Vocabulary (Review)

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Lesson Transcript

This is the last Hiragana lesson before our review. If you see anything you don’t understand, check out one of the last 11 lessons to get caught up.
We will cover two concepts in this lesson, the small つ(tsu) and combined sounds. Do you know the Japanese word for ticket? It’s きっぷ(kippu). How would you spell that in Hiragana? You may think to just write きぷ(kipu) but listen carefully, きっぷ(kippu). After the first character, the beginning of the second character is held for short time. It sounds like you are holding your breath for a split second. きっぷ(kippu)
There are a lot of words in Japanese like this ざっし(zasshi), かっぱ(kappa), きって(kitte). How would you write that short pause in Hiragana? It’s actually very easy. Remember つ(tsu)? All you have to do is write a small つ(tsu) between the two characters. So to write きっぷ(kippu), we would write き(ki), small つ(tsu), ぷ(pu). Let’s look at a few words in Japanese that feature the small つ(tsu).
きって(kitte), “Stamp”
ざっし(zasshi), “Magazine”
りっぱ(rippa), ”Splendid”
Listen carefully to the words in here. The small つ(tsu) can be difficult to catch out first but keep listening and it will soon become easier. Our last Hiragana concept is combined sounds. How would you write the name of the largest city in Japan? とうきょう(Tōkyō). It starts out easy.
と(to), う(u) but then what? きょ(kyo)? We need to learn how to write this new sound. The trick to form these sounds in Hiragana is also pretty simple. Take the consonant sound “K”, and use the character in the い row. So for “きょう(kyō)”, we would use き(ki). Then we need the character for よ(yo) but it needs to be small. Add one more う(u), and we have とうきょう(Tōkyō). This trick works with any character in the い row and the small character can either be よ(yo), ゆ(yu) or や(ya). Let’s take a look at all the possible combinations.
As you can see, there are 11 consonant characters in the い(i) row and combined with よ(yo), ゆ(yu) or や(ya) it makes 33 possible sounds. Now let’s use these sounds in some words.
りょう(ryō) “Amount”
じしょ(jisho) “Dictionary”
はっぴゃく(happyaku), ”Eight hundred”
ぎゅうにゅう(gyūnyū), “Milk”
Now you try writing. I will say a word and you write it in Hiragana.
やっと(yatto). Once more. やっと(yatto). This means “finally”. It wasn’t やと(yato). There was a small つ(tsu) sound in the middle. So you write や(ya), small つ(tsu), と(to). Let’s try one more. いっしゅうかん(i-shhūkan). Once more. いっしゅうかん(i-shhūkan). This means “one week”. This word uses both the small つ(tsu) and the small ゆ(yu). The small つ(tsu) comes after the い(i) where you hold your breath for a split second. The small ゆ(yu) comes after the し(shi) which creates the しゅ(shu) sound. Then add the rest and you get いっしゅうかん(i-shhūkan).
Did you get it? You’ve now learned all there is to know about Hiragana. Try to avoid Romaji from now on and read as much Hiragana as you can. The more you see these characters, the faster you will be able to read them.
Now it’s time for Chihiro’s tip. The reason people sometimes say that Japanese pronunciation is easy is because it is. You’ve just learned every sound used in the language. If you can pronounce the characters by themselves, it doesn’t change when they are in the middle of a word. Try to find a really long word in your Japanese dictionary and pronounce it.
Now that you’ve learned the Hiragana, it’s surprisingly easy, isn’t it? In the next lesson, we will go out in the real world and read some Hiragana you will see in Japanese daily life. See you next time.