Post Reply Japanese Pronunciation Guidelines:
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Posted 11/5/08 , edited 11/6/08
Japanese Pronunciation Guidelines:

Japanese is a fairly mono-tone language in that they do not accent specific syllables.
Each syllable is pronounced with the same emphasis.
For example, most of us Americans learned to pronounce Hiroshima as "he-ro-SHEE-mah".
Sound out the words one sy-la-ble at a time (like: he-rō-shih-mah) with even emphasis on each syllable.

You may use a rise in pitch, as in asking a question -vs- making a statement.

f there are two vowels together, just hold the first one twice as long. It is not necessary to pronounce each one as a separate syllable ( i.e., bareriina is bah-reh-ree..nah = ballerina, or iie is ee...ay = no)

Do not mesh syllables together as we do in America.

For example: the "ng" in Nihongo is not pronounced like song or wrong... it is Nee-hŏn-gō

“g” is always a hard “g”, never a “j” sound

The letter "T" is pronounced sharply, no matter where it is in a word, not flattened like a "d".

For example: if we see "motto" (more), we may think of the English word that is spelled the same and pronounce it with the syllables run together and the "t" flattened. (i.e. "Live for today, that's my motto".)

But you would be more accurate if you sound out each syllable separately, with a sharp "t" sound. [ mōt-tō ]

If you are thinking in English and you see the word "ashita" (tomorrow) you may be tempted to pronounce it like


Try it one syllable at a time with no accents: "ah-shih-tah"

Some Americans drive a “Toy-YŌDA” (Toyota). Try “tō-yō-tah”.

The word "wakarimasen" (I don't understand) is wah-kah-ree-mah-sĕn.

- Don't be tempted to say "-mâssәn", it is "-mah-sĕn".

Once we get the pronunciation…. We may need to learn to listen “fast”… because the Japanese people speak very quickly. Sometimes it seems as if some vowels or syllables disappear or get lost when they speak.

“Do itashimashite” (you’re welcome, don’t mention it) is: dō ih-tah-shih-mah-shih-teh .

When pronounced quickly, it almost sounds like: doy tosh mosh tay

“f” at the beginning of a word sounds more like an “h”. Do not touch your teeth to your lower lip on “f”.

The Japanese "r" is pronounced with a slight trill. It sounds more like an English "d" than an "r"

- English name Kelley = keri and sounds like “keddy”, rather than “kerry”

"L" is not in the Japanese vocabulary. Replace with an "r" sound.

(i.e. London = "Rondon" , Williams = sounds like Wirriams - spelled "Uiriamuzu" )


long " ī " pronounced like Eng. long "e" - like the “i” in "machine" or “unique”

short "i" pronounced like Eng. "ink"

long "ē" is pronounced like Eng. long "a" - like the “e” in "crepe"

short "e" is pronounced like Eng. "red"

long "ā" is pronounced like Eng. "park"

short "a" is pronounced like Eng. "abba father"

long "ō" is pronounced like Eng. "bowl"

short "o" is pronounced like Eng. "most"

long "ū" is "oo" like in "Luke" - (Do not round or ‘pucker’ your lips when pronouncing the “u”.)

short "u" is "oo" like in "look" - (Keep lips relaxed)

If you see a word written in Romaji with long vowels marked (long means elongated), such as: Obāsan,
then, pronounce it specifically with a “long a” and hold it for two counts, like: Obaa-san

Is this important? Yes, obasan = aunt or middle-aged woman, while obāsan = grandmother or elderly woman

"desu" is pronounced like "dess", the "u" is silent. It is a "be" verb, like "is", "are", "am"
Verbs are always at the end of a sentence.

Watashi no-namae wa Jimu desu. = My name Jim is.

"ka" at the end of a sentence makes it a question.

- Anata no o-namae wa nan desu ka = Your name what is ?

- Use a rise in your voice at the end to sound like a question instead of a statement

-masu added to the end of a word or sentence is pronounced without the "u"

( -masu = mas, -shimasu = -shimas )

Tokyo is 2 syllables, not 3. ( "To-kyo" , not "To-kee-yo" ) (Capital City of Japan today)

***Add "no" to a noun or pronoun to make it possessive

***Add "-tachi" to a word to make it plural

watashi wa = I

watashi no wa = my (posessive)

watashi-tachi wa = we (plural)

watashi-tachi no wa = our (posessive)

anata wa = you (singular)

anata no wa = your

anata-tachi wa = you (plural)

anata-tachi no wa = your (possessive)

konojo wa = she

konojo no = her (possessive)

kare = he

kare no = his (posessive)

kore = this (like: this is good)

kono = this/these specific object (like: this coffee is good)

sore = that (like: that is good)

sono = that specific thing (like: that coffee is good)

hito = person (singular)

hito-tachi = people (plural)

3593 cr points
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F / Yes that is the b...
Posted 2/8/09 , edited 2/9/09
Thank you ^_^ It helps me a lot
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F / SakuraBlossoms
Posted 3/8/10 , edited 3/8/10
Adding, if I may...

And the "n" is before a m, p or b becomes "m" in pronounciation.. so "senpai" is spelled with an "n" but it is pronounced as "sempai" or "sanpo" is pronounced as "sampo"

If the "n" is followed by a vowel or is at the end of a word, the vowel before it is long and nasalized. Like "hon".. if it's pronounced, it seems like it was being pronounced through the nose.

If the "n" is followed by k or g, the "n" is then pronounced as "ng"... like "manga".
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