User:Retropunk/Japanese Junk Page

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Overview[edit | edit source]

ひらがな (hiragana) is mostly used for native Japanese words and writing. The syllabary contains 5 vowels, 14 simple consonants, and 12 "compound" consonants.

Voiced and Plosive[edit | edit source]

The dakuten (濁点 turbid sound) symbol, ゛, which looks like two slash marks from the left to right just at the top-right-hand corner of a syllabary indicate that the preceding consonant is voiced. This symbol is also known as 点々(てんてん) tenten, meaning "two marks."

The handakuten (半濁点 half turbid sound) symbol, ゜, which looks like a circle located to the top-right-hand corner of a syllabary indicates the preceding consonant is plosive.

Chōon (長音)[edit | edit source]

The Chōon is a long vowel of two moras in length.

One can extend the vowel sound of a kana by affixing either a あ、い、or う depending on the vowel. The vowel would be extended for one more mora or beat. In most cases, あ follows あ; い follows い or え and う follows う or お.

There are rare exceptions where an え vowel is extended by adding え or an お vowel is extended by お. Some examples of this include おねえさん (oneesan), おおい, and おおきい (ookii).

One giveaway to an English-speaking accent in Japanese speech is the use of a diphthong for the elongated "e" sound (Such as the sound in "Eight"). In actuality, "えい" is pronounced correctly by saying the え kana for a longer duration of time.

It is important to make sure you hold the vowel sound long enough because you can be saying "middle-aged lady" (おばさん)(obasan) instead of "grandmother" (おばあさん)(ob'aa'san) if you do not stretch it out correctly.

The sokuon (促音)[edit | edit source]

By adding a small tsu っ in front of a syllable, it causes the subsequent consonant to double. This is called the 促音 (sokuon). This kana results in a having a slight pause between the double consonants.

The sokuon cannot appear at the beginning of a word, before a vowel kana (a, i, u, e, or o), or before kana containing the consonants n, m, r, w, or y. In addition, it does not appear before voiced consonants (g, z, d, or b), or before h, except in loanwords.

Yōon (拗音)[edit | edit source]

Certain sounds ending with -い, き, し, ち, に, ひ, み, and り (including their voiced variants) can be followed by small versions of the hiragana や, ゆ, and よ. In this case, the two hiragana are not pronounced individually, but rather as one sound.

In most cases, the compound sound is the consonant of the base syllable followed by the modifier (fjord may be an example of a similar compound sound in English):

きゃ (kya)
きゅ (kyu)
きょ (kyo)

In other cases the y sound disappears entirely:

しゃ (sha)
しゅ (shu)
しょ (sho)

Hiragana Lessons[edit | edit source]

Each of the following includes hiragana by order of a typical kana chart. Each lesson will has examples used in hiragana, its approximate pronunciation in English, a mnemonic, and the stroke order of the kana.