Japanese from Scratch 1.1.7 – Voiced sounds in Hiragana

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

So actually, while we learned all the Hiragana characters, there’s still more sounds to be learned using the same Hiragana characters we’ve already learned. In this lesson, we’re going to be learning the voiced consonants, which are indicated by two small lines or circle (only for /p/ sounds) in the upper-right of the character. There are five voiced consonant sounds: /g/, /z/, /d/, /b/, and /p/.

On computers or other digital displays, a small font can make it hard to distinguish between the lines and small circle (ex: 「ば/ぱ」) so make sure to increase the font if you’re having trouble seeing the circle. You can easily do this in your browser by using the “Zoom” functionality in the “View” menu.

Sounds to watch for

Learning to read and write these sounds is not very hard since you’ve already learned the characters. The pronunciations are pretty much what you would expect except for: 「じ」 and 「ぢ」. Both are pronounced “ji”. 「ぢ」 is very rarely used and normally only in voiced Kanji readings which we will learn about later so you’ll see 「じ」 more often than not for “ji”. 「づ」 is also usually only used as a voiced Kanji reading of 「つ」. It sounds almost identical to 「ず」 except for a slight press of the tongue to the roof of your mouth for a faint “d” sound at the beginning. It should sound like “dzu”.

Reading Practice

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

  1. ご – five
  2. ふじさん – Mt. Fuji
  3. はなぢ – nosebleed
  4. ひづけ – (calendar) date
  5. にぎりずし – nigiri sushi
  6. びじん – beautiful person
  7. ともだち – friend
  8. ざぶとん – cushion
  9. ぱん – bread
  10. じかん – time
  11. おんど – temperature
  12. つぎ – next
  13. かばん – bag
  14. おんがく – music
  15. ぴあの – piano
  16. うで – arm
  17. おび – belt
  18. かぐ – furniture
  19. ちず – map
  20. ぷりん – pudding
  21. かぞく – family
  22. みず – water
  23. おぺら – opera
  24. かぜ – wind
  25. かげ – shadow
  26. ぼく – me;myself;I (masculine)
  27. いべんと – event
  28. ばれんたいん – valentine
  29. ぽけもん – Pokemon

Also check out my page on Hiragana.
My Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/taekimjapanese

14 thoughts on “Japanese from Scratch 1.1.7 – Voiced sounds in Hiragana

  1. Technically, /p/ is not a voiced sound.
    /p/ is unvoiced and /b/ is its voiced counterpart. I don’t know what is its relation with /h/, since /h/ is not pronounced with the lips. I guess the key is in the ふ /ɸu/ syllable.

  2. It seems like no new comment has been posted ever since the big earthquake.
    I don’t know where you live Mr. Kim or whether you already posted on this matter, but I hope you’re alright.

  3. As アノニマス said: I hope too that you are allright Kim.

    Anyways, I’m very glad that I’m from a spanish speaking country: here you know exactly how a word is pronounced and how it sounds just by reading it, and that is the same case of Japanese. Not only that, but the romanization of the hiragana/katakana corresponds to the exact pronunctiation in spanish! Que viva el español, jejeje :D

  4. I just noticed that it says “ふじさん – friend” in the reading practice section.
    I think it should be either “ふじさん – Mt. Fuji” or “ともだち – friend”

  5. About づ, ず, dz and z sounds: It certainly would make sense if they’d be pronounced as you said, since “dzu” would simply be the voiced version つ. However in practice it doesn’t necessarily work like that, づ is often, probably most of the time I’d say, pronounced just “zu”. On the other hand ざ、ず、ぜ、ぞ、can also be pronounced as dza, dzu, dze, dzo. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone pronounce 全然 actually as “zenzen”, it’s always been “dzendzen”. On the other hand つづく is usually pronounced simply tsuzuku. めずらしい usually mezurashii but I’ve heard medzurashii as well. In my experience the sound romanized as “z” is pronounced always as dz as the first sound of the word, elsewhere usually pronounced z but dz is also possible. Which variant to use has nothing to do with how it is written in kana.

    The same applies to “j” sound as well I think. It has two variants: simply voiced sh sound (resembling the “s” in the English word “Asia”) or d + voiced sh sound (pretty much the same as english j). As in “z” sound, the latter variant is mostly (but not exclusively) used as the first sound of the word (like 人生 “dzhinsei”), the former is only heard in the middle of a word (数字 “suuzhi”). And again, nothing to do with what kana is used to write these.

  6. Pingback: Starting out Learning Japanese. - Page 2

  7. Thank you for all these lessons.. I find them very helpful. But I’m confused about something. When we write “ばれんたいん – valentine” why don’t we use katakana? It’s a foreign word originated from english. Isn’t it?

    • Hi, i have a question! (love the website btw!)

      Are katakana only used for words that are not origanaly japanese? For instance, if i were to write a sentence like: I am going to celebrate Christmas, it would seem to me that only the word “Christmas” would be written in katakana. Is this a correct?

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