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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide at JapanesePod101.com.
In this series, you'll master Japanese pronunciation. Proper pronunciation is essential for being understood, and in this series, you'll learn it in a fast, accessible, and comprehensive way.
First, Japanese pronunciation is comparatively easy. Japanese has only 5 vowel and 14 consonant sounds.
Almost all Japanese syllables are made up of one of these consonants and one of these vowels, but the 5 vowels also appear individually.
Take a look at the chart. Each character, or kana, represents one syllable.
The characters in the top row of this chart represent a vowel sound only. In the left column, the characters represent consonant sounds. By combining these, you can form most Japanese syllables.
For example, look at the consonant "k" group.
Consonant k-sound plus the vowel "a"becomes "ka (か)."
Consonant k-sound plus the vowel "i" becomes "ki (き)."
Consonant k-sound plus the vowel "u" becomes "ku (く)."
Consonant k-sound plus the vowel "e" becomes "ke (け)."
Consonant k-sound plus the vowel "o" becomes "ko (こ).""
"The consonant "m" group follows the same pattern.
Consonant m-sound plus the vowel "a" becomes "ma (ま)."
Consonant m-sound plus the vowel "i" becomes "mi (み)."
Consonant m-sound plus the vowel "u" becomes "mu (む)."
Consonant m-sound plus the vowel "e" becomes "me (め)."
Consonant m-sound plus the vowel "o" becomes "mo (も).""
Again, each syllable on the kana chart is a combination of a consonant and a vowel.
The main exceptions are the 5-vowel group and the special "ん" sound.
Let's hear how some Japanese words are pronounced.
The first example is a common Japanese surname...
たなか
た・な・か
It's made up of three syllables, た、な、か
Each syllable consists of one consonant and one vowel.
Another common surname in Japanese is...
なかた
な・か・た
With a few notable exceptions, you can properly pronounce Japanese simply by reading hiragana or katakana, the two Japanese alphabets. Remember this tip, and it will help you throughout your studies.
Can you pronounce these words correctly?
ほんや
いっぱい
おばあさん
In addition to mastering how to pronounce each sound, you will learn how to pronounce a sound in a word in later of this series.
Now, the second key point is...
Each syllable in Japanese is pronounced for the same length of time with equal stress.
For example, when you say "America" in English, you put stress on "mer" - and say it for longer than the other parts. ”aMERica"
The word "アメリカ" in Japanese has 4 syllables, and you say each syllable for the same length of time. ”アメリカ”
Pronounce it like this to sound like a native Japanese speaker.
Another example. How do you say this word in English?
You would say kar-ee-oh-kee.
But, in Japanese, you say, カラオケ.
Remember that each syllable in Japanese is pronounced for the same length of time and gets equal stress.
Now to close the lesson, here's a question for you.
Why should YOU, including advanced speakers, spend time on learning proper pronunciation?
The answer...
You will be understood, and this will build confidence when you're speaking. Also, speaking with proper pronunciation is always impressive. For beginners, you're on the path to perfect pronunciation, and for more advanced students, this a chance to perfect your pronunciation.
Now you know the basics of Japanese pronunciation. In the next lesson, you'll learn the top five pronunciation mistakes Japanese learners make. You'll want to avoid these at all costs, so keep watching.
What is the hardest part of Japanese pronunciation? Tell us about it in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

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JapanesePod101.com
Friday at 6:30 pm
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Are the Japanese vowels similar to those in your language?

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JapanesePod101.com
April 23rd, 2019 at 7:02 pm
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Hi Tats,


Thank you for studying with us!


Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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tats
April 20th, 2019 at 6:27 pm
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i love this i already saw this but it is also cool to know the 2 popular Japanese names

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JapanesePod101.com
March 27th, 2019 at 7:54 pm
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Hi Sai,


Great to know that you're learning well with our lessons!


If you have any questions, please let us know.


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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Sai Baba
March 26th, 2019 at 3:49 am
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Japanese vowel sounds are very similar to indian languages

so its becoming very easy for me to pronounce all the alphabets

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JapanesePod101.com
January 26th, 2019 at 2:19 pm
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ユストゥスさん、


日本語でのコメントをありがとうございます!

とても上手な文章が書けましたね。よくできました!😄

ドイツ語の発音と日本語の発音、似ている部分が多いのですか!それは初めて知りました。


Sincerely,

Miki h

Team JapanesePod101.com


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ユストゥス
January 6th, 2019 at 4:16 am
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「りょ」と「りゅ」の発音が特に難しいと思います。

例えば「旅行」と「リュック」。

勉強を始めた時にいつも困っちゃいましたよ。😅

それ以外は日本語とドイツ語の発音がけっこう似ているのだと思います。

英語の発音の勉強のほうが日本語のより大変だったと思いますよ。😉

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JapanesePod101.com
November 11th, 2018 at 9:24 pm
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Hi Hailey,


Thank you for posting.


Practice is the key! Try to keep a daily study of the points that you need to improve and soon you'll get great results!


Please also check out some of our lessons with tips to remembering Japanese vocabulary as well:

https://www.JapanesePod101.com/lesson/ask-risa-your-japanese-questions-answered-20-how-do-you-easily-remember-japanese-vocabulary/?lp=187


https://www.JapanesePod101.com/japanese-vocabulary-lists/how-do-you-remember-words/


And in case of any questions, please feel free to contact us.:)


Sincerely,

Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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Hailey
November 9th, 2018 at 9:38 am
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I'm having a hard time remembering the different sounds that the vowels make, do you have any tips to help?


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JapanesePod101.com
August 17th, 2018 at 12:28 pm
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Hi Pedro,

Thank you for the comment!


I don't speak Spanish, but when I studied Spanish long ago, I found that Spanish pronunciation for each letter is quite similar to Japanese pronunciation (much more than English). I think that theory could fit into "r" -sound.


Keep studying with JapanesePod101.com

Cheers,

Miki(美希)

Team JapanesePod101.com

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Pedro
August 10th, 2018 at 11:04 am
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Is the Japanese "r" equivalent in pronunciation to the Spanish "r"?