Konnichiwa minnasan, and here is the first lesson.
Since this is the first lesson, I feel it is best that we begin
with learning the proper pronounciation, as without that no-one
will understand you (no that is not a good thing ^_^). In Japanese
vowels are more like those of Spanish than English, so if you
know Spanish it can help you here. This chart will help illustrate
the equivalent English pronounciations for the rest of us ^_~:
|as in father
|as in Pete
||imi (ee-mee) meaning
|as in food
||uma (oo-mah) horse
|as in make
||ebi (eh-bee) shrimp
|as in tote
||mamoru (mah-moh-roo) protect ^_^
Japanese vowels can be either long or short, and
the length can mean a difference in meaning. Compare for instance
obaasan (grandmother) with obasan (aunt), where
a failure to lengthen the a would result in a diffrent
word. In writing, the symbol u is used to lenghten both
the o and the u such as in the word kuukou
(airport) where both the o and the u are lengthened
by the use of the u. While a lot of systems use a macron(a bar
over the letter) to illustarate that you should lengthen the vowel,
we'll just double it (or as in the case of the o where
ou will indicate that it should be lengthened).
- When two vowels follow each other they are
rponounced as the sum of ther parts i.e. ai (love) is
pronounced like "eye" in English, except that the
vowel sounds are kept short.
- The vowels i and u often aren't
pronounced, or are reduced to a whisper. This usually occures
when they are preceded by voiceless consonants (p, t, k,
ch, f, h, s, and sh). For example: desu sounds
like "des" and suki (like) is "ski".
The Japanese consonants generally sound like their
english counterparts, except for a few exceptions (now where would
teachers be without those, eh?^_^).
- The Japanese r is pronounced with the tip of your tounge
touching the ridge behind the upper teeth, it resmbles the Spanish
r, except without the trill.
- There is no real "l" sound in Japanese, and since
there is no way to write it in the Japanese alphabets, when
foreign words are romanized the l is converted into an
r. This does not however mean that any Japanese word
containing an r can be pronounced with an l. So
Haruka, can not be pronounced as Haluka (yes some people have
made such a mistake before ^_^ ).
- The f in Japanese is pronounced like the English "h,"
but with more air flowing (pretend you are about to whistle)
- The g is allways pronounced as in go, and never
as in age.
- The s is allways hissed as in so, and never
voiced as in his.
- In some words the consonants are doubled (kk, ss, tt, dd,
pp) in words such as irasshai (welcome), chotto
(a little), and happyaku (800). the consonants
are doubled. You should pronounce them like the double consonants
that occur in English over a word boundary in "rat tail",
"good day"or "ripe plum".
As with vowels, failure to double a consonant will change the
meaning of a word, such as kitte kudasai (please
cut it) and kite kudasai (please come here). In
writing hiragana a small character "tsu"is
placed before a consonant to illustrate that it should be doubled.
Well this concludes our lesson for this week (don't
worry, the rest won't be as boring, but we needed to get this
out of the way first). I hope you will remember something from
it ^_^. Please tell me what you want to see next week: the number
system, grammar, or writing, or something else entirelly. (just
post it on the board ^_^).