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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!

23 Comments

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JapanesePod101.comVerified
May 9th, 2014 at 6:30 pm
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Please, write a word that uses this Silent Japanese Tsu. Let's practice!

JapanesePod101.comVerified
October 22nd, 2019 at 5:17 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 5:16 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.comVerified
January 1st, 2019 at 5:30 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

Jess Ackerman
December 30th, 2018 at 7:20 am
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Are you to draw the 'tsu' smaller than the other kana 😁

JapanesePod101.comVerified
May 19th, 2017 at 3:32 pm
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Eric-san,

konnichiwa!

I'm very sorry for the super late reply!!! :disappointed:


In case of double M, it's not the small 'tsu'. It's 'n'.

However, in a sense, yes, you're right. Small pause is what small 'tsu' means, but without

closing mouth. Imagine the word 'pizza'. That's exactly what it is. :wink:


Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

Eric
March 28th, 2017 at 9:02 pm
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When I say "Mamma" I mean one the English words for Mother. I meant that I imagine a baby trying to say the English word Mamma, i.e Mother, Mom, Mum, Mummy, Mamma. And when a baby says Mamma, it does sound (to me at least) like there is a short pause in the middle of the word, as in: "Ma...ma". Is that not how the small Tsu is supposed to sound?

JapanesePod101.comVerified
March 27th, 2017 at 9:30 pm
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> Savannah さん、

こんにちは。Sorry for the super late reply!! :disappointed:

I'm glad to know you're enjoying our lessons. :innocent:


> Eric Winkler san,

konnichiwa!

That's a very interesting way! :laughing::thumbsup:

But please be careful; the word 'mamma' doesn't take this small 'tsu' because it will take 'n' instead.

I think it's safer if you focus on the fact we put a short pause, hold a breath etc.

I often use the example of the word 'pizza' in Italian/English. Italian pronunciation for double

consonants are just like our small tsu except for double M or N.


Natsuko (奈津子),

Team JapanesePod101.com

Eric Winkler
March 18th, 2017 at 4:29 am
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So I've been trying to come up with an easy way to explain this Small Tsu, and here's what I've come up with...


I imagine that the small tsu is a baby's mouth, and he's trying to say the Japanese word exactly like he would say: mamma. One single word that comes out in 2 pieces that are JOINED together: Mam-ma. Kak-ko. Kit-te. Etc.


What do you think?

Savannah
December 20th, 2016 at 1:50 pm
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Finally, next video is pitch accent! The bane of my existence, not because it's hard, but because no one teaches it! I hope there'll be a lot of good info there!