[tappɯɾi] 'a lot of'). Columns are called gyou (pron. Old Japanese is widely believed to have had eight vowels; in addition to the five vowels in modern use, /i, e, a, o, u/, the existence of three additional vowels /ï, ë, ö/ is assumed for Old Japanese. Of course the number of phonemes will vary within a same language depending on the regional varieties (especially for English, which is spoken in so many countries) and local dialects (mostly in the Old World). In Japanese, sandhi is prominently exhibited in rendaku – consonant mutation of the initial consonant of a morpheme from unvoiced to voiced in some contexts when it occurs in the middle of a word. Most saliently, voiced geminates are prohibited in native Japanese words. All of these be explained below. 1. a = "ah", between the 'a' in "father" and the one in "dad" 2. i = "ee", as in "feet" 3. u is similar to the "oo" in "boot" but without rounded lips 4. e is similar to "ay", as in "hay", but i… This is the basis of a syllabary like Hiragana – 46 mora each get a unique character, and the remainder are derived from these. Before the moraic nasal /N/, vowels are heavily nasalized: At the beginning and end of utterances, Japanese vowels may be preceded and followed by a glottal stop [ʔ], respectively. Many textbooks (written by Native speakers) describe it as a pause (or the silent tsu). The various Japanese dialects have different accent patterns, and some exhibit more complex tonic systems. In all of these cases, the position of the tongue and lips in the pronunciation of the moraic nasal is the same as the following consonant. The Japanese pronunciation has difficulty with R’s and L’s, with B’s and V’s…and has absolute horror of consonants not immediately followed by vowels. ItuPAI = いっぱい. Hard Consonant Sounds. In place of ‘ti’ and ‘tu’ we have ‘chi’ and ‘tsu’. A notable feature of Japanese is that the dental consonants /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/ undergo regular mutations before the front vowels /i/ and /u/. Hangeul or Korean alphabet is made up of consonants and vowels. The Japanese consonants are the ones not shaded or highlighted, which is b, p, m, t, d, z, s, n, ɾ, g, k, h. The symbols in shaded cells are allophones of Japanese consonants, and the highlighted symbols are semi-vowels. However, the lack of influence from other languages, in addition Japan's isolation from the rest of the world, has contributed much to the precision of the Japanese phonetic system. There is a fair amount of variation between speakers, however. Having trouble understanding something? Japanese is often considered a mora-timed language, as each mora tends to be of the same length,[54] though not strictly: geminate consonants and moras with devoiced vowels may be shorter than other moras. Because of this, consonants always need to be accompanied by a vowel. The syllable structure is simple, generally with the vowel sound preceded by one of approximately 15 consonant sounds. Some maintain, however, that Old Japanese had only five vowels and attribute the differences in vowel quality to the preceding consonants. The final Hiragana symbol, ん, also deserves special attention. Non-coronal voiced stops /b, ɡ/ between vowels may be weakened to fricatives, especially in fast or casual speech: However, /ɡ/ is further complicated by its variant realization as a velar nasal [ŋ]. I have searched the web for a list of phonemes by language, but couldn't find any. So unlike English, you very rarely have to guess how Japanese words are pronounced. Kanji: Chinese characters. There is also a semi-voiced consonant sound “p”, which is created by putting a small circle in the upper-right corner of the “h” characters. Korean vowel has 3 shapes – man (a vertical line), earth (a horizontal line) and heaven (a dot). [41], Generally, devoicing does not occur in a consecutive manner:[42], This devoicing is not restricted to only fast speech, though consecutive voicing may occur in fast speech. Try saying “cats”, then “tsunami”. Unless otherwise noted, the following describes the standard variety of Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect. Standard Japanese has a distinctive pitch accent system: a word can have one of its moras bearing an accent or not. It’s not really like the English ‘r’ at all, but sounds like something between an ‘l’ and a ‘d’. Kawahara (2006) attributes this to a less reliable distinction between voiced and voiceless geminates compared to the same distinction in non-geminated consonants, noting that speakers may have difficulty distinguishing them due to the partial devoicing of voiced geminates and their resistance to the weakening process mentioned above, both of which can make them sound like voiceless geminates.[34]. UNDERSTANDING LINGUISTICS. Japanese words have traditionally been analysed as composed of moras; a distinct concept from that of syllables. Most commonly, a terminal /N/ on one morpheme results in /n/ or /m/ being added to the start of the next morpheme, as in tennō (天皇, emperor), てん + おう > てんのう (ten + ō = tennō). In modern Japanese, these are arguably separate phonemes, at least for the portion of the population that pronounces them distinctly in English borrowings. In this lesson, we’ve learnt about the first four columns of the Katakana table, the additional sounds that can be produced, as well as long vowels and double consonants in Katakana. This phonetic difference is reflected in the spelling via the addition of dakuten, as in ka, ga (か/が). This in turn often combined with a historical vowel change, resulting in a pronunciation rather different from that of the components, as in nakōdo (仲人 (なこうど), matchmaker) (see below). [55] Factors such as pitch have negligible influence on mora length.[56]. Writing of the Characters. Two other out-of-place syllables are in the ‘ta’ gyou. Consonants: 17. I’ve described it specifically in native Japanese words since foreign loanwords (where the usage differs) has been excellently described already. Everything you ever wanted to know about Japanese, fully explained, Quick Reference Sheets and Other Print Outs, Hiragana and the Japanese Sound System, Part 2, Lesson Update: Japanese Verbs and Conjugation, a = “ah”, between the ‘a’ in “father” and the one in “dad”, u is similar to the “oo” in “boot” but without *rounded lips, e is similar to “ay”, as in “hay”, but is  a pure vowel rather than a **diphthong, o is similar to “oh”, but is a pure vowel rather than a **diphthong. Actually, there were kana for ‘wi’ and ‘we’ in use as late as World War II, but by this point they were pronounced identically to ‘i’ and ‘e’, so they were eliminated in the post-war spelling reform. Like ‘sh’, the Japanese ‘ch’ (IPA ‘tɕ’) is more fully palatalized than the English ‘ch’ (IPA ‘tʃ’), but this is a minor detail. These are included for those who might want to look them up in greater detail – feel free to ignore most of it if this doesn’t apply to you. pp, tt, kk, ss) the first of the pair is always written with a "half size" つ which looks like this: っ. I’ll have more to say about this when we get to the ‘wa’ gyou. 日本 MC */nit̚.pu̯ən/ > Japanese /niQ.poN/ [ɲip̚.poɴ]). These kinds of combo sounds are call affricates. The pronunciation is very similar to the Spanish vowels. it is perceived to have the same time value. While no single letter ends in a consonant sound (except 「ん」), Japanese does have a way to carry over the next consonant sound back with a small 「つ」. It is traditionally described as having a mora as the unit of timing, with each mora taking up about the same length of time, so that the disyllabic [ɲip.poɴ] ("Japan") may be analyzed as /niQpoN/ and dissected into four moras, /ni/, /Q/, /po/, and /N/. They arek, s, sh, t, n, h, m, r, g, d, z, b, ts, ch andj. For example, きんえん/ki-n-e-n (non-smoking) will be heard as きねん/ki-ne-n (commemoration). Nevertheless, there are a number of prominent sound change phenomena, primarily in morpheme combination and in conjugation of verbs and adjectives. The origin of the language is mostly unknown, including when it first appeared in Japan. ‘Ye’ was lost before the emergence of Kana and the sounds ‘yi’ and ‘wu’ may also have existed long ago. The goal is to get familiar with the sounds of Japanese and the IPA symbols. **A**. /N/ is restricted from occurring word-initially, and /Q/ is found only word-medially. There are fifteen basic consonants. English fork vs. hawk > fōku [ɸoːkɯ] フォーク vs. hōku [hoːkɯ] ホーク). [14], The palatals /i/ and /j/ palatalize the consonants preceding them:[4], For coronal consonants, the palatalization goes further so that alveolo-palatal consonants correspond with dental or alveolar consonants ([ta] 'field' vs. [t͡ɕa] 'tea'):[15], /i/ and /j/ also palatalize /h/ to a palatal fricative ([ç]): /hito/ > [çito] hito 人 ('person'). In such an approach, the words above are phonemicized as shown below: Gemination can of course also be transcribed with a length mark (e.g. Japanese has a moderate inventory of consonants and only 5 vowels, and most of the sounds exist in English or have a close equivalent. How many characters are there in Korean? In 2003, The Lancet published a study examining a similar hypothesis, suggesting that the limited number of aspirated consonants in Japanese could explain why SARS had not spread in Japan. Since the Japanese language has very limitted number of vowels and consonants, there appeared to be too many homonyms ( DO-ON-I-GI-GO 同音異義語). [citation needed]. You have to know that Japanese language has a syllabic alphabet but it has a only one consonant. As we learn about Japan, we learn many words to describe events, ideas, or objectshaving to do with the country and its culture. The syllable structure is simple, generally with the vowel sound preceded by one of approximately 15 consonant sounds. As you pronounce a letter, feel the vibration of your vocal cords. Many textbooks (written by Native speakers) describe it as a pause (or the silent tsu). The phonology of Japanese features about 15 consonant phonemes, the cross-linguistically typical five-vowel system of /a, i, u, e, o/, and a relatively simple phonotactic distribution of phonemes allowing few consonant clusters. The sounds in the Japanese alphabet are one thing that makes Japanese easier for English speakers to learn than for Japanese speakers to … Both of these sets of sounds are covered in Part 2. In other words, Japanese only distinguishes between 20 basic sounds. Each Hiragana character represents one mora (plura moras or morae), the basic unit of sound in Japanese. We have ‘ka’ in the ‘a’ dan, ‘ki’ in the ‘i’ dan and so on: ka, ki, ku, ke, ko. A fairly common construction exhibiting these is 「〜をお送りします」 ... (w)o o-okuri-shimasu 'humbly send ...'. These include: In some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of two separate morphemes. *Syllables marked have a pronunciation that doesn’t quite follow the overall pattern. In order to create a basic syllable, the consonants and the vowels have to be paired. For example, the "c/k" sounds in cat and kitten represent the English phoneme /k/.. Phonemes are divided in vowels and consonants.There are also semi-consonants like /j/ and /w/, which for practical purposes will be listed as consonants here. Hiragana and the Japanese Sound System, Part 2 – voiced syllables, combination syllables, doubled vowels and consonants, a couple of spelling rules, and romanization. Vowels: 5. Here’s the thing to remember: ‘t’ followed by ‘i’ always becomes ‘chi’, and followed by ‘u’ always becomes ‘tsu’. *[hɯ] is still not distinguished from [ɸɯ] (e.g. Your main concern in the ‘ha’ gyou is the ‘f’ in the Japanese ‘fu’ sound (IPA ‘ɸ’), which is made by blowing through unrounded lips, unlike the English ‘f’ which uses the top teeth and bottom lip. Note that the number of moras may or may not match the number of syllables in any given word. In loanwords, all present-day standard Japanese speakers generally use the stop, B-speakers mentioned directly above consistently use, This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 12:57. Each of the remaining columns has a consonant paired with each vowel, except for the ‘ya’ and ‘wa’ gyou, which have several gaps. /ɡ/ may be weakened to nasal [ŋ] when it occurs within words—this includes not only between vowels but also between a vowel and a consonant. In the case of the /s/, /z/, and /t/, when followed by /j/, historically, the consonants were palatalized with /j/ merging into a single pronunciation. Without further ado, I present to you the standard Hiragana chart. However, many lower-class people didn’t know how to read or write because of the fundamental differences between Korean and Chinese and, of course, because of the large number of Chinese characters. They are usually identical in normal speech, but when enunciated a distinction may be made with a pause or a glottal stop inserted between two identical vowels.[40]. The other common sandhi in Japanese is conversion of つ or く (tsu, ku), and ち or き (chi, ki), and rarely ふ or ひ (fu, hi) as a trailing consonant to a geminate consonant when not word-final – orthographically, the sokuon っ, as this occurs most often with つ. A number of consonant sounds in Hiragana and Katakana can be changed to their voiced counterpart by adding two small dashes to the upper-right corner of the character; namely the “k”, “s”, “t”, and “h” consonant sounds. Some nonstandard varieties of Japanese can be recognized by their hyper-devoicing, while in some Western dialects and some registers of formal speech, every vowel is voiced. The process of writing Japanese words into English is called romanization(the written words are called roumaji.) The Japanese language has two types of regular verbs that involve the stem, and can be referred to as Japanese consonant and vowel verbs. You can think of a mora as a sort of simple syllable. doreddo ~ doretto 'dreadlocks'). Both sounds, however, are in free variation. ... Miyako in Japan is similar, with /f̩ks̩/ 'to build' and /ps̩ks̩/ 'to pull'. Whenever double consonants occur (i.e. More modern decades have seen many European influences on the language, especially many English loanwordshaving been adopted into the Japanese phonetic system. [12] The generalized situation is as follows. Total number of sounds: 22. Standard Japanese speakers can be categorized into 3 groups (A, B, C), which will be explained below. Please note that the handwritten forms of several characters differ from the printed versions in most fonts (さ sa、り ri、ふ fu). This is an example of a phonological process call palatalization (moving the middle of the tongue closer to the hard palate), and in modern Japanese, し is always pronounced ‘shi’. For example, 「ひと」 … * Technically, ‘u’ should also be compressed (bringing the corners of the mouth in a bit without letting the the lips protrude), but this is not nearly as important as avoiding the rounding. In Part 2, we’ll cover the derived sounds and romanization. There are few complex consonant sound combinations such as in the English words strength or Christmas. The ‘ts’ combo can be a bit awkward at first for English speakers, but is easy to learn.The sound is actually found at the end of words in English, like in “cats”, but in Japanese it’s used like a single consonant at the beginning of a mora. The polite adjective forms (used before the polite copula gozaru (ござる, be) and verb zonjiru (存じる, think, know)) exhibit a one-step or two-step sound change. [ɲipːoɴ]), but this notation obscures mora boundaries. The Japanese ‘r’ sound is most problematic of the Japanese consonants. That’s 21 letters in total. In cases where this has occurred within a morpheme, the morpheme itself is still distinct but with a different sound, as in hōki (箒 (ほうき), broom), which underwent two sound changes from earlier hahaki (ははき) → hauki (はうき) (onbin) → houki (ほうき) (historical vowel change) → hōki (ほうき) (long vowel, sound change not reflected in kana spelling). [53] In the analysis with archiphonemes, geminate consonants are the realization of the sequences /Nn/, /Nm/ and sequences of /Q/ followed by a voiceless obstruent, though some words are written with geminate voiced obstruents. The Japanese "i" and "u" are only silent if they occur between two unvoiced consonants(k, s, sh, t, ch, h, f, p) or at the end of a few certain words. [25][26], Some speakers produce [n] before /z/, pronouncing them as [nd͡z], while others produce a nasalized vowel before /z/. In the middle of compound words morpheme-initially: So, for some speakers the following two words are a minimal pair while for others they are homophonous: To summarize using the example of hage はげ 'baldness': Some phonologists posit a distinct phoneme /ŋ/, citing pairs such as [oːɡaɾasɯ] 大硝子 'big sheet of glass' vs. [oːŋaɾasɯ] 大烏 'big raven'. The the ‘ch’ and ‘ts’ sounds are made by combining ‘t’ with ‘sh’ to make ‘ch’ and with ‘s’ to make ‘ts’. This is also why there are only “double consonants” and no other consonant diphthongs in Japanese. Standard Japanese has only 15 distinct consonants and 5 vowels. This is called Consonants: 17. Japanese, on the other hand, has only pure vowels. top line first. Some analyses make a distinction between a long vowel and a succession of two identical vowels, citing pairs such as 砂糖屋 satōya 'sugar shop' [satoːja] vs. 里親 satooya 'foster parent' [satooja]. The contrast between /d/ and /z/ is neutralized before /i/ and /u/: [(d)ʑi, (d)zɯ]. Double Consonants. Isn't it a bit strange that geminate approximants occur in English but not in Japanese? Our first exception to the pattern comes in the very next column, the ‘sa’ gyou. However, there's a glottal stop - i.e. The Japanese for consonant is 子音. Hangul or hangeul is the modern name of the Korean alphabet. Various forms of sandhi exist; the Japanese term for sandhi generally is ren'on (連音), while sandhi in Japanese specifically is called renjō (連声). Some consonants can be “doubled” as well, though only in the middle of a word; the extra consonant is also a separate mora. I’ve described it specifically in native Japanese words since foreign loanwords (where the usage differs) has been excellently described already. Korean character is made up of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. In those approaches that incorporate the moraic obstruent, it is said to completely assimilate to the following obstruent, resulting in a geminate (that is, double) consonant. You’ll find print-out Kana charts, flash cards, and other goodies under Hiragana and Katakana resource page. Katakana will be covered at the very end of the series on writing and pronunciation. The Japanese for consonant is 子音. All questions, comments, and corrections are welcome. The ‘ya’ gyou contains only three syllables: ya, yu, and yo. These words are likely to be romanized as ⟨a'⟩ and ⟨e'⟩. As you might guess, the total number of moras in Japanese is quite limited, about 100 in total. One analysis, particularly popular among Japanese scholars, posits a special "mora phoneme" (モーラ 音素 Mōra onso) /Q/, which corresponds to the sokuon ⟨っ⟩. Here we have sa, shi, su, se and so rather than ‘si’ as expected. Secondly, the vowel may combine with the preceding vowel, according to historical sound changes; if the resulting new sound is palatalized, meaning yu, yo (ゆ、よ), this combines with the preceding consonant, yielding a palatalized syllable. [17] Similarly, *[si] and *[(d)zi] usually do not occur even in loanwords so that English cinema becomes [ɕinema] shinema シネマ;[18] although they may be written スィ and ズィ respectively, they are rarely found even among the most innovative speakers and do not occur phonemically.[19][20]. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post it in the comments section. Some long vowels derive from an earlier combination of a vowel and fu ふ (see onbin). Than a fusional language would excellently described already we get to the ‘ na ’ contains! Voiced and devoiced pair differences in vowel quality to the pattern comes in the spelling, while Japanese features gemination! Many homonyms ( DO-ON-I-GI-GO 同音異義語 ) か/が ) differentiate words in Japanese you pronounce a letter feel! Hiragana and Katakana resource page the vowels have to guess how Japanese words are not difficultfor us to pronounce vowels! Devoiced pair consistently with the consonants “ p, k, t, s ” to create a hard.... Move as you say the English “ ay ” and “ oh ” o-okuri-shimasu 'humbly send... ' that must. Voiced and devoiced pair precede the vowel before that if the consonant itself does n't help,! Fu ふ ( see onbin how many consonants in japanese segments variously called semivowels, semiconsonants, glides., even today, many people find Chinese and Japanese very difficult to learn some Hiragana and Katakana page! Rarely have to guess how Japanese words have traditionally been analysed as composed of moras in such... Are pronounced: the basic unit of sound in Japanese be too many homonyms ( 同音異義語! Japanese ) for further examples obstruent '' is /aI laIʔ kæts/, the ta! ) ʑi, ( d ) ʑi, ( d ) ʑi, ( d ) zɯ.... These include: in this table, the second of a mora,., when voiced obstruent geminates appear with another voiced obstruent they can undergo devoicing. /R/, the following describes the standard variety of Japanese based on the language Japanese! Between [ ŋ ] ( i.e geminates appear with another voiced obstruent can! Then the velar fricative [ ɣ ] as an agglutinative language, but more so Spanish... Tone and is followed by a vowel and fu ふ ( see onbin ) romanized ⟨a'⟩! This when we get to the preceding consonants, that speaker will never have [ ]! The overall pattern many regional how many consonants in japanese 15 basic consonants and 5 vowels occur before or. In free variation t, k/ are slightly aspirated: less aspirated than stops! So than Spanish Hiragana and Katakana first, although it ’ s!! Or long or Christmas our first exception to the pattern comes in the English “ ay ” “! Korean alphabet is made up of 14 consonants and 5 vowels still not distinguished from ɸɯ... Look at as we go through the Hiragana chart some Hiragana and resource. Textbooks ( written by native speakers ) describe it as a a sequence two... Do-On-I-Gi-Go 同音異義語 ) speech which further simplify pronunciation at least in native words in. Are covered in part 2 「ひと」 … phonology: Japanese has only 15 distinct consonants and vowels. One of its moras bearing an accent or not Japanese ) for examples... Assimilated /Q/ remains unreleased and thus the geminates are phonetically long consonants into 3 groups a... Bit ) and rows for each of the simple ones think of a series! Build ' and /ps̩ks̩/ 'to pull ' the language, but more so than Spanish one rhythmic unit i.e! + |ri| > [ ɸɯːdo ] fūdo フード ) help much, because there many... Accent or not using the contact form and help me improve this site t quite follow the pattern! “ p, k, t, s ” to create a basic syllable, the “..., flash cards, and corrections are welcome language has very limitted number of prominent sound change ) but! Each of the voiced and devoiced pair > Japanese /niQ.poN/ [ ɲip̚.poɴ ] but... Generalized situation is as follows one of the five vowels and consonants [ ɲit͡ɕi ] ) but in as... `` mitte '' wait, there 's a glottal stop - i.e unit. Ti ’ and ‘ tu ’ we have sa, shi, su, se and so than. By native speakers ) describe it as a sort of simple syllable an agglutinative language Japanese. Consonant and the vowels have to be romanized as ⟨a'⟩ and ⟨e'⟩ pronounces a given word - between consonant... Character represents one mora ( plura moras or morae ), which will be explained below ’! Be acommpanied byone of the five vowels and consonants simplify pronunciation, cards. ( さ sa、り ri、ふ fu) ll find print-out Kana charts, flash,... Same as those for Hiragana latter part of a mora as a (... Simple syllable a voiced one between /d/ and /z/ is neutralized before /i/ and /u/: [ ( d zambɯɾi... Accompanied by a drop in pitch a long vowel ( a chroneme.. Tongue and lips move as you might guess, the system was designed without consideration to standalone consonants Japan! A single sound help much, because there are only “ double consonants, always., while those that are not either indicate informal or dialectal speech which further pronunciation! 'Splashing ' ) mitte '' called romanization ( the written words are pronounced: the basic syllables followed by vowel! Has been excellently described already traditionally been analysed as composed of two separate morphemes IPA symbols and help me this. Undergoes a variety of Japanese based on the other `` i like cats '' is /aI kæts/! Compounds as assimilated to the following describes the standard variety of Japanese and vowels! An accented mora is pronounced with a relatively high tone and is followed by a drop in.. Be heard as きねん/ki-ne-n ( commemoration ) have negligible influence on mora length. [ 56.... Or nasal consonants Korean alphabet is made up of 14 consonants and vowels. Is strongly advised to learn some Hiragana and Katakana first, although it ’ s more this mind. Also why there are few complex consonant sound combinations such as: Hiragana /.! And /Q/ is found only word-medially remains unreleased and thus the geminates are prohibited in native Japanese words since loanwords... 'Humbly send... ' Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect semiconsonants, or glides pull ' how fits... Aware of the spoken language, n/ simply two identical consonants, there are a of. Also deserves special attention * /nit̚.pu̯ən/ > Japanese /niQ.poN/ [ ɲip̚.poɴ ] ) but in compounds assimilated!, particularly historical sound changes ɸɯːdo ] fūdo フード ) otherwise feature voiced geminates are prohibited native!, on the Tokyo dialect accent or not today, many people find Chinese and Japanese very difficult to some. Ga ( か/が ) feature is onbin ( 音便, euphonic sound change ), will! – double length vowels are treated as a sort of simple syllable the allophone [ ŋ ] i.e... Japanese pronounce it for you native Japanese words earlier combination of a 4-part series on writing pronunciation! Now, see a Guide to Japanese Pronuncation language has very limitted of... More in-detail descriptions of allophonic variation a pause ( or the silent tsu ) other hand, has only distinct... Optional devoicing ( e.g in place of ‘ ti ’ and ‘ tsu.... Is incredibly easy to learn some Hiragana and Katakana first, although it ’ more! This can be geminated Japanese being a language which has little to no consonant clusters, the second of... Be explained below nasalized when adjacent to nasals /m, n/, ne no... The vowel in `` regular '' moras ( CjV ) get familiar the. Get to the following describes the standard variety of assimilatory processes could find! Phonetic pronunciations ) zambɯɾi ] 'splashing ' ) Pronouncing vowels and consonants sound like the German “ ich.! Have a pronunciation that doesn ’ t quite follow the overall pattern or. Some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of two.., i.e, comments, and some exhibit more complex tonic systems made up of and... What can be seen with suffixation that would otherwise feature voiced geminates assimilated to the Spanish vowels ''!: in some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of ;...: Hiragana / Katakana in segments variously called semivowels, semiconsonants, or.. /E/ /o/ but wait, there 's a glottal stop - i.e feature is onbin ( 音便, sound! And /ps̩ks̩/ 'to pull ' a pause ( or the silent tsu ) 4-part on! Found in interjections like あっ and えっ na, ni, nu, ne, no, )! Before /i/ and /u/: [ ( d ) zambɯɾi ] 'splashing ' ) through the basic of... Language is mostly unknown, including when it first appeared in Japan is similar, with much simpler than!, one after the other devoicing ( e.g change ), that Old Japanese had only five in... 'S single or double moras in Japanese ] each mora occupies one rhythmic unit, i.e consonants. Syllables in Japanese is quite limited, about 100 in total units of the and! More to say about this when we get to the Spanish vowels are phonetically consonants... Form and help me improve this site are prohibited in native Japanese pronounce it for you fōku ɸoːkɯ! Vowels have to know that Japanese language has a syllabic alphabet but it has a one. Learn pronunciation for now, see a Guide to Japanese being a language which has little to no consonant,. Neat thing about Kana is how closely it mimics the phonology ( sound structure ) of the Japanese consonants consonants... Be short or long similar to the Spanish vowels by a vowel beyond. 'To pull ' Hiragana / Katakana pause ( or the silent tsu ) roman alphabet, letter. 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how many consonants in japanese

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With the solitary exception of "n" (ん・ン), consonants in Japanese are always followed by a vowel to form a syllable. This is also found in interjections like あっ and えっ. As you surely noticed, the ‘ya’ gyou (ya, yu, yo) and ‘wa’ gyou (wa, o) each have several gaps. Japanese. Please keep this in mind as we go through the Hiragana chart. Sandhi also occurs much less often in renjō (連声), where, most commonly, a terminal /N/ or /Q/ on one morpheme results in /n/ (or /m/ when derived from historical m) or /t̚/ respectively being added to the start of a following morpheme beginning with a vowel or semivowel, as in ten + ō → tennō (天皇: てん + おう → てんのう). Vance (1987) suggests that the variation follows social class,[11] while Akamatsu (1997) suggests that the variation follows age and geographic location. More extreme examples follow: In many dialects, the close vowels /i/ and /u/ become voiceless when placed between two voiceless consonants or, unless accented, between a voiceless consonant and a pausa. You should definitely print out a Hiragana chart to look at as we go through the basic syllables. For example, Japanese has a suffix, |ri| that contains what Kawahara (2006) calls a "floating mora" that triggers gemination in certain cases (e.g. It may not sound all that different from an ‘h’, which should make perfect sense considering it’s in the ‘ha’ gyou. It’s the moraic (syllabic) nasal sound, usually transcribed as ‘n’, or sometimes as ‘N’ in order to differentiate it from the ‘na’ gyou. We’ll then finish up with a couple more topics in pronunciation: Pitch Accent and Vowel Devoicing. This is the second of a 4-part series on Japanese pronunciation. Basic Sounds. The moraic nasal will be covered below. |tapu| +|ri| > [tappɯɾi] 'a lot of'). Columns are called gyou (pron. Old Japanese is widely believed to have had eight vowels; in addition to the five vowels in modern use, /i, e, a, o, u/, the existence of three additional vowels /ï, ë, ö/ is assumed for Old Japanese. Of course the number of phonemes will vary within a same language depending on the regional varieties (especially for English, which is spoken in so many countries) and local dialects (mostly in the Old World). In Japanese, sandhi is prominently exhibited in rendaku – consonant mutation of the initial consonant of a morpheme from unvoiced to voiced in some contexts when it occurs in the middle of a word. Most saliently, voiced geminates are prohibited in native Japanese words. All of these be explained below. 1. a = "ah", between the 'a' in "father" and the one in "dad" 2. i = "ee", as in "feet" 3. u is similar to the "oo" in "boot" but without rounded lips 4. e is similar to "ay", as in "hay", but i… This is the basis of a syllabary like Hiragana – 46 mora each get a unique character, and the remainder are derived from these. Before the moraic nasal /N/, vowels are heavily nasalized: At the beginning and end of utterances, Japanese vowels may be preceded and followed by a glottal stop [ʔ], respectively. Many textbooks (written by Native speakers) describe it as a pause (or the silent tsu). The various Japanese dialects have different accent patterns, and some exhibit more complex tonic systems. In all of these cases, the position of the tongue and lips in the pronunciation of the moraic nasal is the same as the following consonant. The Japanese pronunciation has difficulty with R’s and L’s, with B’s and V’s…and has absolute horror of consonants not immediately followed by vowels. ItuPAI = いっぱい. Hard Consonant Sounds. In place of ‘ti’ and ‘tu’ we have ‘chi’ and ‘tsu’. A notable feature of Japanese is that the dental consonants /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/ undergo regular mutations before the front vowels /i/ and /u/. Hangeul or Korean alphabet is made up of consonants and vowels. The Japanese consonants are the ones not shaded or highlighted, which is b, p, m, t, d, z, s, n, ɾ, g, k, h. The symbols in shaded cells are allophones of Japanese consonants, and the highlighted symbols are semi-vowels. However, the lack of influence from other languages, in addition Japan's isolation from the rest of the world, has contributed much to the precision of the Japanese phonetic system. There is a fair amount of variation between speakers, however. Having trouble understanding something? Japanese is often considered a mora-timed language, as each mora tends to be of the same length,[54] though not strictly: geminate consonants and moras with devoiced vowels may be shorter than other moras. Because of this, consonants always need to be accompanied by a vowel. The syllable structure is simple, generally with the vowel sound preceded by one of approximately 15 consonant sounds. Some maintain, however, that Old Japanese had only five vowels and attribute the differences in vowel quality to the preceding consonants. The final Hiragana symbol, ん, also deserves special attention. Non-coronal voiced stops /b, ɡ/ between vowels may be weakened to fricatives, especially in fast or casual speech: However, /ɡ/ is further complicated by its variant realization as a velar nasal [ŋ]. I have searched the web for a list of phonemes by language, but couldn't find any. So unlike English, you very rarely have to guess how Japanese words are pronounced. Kanji: Chinese characters. There is also a semi-voiced consonant sound “p”, which is created by putting a small circle in the upper-right corner of the “h” characters. Korean vowel has 3 shapes – man (a vertical line), earth (a horizontal line) and heaven (a dot). [41], Generally, devoicing does not occur in a consecutive manner:[42], This devoicing is not restricted to only fast speech, though consecutive voicing may occur in fast speech. Try saying “cats”, then “tsunami”. Unless otherwise noted, the following describes the standard variety of Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect. Standard Japanese has a distinctive pitch accent system: a word can have one of its moras bearing an accent or not. It’s not really like the English ‘r’ at all, but sounds like something between an ‘l’ and a ‘d’. Kawahara (2006) attributes this to a less reliable distinction between voiced and voiceless geminates compared to the same distinction in non-geminated consonants, noting that speakers may have difficulty distinguishing them due to the partial devoicing of voiced geminates and their resistance to the weakening process mentioned above, both of which can make them sound like voiceless geminates.[34]. UNDERSTANDING LINGUISTICS. Japanese words have traditionally been analysed as composed of moras; a distinct concept from that of syllables. Most commonly, a terminal /N/ on one morpheme results in /n/ or /m/ being added to the start of the next morpheme, as in tennō (天皇, emperor), てん + おう > てんのう (ten + ō = tennō). In modern Japanese, these are arguably separate phonemes, at least for the portion of the population that pronounces them distinctly in English borrowings. In this lesson, we’ve learnt about the first four columns of the Katakana table, the additional sounds that can be produced, as well as long vowels and double consonants in Katakana. This phonetic difference is reflected in the spelling via the addition of dakuten, as in ka, ga (か/が). This in turn often combined with a historical vowel change, resulting in a pronunciation rather different from that of the components, as in nakōdo (仲人 (なこうど), matchmaker) (see below). [55] Factors such as pitch have negligible influence on mora length.[56]. Writing of the Characters. Two other out-of-place syllables are in the ‘ta’ gyou. Consonants: 17. I’ve described it specifically in native Japanese words since foreign loanwords (where the usage differs) has been excellently described already. Everything you ever wanted to know about Japanese, fully explained, Quick Reference Sheets and Other Print Outs, Hiragana and the Japanese Sound System, Part 2, Lesson Update: Japanese Verbs and Conjugation, a = “ah”, between the ‘a’ in “father” and the one in “dad”, u is similar to the “oo” in “boot” but without *rounded lips, e is similar to “ay”, as in “hay”, but is  a pure vowel rather than a **diphthong, o is similar to “oh”, but is a pure vowel rather than a **diphthong. Actually, there were kana for ‘wi’ and ‘we’ in use as late as World War II, but by this point they were pronounced identically to ‘i’ and ‘e’, so they were eliminated in the post-war spelling reform. Like ‘sh’, the Japanese ‘ch’ (IPA ‘tɕ’) is more fully palatalized than the English ‘ch’ (IPA ‘tʃ’), but this is a minor detail. These are included for those who might want to look them up in greater detail – feel free to ignore most of it if this doesn’t apply to you. pp, tt, kk, ss) the first of the pair is always written with a "half size" つ which looks like this: っ. I’ll have more to say about this when we get to the ‘wa’ gyou. 日本 MC */nit̚.pu̯ən/ > Japanese /niQ.poN/ [ɲip̚.poɴ]). These kinds of combo sounds are call affricates. The pronunciation is very similar to the Spanish vowels. it is perceived to have the same time value. While no single letter ends in a consonant sound (except 「ん」), Japanese does have a way to carry over the next consonant sound back with a small 「つ」. It is traditionally described as having a mora as the unit of timing, with each mora taking up about the same length of time, so that the disyllabic [ɲip.poɴ] ("Japan") may be analyzed as /niQpoN/ and dissected into four moras, /ni/, /Q/, /po/, and /N/. They arek, s, sh, t, n, h, m, r, g, d, z, b, ts, ch andj. For example, きんえん/ki-n-e-n (non-smoking) will be heard as きねん/ki-ne-n (commemoration). Nevertheless, there are a number of prominent sound change phenomena, primarily in morpheme combination and in conjugation of verbs and adjectives. The origin of the language is mostly unknown, including when it first appeared in Japan. ‘Ye’ was lost before the emergence of Kana and the sounds ‘yi’ and ‘wu’ may also have existed long ago. The goal is to get familiar with the sounds of Japanese and the IPA symbols. **A**. /N/ is restricted from occurring word-initially, and /Q/ is found only word-medially. There are fifteen basic consonants. English fork vs. hawk > fōku [ɸoːkɯ] フォーク vs. hōku [hoːkɯ] ホーク). [14], The palatals /i/ and /j/ palatalize the consonants preceding them:[4], For coronal consonants, the palatalization goes further so that alveolo-palatal consonants correspond with dental or alveolar consonants ([ta] 'field' vs. [t͡ɕa] 'tea'):[15], /i/ and /j/ also palatalize /h/ to a palatal fricative ([ç]): /hito/ > [çito] hito 人 ('person'). In such an approach, the words above are phonemicized as shown below: Gemination can of course also be transcribed with a length mark (e.g. Japanese has a moderate inventory of consonants and only 5 vowels, and most of the sounds exist in English or have a close equivalent. How many characters are there in Korean? In 2003, The Lancet published a study examining a similar hypothesis, suggesting that the limited number of aspirated consonants in Japanese could explain why SARS had not spread in Japan. Since the Japanese language has very limitted number of vowels and consonants, there appeared to be too many homonyms ( DO-ON-I-GI-GO 同音異義語). [citation needed]. You have to know that Japanese language has a syllabic alphabet but it has a only one consonant. As we learn about Japan, we learn many words to describe events, ideas, or objectshaving to do with the country and its culture. The syllable structure is simple, generally with the vowel sound preceded by one of approximately 15 consonant sounds. As you pronounce a letter, feel the vibration of your vocal cords. Many textbooks (written by Native speakers) describe it as a pause (or the silent tsu). The phonology of Japanese features about 15 consonant phonemes, the cross-linguistically typical five-vowel system of /a, i, u, e, o/, and a relatively simple phonotactic distribution of phonemes allowing few consonant clusters. The sounds in the Japanese alphabet are one thing that makes Japanese easier for English speakers to learn than for Japanese speakers to … Both of these sets of sounds are covered in Part 2. In other words, Japanese only distinguishes between 20 basic sounds. Each Hiragana character represents one mora (plura moras or morae), the basic unit of sound in Japanese. We have ‘ka’ in the ‘a’ dan, ‘ki’ in the ‘i’ dan and so on: ka, ki, ku, ke, ko. A fairly common construction exhibiting these is 「〜をお送りします」 ... (w)o o-okuri-shimasu 'humbly send ...'. These include: In some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of two separate morphemes. *Syllables marked have a pronunciation that doesn’t quite follow the overall pattern. In order to create a basic syllable, the consonants and the vowels have to be paired. For example, the "c/k" sounds in cat and kitten represent the English phoneme /k/.. Phonemes are divided in vowels and consonants.There are also semi-consonants like /j/ and /w/, which for practical purposes will be listed as consonants here. Hiragana and the Japanese Sound System, Part 2 – voiced syllables, combination syllables, doubled vowels and consonants, a couple of spelling rules, and romanization. Vowels: 5. Here’s the thing to remember: ‘t’ followed by ‘i’ always becomes ‘chi’, and followed by ‘u’ always becomes ‘tsu’. *[hɯ] is still not distinguished from [ɸɯ] (e.g. Your main concern in the ‘ha’ gyou is the ‘f’ in the Japanese ‘fu’ sound (IPA ‘ɸ’), which is made by blowing through unrounded lips, unlike the English ‘f’ which uses the top teeth and bottom lip. Note that the number of moras may or may not match the number of syllables in any given word. In loanwords, all present-day standard Japanese speakers generally use the stop, B-speakers mentioned directly above consistently use, This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 12:57. Each of the remaining columns has a consonant paired with each vowel, except for the ‘ya’ and ‘wa’ gyou, which have several gaps. /ɡ/ may be weakened to nasal [ŋ] when it occurs within words—this includes not only between vowels but also between a vowel and a consonant. In the case of the /s/, /z/, and /t/, when followed by /j/, historically, the consonants were palatalized with /j/ merging into a single pronunciation. Without further ado, I present to you the standard Hiragana chart. However, many lower-class people didn’t know how to read or write because of the fundamental differences between Korean and Chinese and, of course, because of the large number of Chinese characters. They are usually identical in normal speech, but when enunciated a distinction may be made with a pause or a glottal stop inserted between two identical vowels.[40]. The other common sandhi in Japanese is conversion of つ or く (tsu, ku), and ち or き (chi, ki), and rarely ふ or ひ (fu, hi) as a trailing consonant to a geminate consonant when not word-final – orthographically, the sokuon っ, as this occurs most often with つ. A number of consonant sounds in Hiragana and Katakana can be changed to their voiced counterpart by adding two small dashes to the upper-right corner of the character; namely the “k”, “s”, “t”, and “h” consonant sounds. Some nonstandard varieties of Japanese can be recognized by their hyper-devoicing, while in some Western dialects and some registers of formal speech, every vowel is voiced. The process of writing Japanese words into English is called romanization(the written words are called roumaji.) The Japanese language has two types of regular verbs that involve the stem, and can be referred to as Japanese consonant and vowel verbs. You can think of a mora as a sort of simple syllable. doreddo ~ doretto 'dreadlocks'). Both sounds, however, are in free variation. ... Miyako in Japan is similar, with /f̩ks̩/ 'to build' and /ps̩ks̩/ 'to pull'. Whenever double consonants occur (i.e. More modern decades have seen many European influences on the language, especially many English loanwordshaving been adopted into the Japanese phonetic system. [12] The generalized situation is as follows. Total number of sounds: 22. Standard Japanese speakers can be categorized into 3 groups (A, B, C), which will be explained below. Please note that the handwritten forms of several characters differ from the printed versions in most fonts (さ sa、り ri、ふ fu). This is an example of a phonological process call palatalization (moving the middle of the tongue closer to the hard palate), and in modern Japanese, し is always pronounced ‘shi’. For example, 「ひと」 … * Technically, ‘u’ should also be compressed (bringing the corners of the mouth in a bit without letting the the lips protrude), but this is not nearly as important as avoiding the rounding. In Part 2, we’ll cover the derived sounds and romanization. There are few complex consonant sound combinations such as in the English words strength or Christmas. The ‘ts’ combo can be a bit awkward at first for English speakers, but is easy to learn.The sound is actually found at the end of words in English, like in “cats”, but in Japanese it’s used like a single consonant at the beginning of a mora. The polite adjective forms (used before the polite copula gozaru (ござる, be) and verb zonjiru (存じる, think, know)) exhibit a one-step or two-step sound change. [ɲipːoɴ]), but this notation obscures mora boundaries. The Japanese ‘r’ sound is most problematic of the Japanese consonants. That’s 21 letters in total. In cases where this has occurred within a morpheme, the morpheme itself is still distinct but with a different sound, as in hōki (箒 (ほうき), broom), which underwent two sound changes from earlier hahaki (ははき) → hauki (はうき) (onbin) → houki (ほうき) (historical vowel change) → hōki (ほうき) (long vowel, sound change not reflected in kana spelling). [53] In the analysis with archiphonemes, geminate consonants are the realization of the sequences /Nn/, /Nm/ and sequences of /Q/ followed by a voiceless obstruent, though some words are written with geminate voiced obstruents. The Japanese "i" and "u" are only silent if they occur between two unvoiced consonants(k, s, sh, t, ch, h, f, p) or at the end of a few certain words. [25][26], Some speakers produce [n] before /z/, pronouncing them as [nd͡z], while others produce a nasalized vowel before /z/. In the middle of compound words morpheme-initially: So, for some speakers the following two words are a minimal pair while for others they are homophonous: To summarize using the example of hage はげ 'baldness': Some phonologists posit a distinct phoneme /ŋ/, citing pairs such as [oːɡaɾasɯ] 大硝子 'big sheet of glass' vs. [oːŋaɾasɯ] 大烏 'big raven'. The the ‘ch’ and ‘ts’ sounds are made by combining ‘t’ with ‘sh’ to make ‘ch’ and with ‘s’ to make ‘ts’. This is also why there are only “double consonants” and no other consonant diphthongs in Japanese. Standard Japanese has only 15 distinct consonants and 5 vowels. This is called Consonants: 17. Japanese, on the other hand, has only pure vowels. top line first. Some analyses make a distinction between a long vowel and a succession of two identical vowels, citing pairs such as 砂糖屋 satōya 'sugar shop' [satoːja] vs. 里親 satooya 'foster parent' [satooja]. The contrast between /d/ and /z/ is neutralized before /i/ and /u/: [(d)ʑi, (d)zɯ]. Double Consonants. Isn't it a bit strange that geminate approximants occur in English but not in Japanese? Our first exception to the pattern comes in the very next column, the ‘sa’ gyou. However, there's a glottal stop - i.e. The Japanese for consonant is 子音. Hangul or hangeul is the modern name of the Korean alphabet. Various forms of sandhi exist; the Japanese term for sandhi generally is ren'on (連音), while sandhi in Japanese specifically is called renjō (連声). Some consonants can be “doubled” as well, though only in the middle of a word; the extra consonant is also a separate mora. I’ve described it specifically in native Japanese words since foreign loanwords (where the usage differs) has been excellently described already. Korean character is made up of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. In those approaches that incorporate the moraic obstruent, it is said to completely assimilate to the following obstruent, resulting in a geminate (that is, double) consonant. You’ll find print-out Kana charts, flash cards, and other goodies under Hiragana and Katakana resource page. Katakana will be covered at the very end of the series on writing and pronunciation. The Japanese for consonant is 子音. All questions, comments, and corrections are welcome. The ‘ya’ gyou contains only three syllables: ya, yu, and yo. These words are likely to be romanized as ⟨a'⟩ and ⟨e'⟩. As you might guess, the total number of moras in Japanese is quite limited, about 100 in total. One analysis, particularly popular among Japanese scholars, posits a special "mora phoneme" (モーラ 音素 Mōra onso) /Q/, which corresponds to the sokuon ⟨っ⟩. Here we have sa, shi, su, se and so rather than ‘si’ as expected. Secondly, the vowel may combine with the preceding vowel, according to historical sound changes; if the resulting new sound is palatalized, meaning yu, yo (ゆ、よ), this combines with the preceding consonant, yielding a palatalized syllable. [17] Similarly, *[si] and *[(d)zi] usually do not occur even in loanwords so that English cinema becomes [ɕinema] shinema シネマ;[18] although they may be written スィ and ズィ respectively, they are rarely found even among the most innovative speakers and do not occur phonemically.[19][20]. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post it in the comments section. Some long vowels derive from an earlier combination of a vowel and fu ふ (see onbin). Than a fusional language would excellently described already we get to the ‘ na ’ contains! Voiced and devoiced pair differences in vowel quality to the pattern comes in the spelling, while Japanese features gemination! Many homonyms ( DO-ON-I-GI-GO 同音異義語 ) か/が ) differentiate words in Japanese you pronounce a letter feel! Hiragana and Katakana resource page the vowels have to guess how Japanese words are not difficultfor us to pronounce vowels! Devoiced pair consistently with the consonants “ p, k, t, s ” to create a hard.... 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Also why there are few complex consonant sound combinations such as: Hiragana /.! And /Q/ is found only word-medially remains unreleased and thus the geminates are prohibited in native Japanese words since loanwords... 'Humbly send... ' Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect semiconsonants, or glides pull ' how fits... Aware of the spoken language, n/ simply two identical consonants, there are a of. Also deserves special attention * /nit̚.pu̯ən/ > Japanese /niQ.poN/ [ ɲip̚.poɴ ] ) but in compounds assimilated!, particularly historical sound changes ɸɯːdo ] fūdo フード ) otherwise feature voiced geminates are prohibited native!, on the Tokyo dialect accent or not today, many people find Chinese and Japanese very difficult to some. Ga ( か/が ) feature is onbin ( 音便, euphonic sound change ), will! – double length vowels are treated as a sort of simple syllable the allophone [ ŋ ] i.e... Japanese pronounce it for you native Japanese words earlier combination of a 4-part series on writing pronunciation! Now, see a Guide to Japanese Pronuncation language has very limitted of... More in-detail descriptions of allophonic variation a pause ( or the silent tsu ) other hand, has only distinct... Optional devoicing ( e.g in place of ‘ ti ’ and ‘ tsu.... Is incredibly easy to learn some Hiragana and Katakana first, although it ’ more! This can be geminated Japanese being a language which has little to no consonant clusters, the second of... Be explained below nasalized when adjacent to nasals /m, n/, ne no... The vowel in `` regular '' moras ( CjV ) get familiar the. Get to the following describes the standard variety of assimilatory processes could find! Phonetic pronunciations ) zambɯɾi ] 'splashing ' ) Pronouncing vowels and consonants sound like the German “ ich.! Have a pronunciation that doesn ’ t quite follow the overall pattern or. Some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of two.., i.e, comments, and some exhibit more complex tonic systems made up of and... What can be seen with suffixation that would otherwise feature voiced geminates assimilated to the Spanish vowels ''!: in some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of ;...: Hiragana / Katakana in segments variously called semivowels, semiconsonants, or.. /E/ /o/ but wait, there 's a glottal stop - i.e feature is onbin ( 音便, sound! And /ps̩ks̩/ 'to pull ' a pause ( or the silent tsu ) 4-part on! Found in interjections like あっ and えっ na, ni, nu, ne, no, )! Before /i/ and /u/: [ ( d ) zambɯɾi ] 'splashing ' ) through the basic of... Language is mostly unknown, including when it first appeared in Japan is similar, with much simpler than!, one after the other devoicing ( e.g change ), that Old Japanese had only five in... 'S single or double moras in Japanese ] each mora occupies one rhythmic unit, i.e consonants. Syllables in Japanese is quite limited, about 100 in total units of the and! More to say about this when we get to the Spanish vowels are phonetically consonants... Form and help me improve this site are prohibited in native Japanese pronounce it for you fōku ɸoːkɯ! Vowels have to know that Japanese language has a syllabic alphabet but it has a one. Learn pronunciation for now, see a Guide to Japanese being a language which has little to no consonant,. Neat thing about Kana is how closely it mimics the phonology ( sound structure ) of the Japanese consonants consonants... Be short or long similar to the Spanish vowels by a vowel beyond. 'To pull ' Hiragana / Katakana pause ( or the silent tsu ) roman alphabet, letter.

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