a B-speaker), that speaker will never have [ɣ] as an allophone in that same word. Standard Japanese has only 15 distinct consonants and 5 vowels.  In the analysis with archiphonemes, geminate consonants are the realization of the sequences /Nn/, /Nm/ and sequences of /Q/ followed by a voiceless obstruent, though some words are written with geminate voiced obstruents. Consonants and vowels are not freely combinable as in English, see table on the right for all possible syllables and note irregularities like し shi or ふ fu. The consonant phonemes are listed below. In Part 2, we’ll cover the derived sounds and romanization. The syllable structure is simple, generally with the vowel sound preceded by one of approximately 15 consonant sounds. , Generally, devoicing does not occur in a consecutive manner:, This devoicing is not restricted to only fast speech, though consecutive voicing may occur in fast speech. The ‘ma’ gyou contains no irregular pronunciations: ma, mi, mu, me, mo. Vowels: 5. * Technically, ‘u’ should also be compressed (bringing the corners of the mouth in a bit without letting the the lips protrude), but this is not nearly as important as avoiding the rounding. The sounds in the Japanese alphabet are one thing that makes Japanese easier for English speakers to learn than for Japanese speakers to … ... Miyako in Japan is similar, with /f̩ks̩/ 'to build' and /ps̩ks̩/ 'to pull'. Vowels: 5. The ‘ya’ gyou contains only three syllables: ya, yu, and yo. In any case, it undergoes a variety of assimilatory processes. This is an example of a phonological process call palatalization (moving the middle of the tongue closer to the hard palate), and in modern Japanese, し is always pronounced ‘shi’. Last time we discussed this, it was pointed out that for many English speakers, the repeated consonant isn't geminated, but is lengthened or has the first one replaced with a glottal stop. Fortunately, these words are not difficultfor us to pronounce.  This can be seen with suffixation that would otherwise feature voiced geminates. In other words, Japanese only distinguishes between 20 basic sounds. Before the moraic nasal /N/, vowels are heavily nasalized: At the beginning and end of utterances, Japanese vowels may be preceded and followed by a glottal stop [ʔ], respectively. Japanese Grammar – Pronouncing Vowels and Consonants: In this lesson, we will learn how to pronounce Japanese vowels and consonants. Before and ‘m’, ‘b’, or ‘p’, it’s pronounced as an ‘m’, before a ‘k’ or a ‘g’ in becomes an ‘ng’ sound like in English “sing”, and it’s pronounced as ‘n’ before ‘t’, ‘d’, and ‘n’. Consonants and vowels are not freely combinable as in English, see table on the right for all possible syllables and note irregularities like し shi or ふ fu. [ɸaito] faito ファイト 'fight'; [ɸjɯː(d)ʑoɴ] fyūjon フュージョン 'fusion'; [t͡saitoɡaisɯto] tsaitogaisuto ツァイトガイスト 'Zeitgeist'; [eɾit͡siɴ] eritsin エリツィン 'Yeltsin'), [ɸ] and [h] are distinguished before vowels except [ɯ] (e.g. The one thing I don’t actually cover on this page is how to write the characters, that is, stroke order, but googling “hiragana stroke order” will yield plenty of animations showing you how to write the characters. For me, "I like cats" is /aI laIʔ kæts/. If you’d rather just learn pronunciation for now, see A Guide to Japanese Pronuncation. Sandhi also occurs much less often in renjō (連声), where, most commonly, a terminal /N/ or /Q/ on one morpheme results in /n/ (or /m/ when derived from historical m) or /t̚/ respectively being added to the start of a following morpheme beginning with a vowel or semivowel, as in ten + ō → tennō (天皇: てん + おう → てんのう). Some dialects retain the distinctions between /zi/ and /di/ and between /zu/ and /du/, while others retain only /zu/ and /du/ but not /zi/ and /di/, or merge all four (see Yotsugana). Japanese words have traditionally been analysed as composed of moras; a distinct concept from that of syllables. This is also why there are only “double consonants” and no other consonant diphthongs in Japanese. , In the late 20th century, voiced geminates began to appear in loanwords, though they are marked and have a high tendency to devoicing. Unless otherwise noted, the following describes the standard variety of Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect. More extreme examples follow: In many dialects, the close vowels /i/ and /u/ become voiceless when placed between two voiceless consonants or, unless accented, between a voiceless consonant and a pausa. It’s the moraic (syllabic) nasal sound, usually transcribed as ‘n’, or sometimes as ‘N’ in order to differentiate it from the ‘na’ gyou. Please keep this in mind as we go through the Hiragana chart. Please keep this in mind as we go through the Hiragana chart.  Vowels may be long, and the voiceless consonants /p, t, k, s, n/ may be geminate (doubled). Japanese is often considered a mora-timed language, as each mora tends to be of the same length, though not strictly: geminate consonants and moras with devoiced vowels may be shorter than other moras. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post it in the comments section. This can be seen as an archiphoneme in that it has no underlying place or manner of articulation, and instead manifests as several phonetic realizations depending on context, for example: Another analysis of Japanese dispenses with /Q/. The Japanese began to use the Chinese writing system about 1,400 years ago. The ‘h’ in the Japanese ‘hi’ is another palatalized sound (IPA ‘ç’ vs IPA ‘h’), but the difference in this case is usually minor, and hard to hear since we sort of do it in English too. Korean vowel has 3 shapes – man (a vertical line), earth (a horizontal line) and heaven (a dot). An accented mora is pronounced with a relatively high tone and is followed by a drop in pitch. The Japanese consonants are the ones not shaded or highlighted, which is b, p, m, t, d, z, s, n, ɾ, g, k, h. The symbols in shaded cells are allophones of Japanese consonants, and the highlighted symbols are semi-vowels. You’ll see what appear to be additional consonants as we go through the chart, but in Japanese these are really variant pronunciations of the basic 15. This is an especially important sound to listen to carefully and try to mimic, because the even closest English equivalent is not used in many words. The polite adjective forms (used before the polite copula gozaru (ござる, be) and verb zonjiru (存じる, think, know)) exhibit a one-step or two-step sound change.  Factors such as pitch have negligible influence on mora length.. Introduction to the Japanese Writing System. Double Consonants. Type “ka” + ENTER. Some consonants can be “doubled” as well, though only in the middle of a word; the extra consonant is also a separate mora. UNDERSTANDING LINGUISTICS. English, by contrast has 47 in the initial position of a word, and 169 consonant clusters in the final position of a word (I couldn’t even find a reliable count for middle syllables). Standard Japanese uses100 distinct syllables. This isn't entirely accurate. it is perceived to have the same time value. I have searched the web for a list of phonemes by language, but couldn't find any. ‘Ye’ was lost before the emergence of Kana and the sounds ‘yi’ and ‘wu’ may also have existed long ago. As you might guess, the total number of moras in Japanese is quite limited, about 100 in total. A number of consonant sounds in Hiragana and Katakana can be changed to their voiced counterpart by adding two small dashes to the upper-right corner of the character; namely the “k”, “s”, “t”, and “h” consonant sounds. The origin of the language is mostly unknown, including when it first appeared in Japan. You have to know that Japanese language has a syllabic alphabet but it has a only one consonant. The Japanese for consonant is 子音. Instead, the sound is almost like a nasalized version of the previous vowel. Consonant, any speech sound, such as that represented by t, g, f, or z, that is characterized by an articulation with a closure or narrowing of the vocal tract such that a complete or partial blockage of the flow of air is produced. Each Hiragana character represents one mora (plura moras or morae), the basic unit of sound in Japanese. There are few complex consonant sound combinations such as in the English words strength or Christmas. 日本 MC */nit̚.pu̯ən/ > Japanese /niQ.poN/ [ɲip̚.poɴ]). Phonology: Japanese has 5, pure vowel sounds that may be short or long. In reality, there are a couple of additional consonants, but the variants left out are minor enough that they will not affect your being understood. In modern Japanese, these are arguably separate phonemes, at least for the portion of the population that pronounces them distinctly in English borrowings. Most commonly, a terminal /N/ on one morpheme results in /n/ or /m/ being added to the start of the next morpheme, as in tennō (天皇, emperor), てん ＋ おう > てんのう (ten + ō = tennō). Japanese has a moderate inventory of consonants and only 5 vowels, and most of the sounds exist in English or have a close equivalent. A notable feature of Japanese is that the dental consonants /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/ undergo regular mutations before the front vowels /i/ and /u/. Vowels have a phonemic length contrast (i.e. All of these be explained below. The phonology of Japanese features about 15 consonant phonemes, the cross-linguistically typical five-vowel system of /a, i, u, e, o/, and a relatively simple phonotactic distribution of phonemes allowing few consonant clusters. The various Japanese dialects have different accent patterns, and some exhibit more complex tonic systems. Find more Japanese words at wordhippo.com! This is the second of a 4-part series on Japanese pronunciation. With the solitary exception of "n" (ん・ン), consonants in Japanese are always followed by a vowel to form a syllable. A glide /j/ may precede the vowel in "regular" moras (CjV). Since the Japanese language has very limitted number of vowels and consonants, there appeared to be too many homonyms ( DO-ON-I-GI-GO 同音異義語). In 2003, The Lancet published a study examining a similar hypothesis, suggesting that the limited number of aspirated consonants in Japanese could explain why SARS had not spread in Japan. Share this: Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Standard Japanese speakers can be categorized into 3 groups (A, B, C), which will be explained below. You’ll see what appear to be additional consonants as we go through the chart, but in Japanese these are really variant pronunciations of the basic 15. Rules for double consonants, consonants + y + vowels are the same as those for Hiragana. They arek, s, sh, t, n, h, m, r, g, d, z, b, ts, ch andj. /ɡ/ may be weakened to nasal [ŋ] when it occurs within words—this includes not only between vowels but also between a vowel and a consonant. From here, we can guess that there have to be at least 5 vowels and 9 consonants, assuming that the solo ん and な,に,ぬ,ね, and の use the same /n/. These kinds of combo sounds are call affricates. In cases where this combines with the yotsugana mergers, notably ji, dzi (じ／ぢ) and zu, dzu (ず／づ) in standard Japanese, the resulting spelling is morphophonemic rather than purely phonemic. Basic Sounds. Please note that the handwritten forms of several characters differ from the printed versions in most fonts (さ sa、り ri、ふ fu）. The f often causes gemination when it is joined with another word: Most words exhibiting this change are Sino-Japanese words deriving from Middle Chinese morphemes ending in /t̚/, /k̚/ or /p̚/, which were borrowed on their own into Japanese with a prop vowel after them (e.g.  In this table, the period represents a mora break, rather than the conventional syllable break. Japanese, on the other hand, has only pure vowels. We have ‘ka’ in the ‘a’ dan, ‘ki’ in the ‘i’ dan and so on: ka, ki, ku, ke, ko. This is called Vance (1987) suggests that the variation follows social class, while Akamatsu (1997) suggests that the variation follows age and geographic location. [ɲipːoɴ]), but this notation obscures mora boundaries. There is some dispute about how gemination fits with Japanese phonotactics. Also, both this lesson and its follow-up are fairly long and involved, so you may want to read them in small chunks over the course of a week or so, while memorizing the Hiragana column by column and moving forward with the Beginning Lessons. These words are likely to be romanized as ⟨a'⟩ and ⟨e'⟩. /k/ /s/ /t/ /n/ /h/ /m/ /y/ /r/ /w/ || /a/ /i/ /u/ /e/ /o/ But wait, there’s more! Find more Japanese words at wordhippo.com! Voiced consonants are consonant sounds that require a voice, creating a vibration in your throat. In loanwords, all present-day standard Japanese speakers generally use the stop, B-speakers mentioned directly above consistently use, This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 12:57. , To a lesser extent, /o, a/ may be devoiced with the further requirement that there be two or more adjacent moras containing the same phoneme:, The common sentence-ending copula desu and polite suffix masu are typically pronounced [desɯ̥] and [masɯ̥]. All questions, comments, and corrections are welcome. pp, tt, kk, ss) the first of the pair is always written with a "half size" つ which looks like this: っ. For the remaining わ ‘wa’, the ‘w’ is pronounced using lip compression rather than rounding, like the vowel ‘u’ (IPA ‘ɰᵝ’). Before ‘y’, ‘h’, ‘f’, ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘w’ and all vowels, the pronunciation is somewhat different, since the tongue and lips do not touch anything. In a sense, the ‘i’ after the ‘s’ forces it to become ‘sh’ – you’ll see this in action when we get to verb conjugation, which follows a pattern based on the columns of the chart. Try saying “cats”, then “tsunami”. , The vowel /u/ also affects consonants that it follows:, Although [ɸ] and [t͡s] occur before other vowels in loanwords (e.g. A frequent example is loanwords from English such as bed and dog that, though they end with voiced singletons in English, are geminated (with an epenthetic vowel) when borrowed into Japanese. The first column is the ‘a’ gyou, named after its first member, which contains the lone vowels: a, i, u, e, and o. The Japanese ‘r’ sound is most problematic of the Japanese consonants. Standard Japanese is a pitch-accent language, wherein the position or absence of a pitch drop may determine the meaning of a word: /haꜜsiɡa/ "chopsticks", /hasiꜜɡa/ "bridge", /hasiɡa/ "edge" (see Japanese pitch accent). |tapu| +|ri| > [tappɯɾi] 'a lot of'). , Some speakers produce [n] before /z/, pronouncing them as [nd͡z], while others produce a nasalized vowel before /z/. Most saliently, voiced geminates are prohibited in native Japanese words. The moraic nasal will be covered below. One blurry area is in segments variously called semivowels, semiconsonants, or glides. The Sounds of Language. As you surely noticed, the ‘ya’ gyou (ya, yu, yo) and ‘wa’ gyou (wa, o) each have several gaps. “gyo-o” – I’ll explain this in a bit) and rows are called dan. Except for /u/, the short vowels are similar to their Spanish counterparts. These include: In some cases morphemes have effectively fused and will not be recognizable as being composed of two separate morphemes. Within words and phrases, Japanese allows long sequences of phonetic vowels without intervening consonants, pronounced with hiatus, although the pitch accent and slight rhythm breaks help track the timing when the vowels are identical. A fairly common construction exhibiting these is 「〜をお送りします」 ... (w)o o-okuri-shimasu 'humbly send ...'. Of these, 5 are single vowels, 62 are consonants combined with avowel, and 53 are consona… . The vowel sounds are pronounced: The basic units of the Japanese writing system are syllables. Hangeul or Korean alphabet is made up of consonants and vowels. Phonemic changes are generally reflected in the spelling, while those that are not either indicate informal or dialectal speech which further simplify pronunciation. The other common sandhi in Japanese is conversion of つ or く (tsu, ku), and ち or き (chi, ki), and rarely ふ or ひ (fu, hi) as a trailing consonant to a geminate consonant when not word-final – orthographically, the sokuon っ, as this occurs most often with つ. Katakana will be covered at the very end of the series on writing and pronunciation. Vowel length can differentiate words in Japanese – double length vowels are treated as a a sequence of two moras. Standard Japanese has only 15 distinct consonants and 5 vowels. With a couple exceptions, each mora contains one vowel, and may start with a single consonant or a combination of a consonant followed by a ‘y’. The final Hiragana symbol, ん, also deserves special attention. The Japanese vowels are very close to those in Spanish. The Japanese for consonant is 子音.  Each mora occupies one rhythmic unit, i.e. Both of these sets of sounds are covered in Part 2. Having trouble understanding something? doreddo ~ doretto 'dreadlocks'). Some analyses posit a third "special" mora, /R/, the second part of a long vowel (a chroneme). However, the lack of influence from other languages, in addition Japan's isolation from the rest of the world, has contributed much to the precision of the Japanese phonetic system. This “alphabetic” arrangement is called gojuu-on, meaning “50 sounds”, though the modern table has several gaps as well as an extra symbol off the end, for a total of 46. Because of this, consonants always need to be accompanied by a vowel. Its main influences are Chinese and Old Japanese. Lecture 2. You should definitely print out a Hiragana chart to look at as we go through the basic syllables. **A**. The ‘na’ gyou contains no irregular pronunciations: na, ni, nu, ne, no. And you’ll use these consonants: k, g, s, z, j, t, d, n, h, f, b, p, m, y, r, w. There is also the combined letters ch — the letter “c” is never used on its own. In other words, Japanese only distinguishes between 20 basic sounds. That’s 21 letters in total. The the ‘ch’ and ‘ts’ sounds are made by combining ‘t’ with ‘sh’ to make ‘ch’ and with ‘s’ to make ‘ts’. More modern decades have seen many European influences on the language, especially many English loanwordshaving been adopted into the Japanese phonetic system. In place of ‘ti’ and ‘tu’ we have ‘chi’ and ‘tsu’. For example, Japanese has a suffix, |ri| that contains what Kawahara (2006) calls a "floating mora" that triggers gemination in certain cases (e.g. In the case of the /s/, /z/, and /t/, when followed by /j/, historically, the consonants were palatalized with /j/ merging into a single pronunciation. In Japanese, sandhi is prominently exhibited in rendaku – consonant mutation of the initial consonant of a morpheme from unvoiced to voiced in some contexts when it occurs in the middle of a word. In English, stressed syllables in a word are pronounced louder, longer, and with higher pitch, while unstressed syllables are relatively shorter in duration. short vs. long). It is variously:, Studies in the 2010s have shown, however, that there is considerable variability in the realization of word-final /N/, and that [m], possibly with a double or secondary articulation, is much more common than [ɴ]. top line first. Some analyses make a distinction between a long vowel and a succession of two identical vowels, citing pairs such as 砂糖屋 satōya 'sugar shop' [satoːja] vs. 里親 satooya 'foster parent' [satooja]. Both sounds, however, are in free variation. This can be used with the consonants “p, k, t, s” to create a hard stop. **I**. Sequences of two vowels within a single word are extremely common, occurring at the end of many i-type adjectives, for example, and having three or more vowels in sequence within a word also occurs, as in aoi 'blue/green'. You’ll find print-out Kana charts, flash cards, and other goodies under Hiragana and Katakana resource page. The Japanese "i" and "u" are only silent if they occur between two unvoiced consonants(k, s, sh, t, ch, h, f, p) or at the end of a few certain words. Secondly, the vowel may combine with the preceding vowel, according to historical sound changes; if the resulting new sound is palatalized, meaning yu, yo (ゆ、よ), this combines with the preceding consonant, yielding a palatalized syllable. As we learn about Japan, we learn many words to describe events, ideas, or objectshaving to do with the country and its culture. A phoneme is a sound, or set of similar speech sounds, which are perceived as a single distinctive sound by speakers of the language or dialect in question. There are 24 consonants in English; while there are only 12 consonants in Japanese. Non-coronal voiced stops /b, ɡ/ between vowels may be weakened to fricatives, especially in fast or casual speech: However, /ɡ/ is further complicated by its variant realization as a velar nasal [ŋ]. You can also get away with using an English ‘n’ before the consonants and still be understood, but between vowels you’ll sound like you are using a ‘na’ gyou mora. Like ‘sh’, the Japanese ‘ch’ (IPA ‘tɕ’) is more fully palatalized than the English ‘ch’ (IPA ‘tʃ’), but this is a minor detail. Consonants: 17. • Voiceless stops /p, t, k/ are slightly aspirated: less aspirated than English stops, but more so than Spanish.  However, not all scholars agree that the use of this "moraic obstruent" is the best analysis. Note that the number of moras may or may not match the number of syllables in any given word. , While Japanese features consonant gemination, there are some limitations in what can be geminated. If you feel a vibration the consonant is a voiced one. This is the basis of a syllabary like Hiragana – 46 mora each get a unique character, and the remainder are derived from these. The process of writing Japanese words into English is called romanization(the written words are called roumaji.) FYI, "Look" in Japanese is "mite", not "mitte". This is demonstrated below with the following words (as pronounced in isolation): When an utterance-final word is uttered with emphasis, this glottal stop is plainly audible, and is often indicated in the writing system with a small letter tsu ⟨っ⟩ called a sokuon. Kawahara (2006) attributes this to a less reliable distinction between voiced and voiceless geminates compared to the same distinction in non-geminated consonants, noting that speakers may have difficulty distinguishing them due to the partial devoicing of voiced geminates and their resistance to the weakening process mentioned above, both of which can make them sound like voiceless geminates.. Our first exception to the pattern comes in the very next column, the ‘sa’ gyou. Compare contrasting pairs of words like ojisan /ozisaN/ 'uncle' vs. ojiisan /oziisaN/ 'grandfather', or tsuki /tuki/ 'moon' vs. tsūki /tuuki/ 'airflow'. Because of this, we can tackle pronunciation and writing at the same time. So that. Hard Consonant Sounds. Standard Japanese has only 15 distinct consonants and 5 vowels. 1. a = "ah", between the 'a' in "father" and the one in "dad" 2. i = "ee", as in "feet" 3. u is similar to the "oo" in "boot" but without rounded lips 4. e is similar to "ay", as in "hay", but i… In such an approach, the words above are phonemicized as shown below: Gemination can of course also be transcribed with a length mark (e.g. Columns are called gyou (pron. After all, even today, many people find Chinese and Japanese very difficult to learn because of their complex writing systems. Total number of sounds: 22. Consonants. For example, the "c/k" sounds in cat and kitten represent the English phoneme /k/.. Phonemes are divided in vowels and consonants.There are also semi-consonants like /j/ and /w/, which for practical purposes will be listed as consonants here. Old Japanese is widely believed to have had eight vowels; in addition to the five vowels in modern use, /i, e, a, o, u/, the existence of three additional vowels /ï, ë, ö/ is assumed for Old Japanese. I’ve described it specifically in native Japanese words since foreign loanwords (where the usage differs) has been excellently described already. Your main concern in the ‘ha’ gyou is the ‘f’ in the Japanese ‘fu’ sound (IPA ‘ɸ’), which is made by blowing through unrounded lips, unlike the English ‘f’ which uses the top teeth and bottom lip. This is also why there are only “double consonants” and no other consonant diphthongs in Japanese. It’s not as though they are incapable of it by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that, other than “n”, singular consonants never occur on their own in Japanese. You can think of a mora as a sort of simple syllable. Consonants and semi-vowels are never pronounced independently. ItuPAI = いっぱい. Example of a consonant sound in Japanese. See below for more in-detail descriptions of allophonic variation. These are the voiced consonants: B, D, G, J, L, M, N, Ng, R, Sz, Th (as in the word "then"), V, W, Y, and Z. The neat thing about Kana is how closely it mimics the phonology (sound structure) of the spoken language. There are a lot of combinations of paired syllables in Japanese such as: Hiragana / Katakana. We’ll then finish up with a couple more topics in pronunciation: Pitch Accent and Vowel Devoicing. Technically, the Japanese ‘sh’ (IPA ‘ɕ’) is more fully palatalized than the English ‘sh’ (IPA ‘ʃ’), but for our purposes you can consider them to be equivalent. They are usually identical in normal speech, but when enunciated a distinction may be made with a pause or a glottal stop inserted between two identical vowels.. For example, 「ひと」 … Please send your feedback using the contact form and help me improve this site. As you pronounce a letter, feel the vibration of your vocal cords. Of the allophones of /z/, the affricate [d͡z] is most common, especially at the beginning of utterances and after /N/, while fricative [z] may occur between vowels. Here we have sa, shi, su, se and so rather than ‘si’ as expected. However, many lower-class people didn’t know how to read or write because of the fundamental differences between Korean and Chinese and, of course, because of the large number of Chinese characters. Consonants: 17. The goal is to get familiar with the sounds of Japanese and the IPA symbols. Hiragana and the Japanese Sound System, Part 2 – voiced syllables, combination syllables, doubled vowels and consonants, a couple of spelling rules, and romanization. *Syllables marked have a pronunciation that doesn’t quite follow the overall pattern. , Japanese speakers are usually not even aware of the difference of the voiced and devoiced pair. It’s not really like the English ‘r’ at all, but sounds like something between an ‘l’ and a ‘d’. Korean character is made up of 14 consonants and 10 vowels. Japanese. ** English has several diphthongs (pronounced “diff-thong”), which start as one simple vowel and end as another, a kind of two-in-one combo. Phonology: Japanese has 5, pure vowel sounds that may be short or long. Various forms of sandhi exist; the Japanese term for sandhi generally is ren'on (連音), while sandhi in Japanese specifically is called renjō (連声). Share this: Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) When a double consonant appears in a word, usually only one of the two consonants is sounded (as in "ball" or "summer"). The assimilated /Q/ remains unreleased and thus the geminates are phonetically long consonants. that they must always be acommpanied byone of the five vowels in the latter part of a syllable. a C-speaker), then the velar fricative [ɣ] is always another possible allophone in fast speech. The contrast between /d/ and /z/ is neutralized before /i/ and /u/: [(d)ʑi, (d)zɯ]. Some maintain, however, that Old Japanese had only five vowels and attribute the differences in vowel quality to the preceding consonants. Although every Korean syllable, in the written form, starts with a consonant letter, not every Korean syllable, when pronounced, actually begins with a consonant sound.One of the 14 Korean consonant letters functions, depending on the context, as a "null (soundless) consonant", which merely serves as a space holder to occupy the first position of a syllable. The Japanese pronunciation has difficulty with R’s and L’s, with B’s and V’s…and has absolute horror of consonants not immediately followed by vowels. When you need a better approximation, act as if you were about to make a ‘y’ sound, move the middle part of your tongue up a bit, then say ‘hi’. Consonants inside parentheses are allophones of other phonemes, at least in native words. /N/ is restricted from occurring word-initially, and /Q/ is found only word-medially.