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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Yamamoto.
Welcome back to The Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide at JapanesePod101.com.
In this lesson, you'll master the Japanese pause, known as the small ”tsu," or silent "tsu."
How do YOU pronounce these words?
Here's how you should pronounce them.
かっこ bracket、か・っ・こ、かっこ
きって stamp、き・っ・て、きって
すっぱい sour、す・っ・ぱ・い、すっぱい
This small つ is not pronounced as つ, but it indicates a pause.
This small つ sound is translated as a "double consonant" in English. When it's romanized, we have two consonants, like two Ks in "kakko", or two Ts in "kitte".
Once you learn kana, it will be easier to master this pronunciation as a sound represented by the small つ pause.
Again, the small つ is not pronounced as つ, but it indicates a pause.
To pronounce "kakko", say "か", then pause, and say こ. Make sure you pause for the length of one syllable. So, かっこ is made of three syllables, with one in the middle, and the middle one is a pause.
Repeat after me.
かっこ
かっこ
きって
きって
すっぱい
すっぱい needs to be said in four syllables.
すっぱい
Please master these, because if you don't pause enough, you might end up saying a completely different word. For example...
かこ and かっこ
かこ
means "past". It doesn't have small つ, and so it's pronounced in two syllables.
かっこ
Means "bracket". It has a small つ in the middle, and is pronounced in three syllables.
かこ
かっこ
The next pair is...
きて and きって
きて
means "Come." and is pronounced in two syllables
きって
means "Cut." and is pronounced in three syllables
きて
きって
So, it's really important to pause for one whole syllable.
And now, are you ready for a pronunciation tip? Do you know which position you put your tongue in when you make a pause?
Repeat after me.
きって
きって
Can you get it?
"To pronounce きって, after saying き, put your tongue in the same position for the "t" consonant and pause, and say て.
So, you just put your tongue in a position ready for the next consonant when you make a pause."
Repeat after me again.
きって
きって
The next one is...
かっこ
かっこ
After saying か, put your tongue in the same position for "k" during the pause, then say こ. Try it!
かっこ
かっこ
Let's try this.
すっぱい
すっぱい
After saying す, bring your lips together, for "p". Then make a pause and say ぱい.
すっぱい
すっぱい
Small つ is a little tricky to master. Try practicing with claps. This is helpful to time it as a whole syllable – this is why it is a pause.
Can you hear the difference between 箸 and 橋? They may sound like the same word, but they are two different words. Find out how to tell the difference in the next lesson.
Is the small, silent tsu harder for you to hear when listening or use when speaking?
See you in the next Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide lesson!

29 Comments

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JapanesePod101.com Verified
May 9th, 2014 at 06:30 PM
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Please, write a word that uses this Silent Japanese Tsu. Let's practice!

JapanesePod101.com Verified
February 10th, 2021 at 03:49 AM
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Musaabさん

Thank you for helping other learners😁


Thank you for studying with us!


Sincerely,

Erica

Team JapanesePod101.com

Musaab
January 8th, 2021 at 02:04 PM
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Anduさん


You can find an answer to your question here: -


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdUbWxZrVLw&list=PLPSfPyOOcp3RjVxt80NOgiqDBq1xfjxa4&index=3

JapanesePod101.com Verified
December 7th, 2020 at 04:05 PM
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Hi Andu,

Thank you for your questions!

As you say, "u" sound with consonants is often silent (or sounds very weak).

It often happens when another sound follows after it, like "Natsuki", "suki", "itsu desu ka."

But when "u" sound comes at the end, like "itsu?" "watashi mo iku", it tends to be pronounced stronger.

And "u" sound with consonants like "k", "n", "m", "y" and "r" is relatively pronounced clearly.

Also, even "u" sound with consonants is silent, the syllable is the same😊


Hi Musaab,

Thank you for your comments!

Wow, I didn't know in Arabic you have the same pronunciation as the small つ in Japanese.


Hope you enjoy learning Japanese with us:)


Sincerely,

Miho

Team JapanesePod101.com

Musaab
December 7th, 2020 at 03:00 PM
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I meant the consonant of the letter it is above a double consonant (yep, Shaddah (AND 2 Arabic vowels) are written ABOVE the letter).

Musaab
December 7th, 2020 at 01:05 AM
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For me, 小さいつ wasn't hard for me to master. Probably because I speak Arabic (アラビア語). You see, in Arabic they have this thing called "Shaddah" (شدة) which literally means "hardness", or at least that is the easiest way I can translate it. It's function is the same as 小さいつ. To make the next consonant a double consonant.

Andu
November 30th, 2020 at 06:20 AM
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Hi there! I have a little question about the u-Sound with consonants. So one thing I've learned long before even deciding to learn Japanese is that sometimes the u-Sound is silent in certain consonants. The first time I've come upon this was with the name Natsuki, which apparently is pronounced as Nats'ki. Now that I've gone through a few audio lessons, I noticed that this happens very often, not only with "tsu". Is there a rule on when to pronounce the sound and when not? And also, I assume even with the sound omitted, it should still be the same length as the other syllables. Is that correct?

JapanesePod101.com Verified
October 22nd, 2019 at 05:17 AM
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Dear Ali and Mike,


Thank you for your messages! ❤️️ We hope you enjoy learning Japanese with us!

Please let us know if you have any questions.


Cheers,

Levente

Team JapanesePod101.com

Mike
October 21st, 2019 at 10:08 AM
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👍

Ali
August 15th, 2019 at 05:16 AM
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This sounds like the Glottal Stop in some English pronunciations/accents.

Butter can be pronunced in English = /bu'a/

JapanesePod101.com Verified
January 1st, 2019 at 05:30 AM
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Hi Jess Ackerman,


Thanks for studying Japanese with us and leaving a comment.

Yes, small tsu is written smaller than other kana.


Sincerely,

Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com