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Lesson Transcript

みなさんこんにちは。(Mina-san konnichiwa).
Hi everyone, I am Chihiro and welcome back to JapanesePod101.com’s Kantan kana. In the last lesson, we learned the Hiragana characters ま(ma), み(mi), む(mu), め(me) and も(mo). If you are not confident about those, be sure to review the last lesson. There are just 11 characters left and we are going to learn three of them today.
Now let’s get started with や(ya). や(ya) is very tricky to get it right. Make the first stroke like this, the second one here, the third stroke comes in on the slight angle like this.
やすみ(yasumi), “vacation”
And はやい(hayai) means “fast”.
Next is ゆ(yu). Start with the straight line, come all the way around like you are drawing a fish, but don’t connect at the end. Then come from straight above the loop, cut it and curve to the left. ゆき(yuki) is the Japanese word for “snow”, and you might see this during ふゆ(fuyu) or winter.
Our last character today is よ(yo). Start with the straight line, then come straight down, do a loop and finish like this.
つよい(tsuyoi) is “strong”
And よこはま(Yokohama) is one of Japan’s largest cities.
If you’ve been paying attention to the last 7 lessons, you may be expecting a “yi” and “ye” sound but those sounds actually don’t exist at all in Japanese.
Okay let’s talk about one more thing today. Do you know the word くつ(kutsu). It means ”shoes”. What about this word? くつう(kutsū), it means “pain”. The difference between くつう(kutsū) and くつ(kutsu) may not sound like much. For くつう(kutsū), we just hold the う(u) sound for twice as long as we do in くつ(kutsu). This う(u) sound is one of the long vowels in Japanese. Japanese has five vowels あ(a), い(i), う(u), え(e) and お(o) and their lengthened versions are ああ(ā), いい(ī), うう(ū), ええ(ē), and おお(ō).
So how do you write おおきい(ōkii) which means “big”? The first sound is お(o) as a long vowel. So when you write this word, you write two お(o)’s in a row. The last い(i) sound is also a long vowel. So you need another い(i) in addition to the い(i) sound in き(ki). So it’s not おき(oki), it’s おおきい(ōkii).
And how about the word こうこう(kōkō) which means “high school”? Can you hear the difference between that and the word for here, “ここ(koko)”. In the case of “こうこう(kōkō)”, what we hear is only the O sound lengthened but when you write this word, you don’t write こおこお(kōkō) but こうこう(kōkō). There are two written versions おお(ō) and おう(ō)…for the sound of お(o) as a long vowel.
For our quiz today, I will say a word and you guess how many characters it takes to write it. Are there any long vowels in it or not.
So how did you do? Pay close attention to long vowels from now on. Japanese pronunciation is pretty easy but the long vowels can trip you up if you are not careful. Now it’s time for Chihiro’s tip. Do you remember my hint from lesson 2? Have you been checking out the Kana transcripts at JapanesePod101’s lessons? I bet you can read a lot more now than you could at lesson 2. Go back and browse the kana transcripts for a lesson or two and you will be amazed at how far you’ve come. Just think, a little more and you will understand the whole thing. Only 8 more Hiragana left and we will learn five of them in the next lesson. See you then.