View topic - Vowels and tother translation
Also, In japanese, how do you distinguish between words like 'no' (i-i-e) and 'house'(i-e).
Sorry for the Romaji, I need to learn how to type Japanese characters soon!
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Aoi would be pronounced: ah-oh-ee
Iie would be pronounced: ee-ay.
Kaeru would be: kah-eh-ru
and so on...though some just slur together like "ai" ...which sounds like I. o.O;
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You've hit on an important point, actually. In Japanese, "long" vowels (as in iie, no) really are long -- they are held approximately twice as long as short vowels (as in ie, house). Since the duration of the vowel is important to convey meaning, it's an important distinction to make, but not a really natural one for us. In general we tend to "lump together" several vowel sounds into single units -- for instance, we find it natural to think that "house" is a single syllable, but Japanese people do not easily perceive it that way!
I remember reading that linguists had conducted experiments and Japanese people hear the difference in duration more clearly than English speakers. I know I frequently ask this sort of question of my teacher when I am looking up a new word she has used in conversation. "Does it end with ko or kou?" for instance.
For practical purposes, if you treat Japanese vowels as "pure" vowels and give each one you see equal length, you will be close enough to be understood. And be careful to memorize what look like extra vowels: obaasan is NOT the same as obasan!
And oh, yeah... definitely learn the kana right away. Japanese is a syllabic language, and you need to start perceiving it as syllables rather than single phonemes!
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Those slurred together vowels are called dipthongs, and they're usually with two vowels together in Japanese (like kai is pronounced as one sylable, instead of ka-i).
I disagree with you here, Spaztick. It's definately two syllables. In english, we may dipthong the letters, but in japanese, the word 'kai' would have two morae, which is more or less equivalent to two syllables, as each morae is the same length.
The english way of elongating vowels naturally tends to muddy this, and I think the guy who posted after you already has good reasons why, so I won't repeat.
I just tend to err on the side of caution and I probably say japanese words 10x longer than they're normally spoken to make sure I have all the morae correct.
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