Japanese from Scratch 1.1.5 – h/m sounds

If you’re new to this series, check out my previous posts under the “Japanese from Scratch” category.

In this lesson, we learn how to read and write the /h/ and /m/ consonant sounds in Hiragana.

Sounds to watch for

Most of the sounds in this section are exactly how you would expect except for 「ふ」, which is a weird sound somewhere between “who” and “fu”. Basically, your mouth when pronouncing “who” (as in “Doctor Who”) is an open circle while “fu” (as in “kung fu”) is completely closed with your top teeth touching your bottom lip. However, 「ふ」 lies directly in between the two sounds almost as if you’re trying to pronounce both at the same time. In practice, probably nobody will really notice anything wrong if you pronounce it as just “fu”. Incidentally, this is the sound for words like “Fuji” and “futon” so obviously we hear it as “fu” and not “hu”.

Reading Practice

Here’s a list of other vocab you should read over for some simple reading practice. Once again, don’t worry about memorizing the definitions.

  1. ふく – clothes
  2. はこ – box
  3. ほし – star
  4. ふた – lid
  5. へい – soldier
  6. ひく – to pull
  7. ふえ – flute
  8. へた – unskillful
  9. め – eye
  10. うみ – sea
  11. のむ – to drink
  12. きもの – kimono
  13. いま – now
  14. まめ – bean
  15. みみ – ear
  16. かも – duck

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