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Things Japanese/Note on the Pronunciation of Japanese Words

NOTE ON THE PRONUNCIATION OF JAPANESE WORDS.

 

Sound the vowels and diphthongs as in Italian, that is (approximately),

a as in "father."
e"men."
i"police."
o"for."

u as in "bush."
ai as the "y" of "my."
ei as the "ay" of "may."
au as the "ow" of "cow."

Distinguish long vowels from short, as in Latin; thus tori, "bird" but tōri, "street;" zutsu, "[one, etc.] at a time," but zutsū, "headache."

Sound the consonants as in English, noting only that g never has the "j" sound. At the beginning of a word it is pronounced as in "give" in the middle it has the sound of English ng. Note, too, that z before "u" is pronounced as dz, thus Kōzu (kō-dzu).

Consonants written double are distinctly pronounced double, as in Italian. Thus amma, "a shampooer" sounds quite different from ama, "a nun." (Compare such English words as "oneness," "shot-tower.")

There is little if any tonic accent, all syllables, except such as have long quantity, being pronounced evenly and lightly, as in French. For instance, the word ama given above sounds almost exactly like the French word "amas," and would not be understood if pronounced like English "armour."