Japanese from Scratch 1.1.6 – y/w sounds

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

In this lesson, we will learn how to read and write the remaining Hiragana characters.

Sounds to watch for

The /r/ sound is notoriously difficult for English speakers. It is a hard sound between “r” and “l”. You want to make sure that you flick your tongue against the roof of your mouth, similar to how Spanish speakers roll their r’s.

The last few sounds don’t really follow the convention that we’re used to. There is no “yi”, “ye”, “wi”, “wu”, or “we” sounds.* And while 「を」 technically is a “wo” sound, it sounds exactly the same as “o” (お) in practice. As you’ll later learn, 「を」 is only used for grammatical purposes and not as part of regular words. Therefore, it will not show up in the reading practice below.

Finally, as the only consonant-only sound, 「ん」 is an curious anomaly. It comes after another sound to add a “n” or “m” consonant sound. I find that if you always pronounce it as “n”, nobody really notices the difference.

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. そら – sky
  2. やま – mountain
  3. しろ – white
  4. ゆき – snow
  5. よる – night
  6. りす – squirrel
  7. おふろ – bath
  8. わたし – me, myself, I
  9. さん – three
  10. よん – four
  11. ふとん – futon
  12. ゆめ – dream
  13. みらい – future
  14. むり – impossible
  15. みる – to see
  16. れんこん – lotus root (used in Japanese cooking)

Congratulations, you’ve learned all of Hiragana! We’re almost done with all the sounds in Japanese. Review the complete Hiragana chart here.
My Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/taekimjapanese

*Classical Japanese does have “wi” (ゐ) and “we” (ゑ) but they are no longer used.

7 thoughts on “Japanese from Scratch 1.1.6 – y/w sounds

  1. Here’s a method for learning to pronounce that /r/ sound, assuming you speak a standard American English dialect: http://www.xamuel.com/water-method/ Basically, capitalize on the fact that we (in America) prounounce the “t” in “water” with an alveolar tap. Thus you can use “water” as training wheels, morphing it into simple Japanese r-words as illustrated by the audio files in that link.

  2. You guys are great! I tried some years before to learn japanese by my computer but it was like hell… But with your methods and way to teach it’s peace of cake.

    I’m not even english. I’m greek, and for me the pronunciation is so easy because greeks have almost the same pronunciation as japanese.

    As we say in greek:
    Σας είμαι ευγνώμων – I am greatful to you

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