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Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

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Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby BetterSense » Tue 02.10.2009 3:08 pm

Google as I might, I can't find good info on the Japanese pronunciations of the Latin alphabet. All searches seem to turn up information on Japanese romanization or how to pronounce Japanese.

I just want to know what they call the letters. I don't know, for example, how the Japanese pronounce "G". It could be じ, but then it could be ぎ for all I know. Any help would be appreciated.

Also, are there names for the kana characters, other than their sounds? Since English doesn't have strict sounds for its characters, we have relatively arbitrary names for all them, for example, "W". I suppose Japanese just call them like they see them, but I may be wrong in this too.
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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby furrykef » Tue 02.10.2009 3:23 pm

I happened to have a link for this (for when I'm ready to learn the same thing!), so here you go. :)

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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 02.10.2009 4:07 pm

As for the kana, their names are just their sounds. Usually ひらがな「か」 or カタカナ「ノ」 or the like.
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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby AJBryant » Tue 02.10.2009 6:57 pm

BetterSense wrote:I don't know, for example, how the Japanese pronounce "G". It could be じ, but then it could be ぎ for all I know.


How would that even be possible? It's G. Pronounced JEE (like in jeep). It's not pronouced GEE (like Gieger).

Since English doesn't have strict sounds for its characters, we have relatively arbitrary names for all them, for example, "W".


I'm boggled. Do you know anyone else who has a different thing than "AY" for A, "BEE" for B, "SEE" for C...?

The only letter that has *any* variance is Z, which in the US is "ZEE" and in Britland is "ZED."


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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby JaySee » Tue 02.10.2009 7:46 pm

If you know that the Japanese copied the alphabet letter names from English (and that's really not as obvious as you make it seem to be, I think), then yes, it's all pretty straight-forward.

However, had they taken their letter names from German for example, G would probably be something like ゲー, and if they had taken them from Dutch it would be something like ヘー (approximating the velar fricative 'ch' as in Scottish 'loch' that we use for it).

In fact, because in romanised Japanese the G is always pronounced like it is in 'goal', having ジー for the letter name I'd say is actually quite illogical (unless, again, you know that they took the letter names from English, of course).

--

Also, what he meant by 'arbitrary' wasn't that English letter names can be pronounced as you like it, but rather that each letter can have multiple different pronunciations (depending on the word you see it in), so that the letter names are generally arbitrary conventions rather than being strictly based on their sound values in actual usage... I think.
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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby furrykef » Tue 02.10.2009 8:05 pm

AJBryant wrote:How would that even be possible? It's G. Pronounced JEE (like in jeep). It's not pronouced GEE (like Gieger).


Well, "studio" is pronounced "STOO-dee-oh", but that didn't keep them from Japanizing it as スタジオ. ;)

BTW, I think you meant "Geiger" rather than "Gieger". (A little tip: in German, "ei" is always pronounced "aigh", and "ie" is always pronounced "ee". So people who tell you that Budweiser is "Budveezer" or "Frankenstein" is "Fronkenshteen" in German are mistaken.)

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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby JaySee » Tue 02.10.2009 8:14 pm

furrykef wrote:(A little tip: in German, "ei" is always pronounced "aigh",


You mean like in 'straight'? :P
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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby BetterSense » Tue 02.10.2009 8:56 pm

Also, what he meant by 'arbitrary' wasn't that English letter names can be pronounced as you like it, but rather that each letter can have multiple different pronunciations (depending on the word you see it in), so that the letter names are generally arbitrary conventions rather than being strictly based on their sound values in actual usage... I think.


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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby jimbreen » Tue 02.10.2009 9:00 pm

JaySee wrote:In fact, because in romanised Japanese the G is always pronounced like it is in 'goal', having ジー for the letter name I'd say is actually quite illogical (unless, again, you know that they took the letter names from English, of course).


A good example of Japanese confusion over "g" can be found in the famous スタジオジブリ. The "ジブリ" is from the Italian word "ghibli", from the Arabic "qibli". The "gh" in Italian means it's hard, as in the Arabic, so you pronounce it "gibli", not the "ジブリ" that Miyazaki et al. used.

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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby chikara » Tue 02.10.2009 9:17 pm

furrykef wrote:I happened to have a link for this (for when I'm ready to learn the same thing!), so here you go. :)

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Beat me to it Kef-san. I was going to link to the same thread :)
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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby furrykef » Tue 02.10.2009 9:21 pm

JaySee wrote:You mean like in 'straight'? :P


I guess "aigh" is a rather poor representation of the sound. I dunno when or why I started to use it, since apparently no English words actually use this sequence for this sound.

OK, German "ei" is the "i" in "light". :P
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Re: Japanese pronunciation of the Latin alphabet

Postby AJBryant » Wed 02.11.2009 12:27 pm

furrykef wrote:
AJBryant wrote:How would that even be possible? It's G. Pronounced JEE (like in jeep). It's not pronouced GEE (like Gieger).


Well, "studio" is pronounced "STOO-dee-oh", but that didn't keep them from Japanizing it as スタジオ. ;)

BTW, I think you meant "Geiger" rather than "Gieger". (A little tip: in German, "ei" is always pronounced "aigh", and "ie" is always pronounced "ee". So people who tell you that Budweiser is "Budveezer" or "Frankenstein" is "Fronkenshteen" in German are mistaken.)


No, I meant Giger, as in the artist who designed the Alien in the movie "Alien". Don't know how the E ended up in there... (sigh).
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