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Posts: 6
Joined: Sat 10.30.2010 10:48 am
Native language: Mandarin


Post by Greenmagic » Sat 10.30.2010 11:03 am

Hello everyone

Prior to the commencing of my Japanese lessons, I have figured that it will be beneficial should I learn how to read Japanese characters first. I have learnt those characters individually. The problem arises due to my understanding that one does not read those characters as they are in a japanese sentence for the reading is governed by rules. I have seen small ' tsu ' characters and know that the ' e ' character defines the dragging of pronunciation of the preceding character.

Unfortunately, this is so much as to my knowledge. I can't find relevant sources of information and the Japanese books I have teaches with romaji characters.

Seek guidance fast.

Practice makes permanent, not perfect.

Posts: 41
Joined: Sun 01.24.2010 4:23 pm
Native language: German

Re: Pronunciation!

Post by blutorange » Sat 10.30.2010 6:51 pm

For the most part, Japanese is pronounced as it is written. A few irregularities from Classical Japanese survive, but nothing to worry about. For the pronunciation of the individual phonemes, see, this site has voice samples. As for the kana orthography, see and There is an (almost) 1:1 mapping between romaji and kana, as romaji is simply a transcription. As far as pronunciation is concerned, you can use romaji textbooks as well.

Lastly, a summary of kana spelling:
- The basic kana are always pronunced as given at the site I linked above.
- Two small strokes ゛ (dakuten) added to non-voiced sounds make them voiced. [Ex: き[ki] > ぎ[gi], た[ta] > だ[da]]
- A small circle゜ (handakuten) added to the "h-sounds" make them semi-voiced. [Ex: は[ha] > ぱ[pa], ふ[fu] > ぷ[pu]]

- The "word" は (indicating topic) is always written as は and pronounced わ [wa]
- The "word" を (indicating object of a sentence) is always written を and pronounced お [o]
- The "word" へ (indicating direction) is always written へ and pronounced え [e]
- っ The small tsu indicates a glottal stop. Often called a "double consonant". It is the "-" sound in the word "uh-oh". Basically, you hold your breath for a short amount of time.
- long vowels a,i,u are written as exected: ああ[aa] いい[ii] うう[uu]
- long vowel ee is usually written as えい[ei], in certain words as ええ [ee]
- long vowel oo is usually written as おう[ou], in certain words as おお [oo]
- The glide sounds with a, i,u are written with a small ya,yi,yu respectively [Ex: きゃ[kya] しょ[sho]]

I must say again that all of this is actually very logical and regular. Once you learn more about how to actually speak Japanese, the above will start to make much more sense.

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