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Long vowels

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Long vowels

Postby Xmax » Fri 04.22.2005 11:25 am

Ok, just learned how to write long vowels in Hiragana.

About the "rule" (I know it has some exception) to write a long /e/ adding a い to the previous syllable, and a long /o/ adding a う, do I have to deduce that there are no Japanese (native) words that contain /ei/ or /ou/ sounds?

Thanks in advance.
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Elumi » Fri 04.22.2005 11:34 am

You know, I was just wondering about the same thing about the rules. Sorry... wasn't realy replying to your post with any help. Ehehe... gomen.
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RE: Long vowels

Postby clay » Fri 04.22.2005 2:46 pm

Xmax wrote:
Ok, just learned how to write long vowels in Hiragana.

About the "rule" (I know it has some exception) to write a long /e/ adding a い to the previous syllable, and a long /o/ adding a う, do I have to deduce that there are no Japanese (native) words that contain /ei/ or /ou/ sounds?

Thanks in advance.


That is correct. for example どうですか? (how about it?) is pronounced like the English word 'Doe.'

And へい (means fence) would be like 'Hey'

The difference between へ and へい may not be important at first, but it will become more important as you go on. Another similar issue is the small っ which causes a small break. おと (sound) and おっと (husband) are totally different words. So you can't listen to good music, point to yourself and tell your wife, 'ii oto desu ne.' :) I know, I've tried...

I am not sure what you mean about the native Japanese words, though.
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Xmax » Fri 04.22.2005 4:08 pm

clay wrote:
おと (sound) and おっと (husband) are totally different words. So you can't listen to good music, point to yourself and tell your wife, 'ii oto desu ne.' :) I know, I've tried...


LOL!!! and... did she answer like the following?
「はい、いい おと です、でも わるい おっと です。」 :)

...this way, you have no escape: you're forced to be able to tell the two words ;)

I am not sure what you mean about the native Japanese words, though.


As simple as that:
Words originated in Japan are written in Hiragana, while words "imported" from other languages are written in Katakana. Generally, in other languages, the sound combinations /ei/ and /ou/ are allowed.
As a matter of fact, with Katakana, a different way to double vowels have been introduced: you have to use 一 after the syllable.
This leads me to think that in Katakana you would read テ一 as /tee/ (long /e/) and テイ as /tei/. Correct?

Just to complete the thought:
Since "native" (i.e. originated in Japan) Japanese words instead have no /ei/ and /ou/ sounds, you can use the abovementioned "rule" for Hiragana without any ambiguity or doubt on how to read: you always have to double the vowel.

Sorry for my English, probably I chose a wrong word to express the concept.
Hope it's now a bit clearer what I meant.
If not, please shout.
Last edited by Xmax on Fri 04.22.2005 4:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Mukade » Fri 04.22.2005 9:21 pm

I think I see what you're saying.

If you ever see a Japanese word with e and i next to each other (or o and u), it will always be pronounced as a long vowel (even in katakana).

That is, you will never see an instance of えい that is pronounced ay-ee or an おう that is pronounced oh-(y)ou.

We call this sort of thing a diphthong in English - and no, that has nothing to do with the latest swimsuit fashion. ;) A diphthong is an occasion where one vowel sound "slides" into another. A great example is the English word toy.

There are diphthongs in Japanese, there just aren't any ei or ou diphthong combinations.

So your initial assumption that there are no native Japanese words with an ei combination that change pronunciation is correct. I would add to that, however, that there are no foreign words that contain it, either. If a word like freight were to be imported into Japanese, the ei diphthong would be flattened into a long e.

Does that make sense?
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Xmax » Wed 04.27.2005 8:39 am

Yes, you understood my point - and thanks for the answer!

About use of long vowels/dypthongs in Katakana, I'm trying to make a sense of it, and I still have some concern:

Mukade wrote:
If you ever see a Japanese word with e and i next to each other (or o and u), it will always be pronounced as a long vowel (even in katakana).
[...]
I would add to that, however, that there are no foreign words that contain it, either. If a word like freight were to be imported into Japanese, the ei diphthong would be flattened into a long e.
Does that make sense?


Just for confirmation, consider the following English words with their Katakana transliterations (both transliterations have 145.000+ hits in Google, so I'm quite sure they're in use - at least in Japanese web pages):

skate - スケイト (sukeito)
painter - ペインター (peintaa)

Are both boldface "diphthongs-look-alike" to be flattened to long /e/ (or a long "ay" if you prefer so ;)) to obtain the Japanese pronounce?
Last edited by Xmax on Wed 04.27.2005 8:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Mukade » Wed 04.27.2005 8:31 pm

Xmax wrote:
skate - スケイト (sukeito)
painter - ペインター (peintaa)

Are both boldface "diphthongs-look-alike" to be flattened to long /e/ (or a long "ay" if you prefer so ;)) to obtain the Japanese pronounce?


Yes.
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Xmax » Thu 04.28.2005 5:09 am

どうも ありがとう ございます !!!

(read with all-long-and-flattened /o/ :D)
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RE: Long vowels

Postby battousai » Thu 04.28.2005 7:49 am

After seeing えい next to eachother so many times, something popped into my head. I've personally heard the word 永遠 (えいえん) pronounced many times as Ay-Ee-en with the diphthong intact and also EIen as just the long vowel. Though it might just be different dialects..
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RE: Long vowels

Postby Mukade » Fri 04.29.2005 9:15 pm

I think what you're hearing is the shift from one character's pronunciation (えい) to the second character's (えん). When the Japanese are pronouncing jukugo, they tend to have a very subtle differentiation between the utterance of the different characters' readings.

There's also that diphthong slide going from the え to the ん.

The diphthong that you're hearing, however, isn't occuring between the え and the い.
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