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Japanese Vowels: What They Are + How To Pronounce Them

Speaking Japanese as a second language is an interesting way to learn other culture understandings or impress your friends speaking a millenary tongue. However, Japanese, as any other Asian tongue, is quite difficult and a little bit different. People who want to speak Japanese (日本語) properly need to understand that the learning process is very exigent and requires a lot patience and perseverance from the student.

The Japanese vowels have a special characteristic; they are pure and their pronunciation is quite simple and basic. In addition, there are plenty of monophthongs and allophones in the Japanese vocabulary. In order to provide useful information, here is a list of the most important Japanese vowels with possible approximations in English dialects.

First, the more or less invariable sounds:

  • A is pronounced as in "Fantastic"
  • I is pronounced as in "Peek"
  • U is pronounced as in "Bull"
  • E is pronounced as in "End"
  • O is pronounced as in "Go"

Event though, the pronunciation of the vowels sounds is pretty important, Learners need to assimilate the complex Japanese writing properly. There are 4 main alphabets in Japanese language that learners need to understand in order to have a good command of the language. We can find the Hiragana (ひらがな), katakana (カタカナ), Kanji (漢字) and the Romanji.

Here is a list, of the vowels in Hiragana alphabet and their equivalences in English words.

  • /あ/ (a) as in fabulous
  • /い/ (i) as in Greek
  • /う/ (u) as in Tube
  • /え/ (e) as in Cake
  • /お/ (o) as in Open

Author: Ichika
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