae are more important than initially thought.

For many words, using the english-like dipthong sound will actually be more natural than trying to pronounce the morae. Such as 'hai' sounds perfectly fine like the english 'hi'. I still insist it's important to just KNOW the theory behind it.

As for 'u' sometimes being prounced as 'o'... don't liken it to the '-' in katakana. Kates' assertation that it's similar to "eatin'" is accurate. I've also used 'dunno' and 'sorta' and 'wanna' as similar examples.

Because it's more of a speed/sound issue, there aren't any rules that cover it in grammar, it's just the way you say things. How to know whether a word you hear is actually a 'u' instead of an 'o' is probably one of the reasons that people dislike romaji. The word でしょう can be romanized as deshou or deshoo, depending on the preference of whoever is writing it. :P

If you hear a word that you think might be 'ou' instead of 'oo' the best you can really do is try to look it up, first one way, then the other. For the most part, I think it eventually just becomes habit as your vocabulary increases.

Pronouncing the combination kana I think is pretty easy...

It's always done with one of the -i kana (ki, shi, hi, ni, etc) + a y- kana (ya, yu, yo).

You can start out practicing by saying them seperately, then speed them up into a single morae.

ki + ya = ki-ya = kya (say it out loud, speed it up, you will hear the relationship)
gi + yu = gi-yu = gyu
bi + yo = bi-yo = byo

Some of them are a little cumbersome, namely shi + y*, ji + y*, and chi + y* combos.

They can be romanized differently (and usually are) because there's no audible difference said by native japanese speakers.

shi + ya = shi-ya = shya = sha ('sha' is the most common romanization)
shi + yu = shi-yu = shyu = shu
shi + yo = = = sho (I'll let you fill in the middle. :) )
ji + ya = ja
ji + yu = ju
ji + yo = jo
chi + ya = cha

Your particular examples are kyu, and kyojo (two different combinations for that second one, maybe that's what tripped you up, I still read them slowly myself).
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RE: Pronounciation & Grammer

Postby Kates » Fri 08.19.2005 9:18 pm

That was amazing. O_O Mandolin, thanks for all of that! I hope enough readers who are confused about Japanese pronunciation take the time to read all you wrote because it's wonderful. ^_^

Now... I should go back to working on my pronunciations of KIYA vs KYA, etc. >_< There's a BIG difference between KON'NYAKU 【こんにゃく】 and KONYAKU 【こにゃく】 .... ):
Last edited by Kates on Fri 08.19.2005 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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