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0003

ROUTLEDGE LIBRARY EDITIONS: JAPAN
THE PHONETICS OF JAPANESE
LANGUAGE
0003

THE PHONETICS OF
JAPANESE LANGUAGE
With reference to Japanese Script
P.M.SUSKI
Volume 59

LONDON AND NEW YORK
0003

First published in 1931
This edition first published in 2011
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
by Routledge
270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
This edition published in the TaORU )UDQFLVH/LEUDU\.
To purchase RXURZQFRS of this or anRf
TaORU )UDQFLVRU5RXWOHGJHVFROOHFWLRQRIWKRXVDQGVRIH%RRNs
please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 1931 P.M.Suski
All rights reserved. No part of this book maEHUHSULQWHGRUUHSURGXFHGRr
utilised in anIRUPRUE anHOHFWURQLFPHFKDQLFDORURWKHUPHDQVQRw
known or hereafter invented, including photocopLQJDQGUHFRUGLQJRULQDQy
information storage or retrieval sVWHPZLWKRXWSHUPLVVLRQLQZULWLQJIURPWKe
publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 0-203-84180-8 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 13:978-0-415-56498-4 (Set)
eISBN 13:978-0-203-84317-8 (Set)
ISBN 13:978-0-415-59413-4 (Volume 59)
eISBN 13:978-0-203-84180-8 (Volume 59)
Publisher’s Note
The publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the qualitRIWKLVUHSULQWEXt
points out that some imperfections in the original copies may be apparen
t.
Disclaimer
The publisher has made everHIIRUWWRWUDFHFRSright holders and would
welcome correspondence from those theKDYHEHHQXQDEOHWRWUDFH.

THE PHONETICS OF
JAPANESE LANGUAGE
With Reference to Japanese Script
By P.M.SUSKI,
Author of the Dictionary of Kanji
COPYRIGHT 1931
By P.M.SUSKI
All rights reserved
South Pasadena
P.D. and IONE PERKINS
1942

PHONETICS OF JAPANESE LANGUAGE With
Reference to Japanese Script
CONTENTS
Introduction
CHAPTER I How Japan Acquired the Writing 1
CHAPTER II Sounds of Kanji 3
Characters Sounded Alike in Japan and China 8
CHAPTER III Japanese Sounds of Kanji 10
Homophonous Characters 11
Characters Used in Sense Peculiar to Japanese 12
CHAPTER IV Japan-made Characters & Japan-created Sounds 15
Kanji Created in Japan 15
Some Unusual Sounds Peculiar to Japanese 17
Some Difficult Geographical & Personal Names 17
Variation in Characters 19
CHAPTER V Calligraphy 21
CHAPTER VI Japanese Compositions 23
CHAPTER VII Japanese Compounds 27
Japanese Compounds Not Understood by Chinese 27
Meiji Compounds 27
Examples of Meiji Words 28
Summary 28
CHAPTER VIII Phonetic Use of Kanji 30
CHAPTER IX Kana 32
I-ro-ha and Gojuin 36
CHAPTER X ounds of Japanese Speech 39
Japanese Vowels 39
Variation in Japanese Vowels 42
Length of Japanese Vowels 42

vi Contents
CHAPTER XI Japanese Consonants 45
T and D 46
Relation of Z Line to D Line 46
Y is Shorter and Weaker 46
Japanese R 47
Japanese Final N 47
Contracted or Doubled Consonants 48
Combined Consonants 50
Variation in Sounds 50
Variation According to Time 50
Individualism and Provincialism 51
Circumstantial Variations 51
CHAPTER XII Romaji 52
Romanized Kana 53
Japanese System of Romaji 54
CHAPTER XIII Accents and tresses 57
Accents on Syllables 57
Accents on European Languages 58
Importance of Accents 58
Peculiarity of Japanese Accents 59
Elision of Vowels 60
CHAPTER XIV Japanese Orthography 61
Difficulties of Japanese Orthograph 70
CHAPTER XV Early Japanese Sounds 71
Influence of Romaji on ounds 72
General Remarks 73
Errata 74
Glossary 75

INTRODUCTION
The object of this little book is to give true characters of Japanese speech sounds of toda
in reference to European sounds. So far as I know, there have been no attempts ever made
in this direction, that is, to record the exact manner in which Japanese sounds are produced.
No standard set for sounds, it is to be presumed that the qualitRIVRXQGVLVIURPWLPHWR
time drifting from one shade to another.
As the writer once wished to learn how Japanese people used to pronounce when
carrLQJ on a conversation 500, 1000, or 1500 HDUV ago, he was utterl disappointed to
find nothing giving records of sounds heard in those remote ages. Phonographs, which ma
have served these purposes fittinglDUHEXWDQLQYHQWLRQRIDFRQWHPSRUDUy.
Japanese vowel elements are onl 5 in number against—English 18, French 13 and
German 8. Japanese consonants are 15, English 26, French 22, and German 23. Because of
the lesser number of elements, it follows of necessitWKDWWKHZLGHUUDQJHLQYRZHOVDQGWR
some extent in consonants is heard and tolerated b-DSDQHVHHDUV.
This little volume attempts to give average sounds uttered b Japanese of the present
age, in relation to the English sounds of today, as the latter language is rich in works
of phonetics and furthermore is the most widel distributed language of the world. The
English sounds will of course undergo changes in course of time, as it had in past, as an
other living language. But still there will alwaVEHPHDQVWRDVFHUWDLQZKDWDUHWKHVRXQGV
prevalent in 19th or 20th century, in case our descendants in 30th century, for instance,
would trWRVWXG them.
As I take English as a standard of measure for Japanese sounds, and I live in America
where English is spoken, and as there are more students of Japanese language among
English speaking people than anRWKHUDQGILQDOO there are thousands of American born
Japanese who are in need of instruction on true Japanese sounds, this book is written in
English language. Japan studies English perhaps more than any one nation studies any one
foreign language. Therefore this book can easil find place among records in Japanese
libraries.
With the recent perfection of phonographs sQFKURQL]HGZLWKPRYLQJSLFWXUHVNQRZQ
under various names as Vitaphone, phonocinematographHWFQRWHGVSHHFKHVRI-DSDQHVH
would become perpetualized. These would corroberate and contribute to the objects of this
volume to a great extent. But still a sVWHPDWL]HGWUHDWLVHLQWKLVVXEMHFWLVDQHFHVVLW\:KHQ
a bigger and better text-book on this subject would be written b some future scholars, I
would be pleased and satisfied to think this little volume had served as a harbinger .
—P.M.SUSKI.
Los Angeles,
June, 1931.

CHAPTER I
HOW JAPAN ACQUIRED THE WRITING
Whether Japan possessed the art of writing before the introducion of Chinese characters or
ideographic script is a matter of conjecture. Letters said to have been found in certain old
copies are much like, if not identical, to modern Chosenese alphabet. But the fact that no
scripture text had ever been found leads manWRGRXEWWKHDXWKHQWLFLW of such copies.
According to Japanese records, a Korean savant named Wang-in come to Japan during
the 16th HDURIUHLJQRIWKH(PSHURU2KMLQ $' ZLWKERRNVRI&KLQHVHODQJXDJHDQG
taught the Japanese how to read and write Chinese ideographs. Now this date is believed to
be in error bears, which makes it 405 A.D. instead of 285.
At first there seems to have been onlDIHZLQWKH,PSHULDOFRXUWWKDWWRRNXSOHDUQLQJ
of Chinese language, but as HDUV go b the stud of sounds and meaning of Chinese
characters gradually gained ground among the populace. Japanese learners attached to the
Chinese characters the meaning in Japanese language, so that each Chinese character has
been regarded to have, in addition to the proper Chinese sounds, new Japanese sounds
corresponding to the meaning in Japanese.
To illustrate: If England would introduce into the countr a Greek word grapho and
read it in various waVDVJUDSKRWRZULWHZULWLQJWRLQVFULEHVFULSWLQVFULSWLRQHWFVKH
would be doing exactlZKDW-DSDQKDVEHHQDQGLVQRZGRLQJWRWKH&KLQHVHLGHRJUDSKLF
script.
The Chinese characters or ideographic writing which were brought to Japan were from
the work during the Han dQDVW in China. Hence Japanese called them “Kanji” (literall
Han characters). TheZHUHDOVRNQRZQDV+RQML OLWHUDOO real characters) in contrast to
Kana (literall3URYLVLRQDOQDPH .
Some Kanji has two or three different sounds as it had been pronounced in one wa
during one Chinese dQDVW and in another wa during another. Most Kanji again were
used in two or more different senses in China. Japanese had to learn all these, translated
into Japanese. Quite a number of characters, as a result, had to have two or three Chinese
sounds and a dozen or more Japanese waVRIUHDGLQJ.
The Chinese sounds are known as “on” or “in” (literall sound) and the Japanese
sounds are known “kun”, “wakun” or “RPL PHDQLQJRUUHDGLQJ $PRQJWKHIRUPHUDUH
“kan-on” (sounds of Han dQDVW) which are bIDUWKHPRVWSUHYDOHQWJRRQ VRXQGVRI
Wu dQDVW), and later on “Toh-on “(sounds of T‘ang dQDVW), “soh-on” (sounds of Sung
dQDVW), “min-on” (sounds of Ming dQDVW) and “shin-on” (sounds of Ts‘ing dQDVW).
The latter four are acquired b-DSDQHVHLQODWHUSHULRGGXULQJWKHLQWHUFRXUVHZLWK&KLQD
and are limited to onlDIHZFKDUDFWHUV.
The present da&KLQHVHVRXQGVRIFKDUDFWHUVDUHZLGHO different from what the Japanese
are attaching to the same characters. Moreover, the Chinese sounds vary according to localities
in China. The reason why such discrepancies occur are not difficult to understand when we

2 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
learn that China has undergone a great many changes in dynasties often revolutionary, since
Han period when Japanese had been first taught their sounds.
The Han dQDVWLHVODVWHGIURP%&WR$'WKHQFDPHWKUHHNLQJGRPVZKHQ
Minor Han, Wei and Wu divided the countr till 280 A.D., Western Tsin 265–316 A.D.,
Eastern Tsin 317–420 A.D., the division of the north and south dQDVWLHV each division
having four or five courts 386–589 A.D., the reunification of the empire b Sui dQDVW
589–618 A.D., T‘ang dQDVW 618–907 A.D. Five short dQDVWLHV 907–959 A.D., Sung
dQDVWLHVLQFOXGLQJQRUWKDQGVRXWK$'<DQRU0RQJROGnast
A. D., Ming dQDVW 1368–1644 A.D., and Ts‘ing dQDVW 1644–1911 A.D. followed in
succession.
As a result of such frequent changes in dominating powers, the vast Chinese dominion
contains people of widel various origins, different in customs, idioms and sounds of
characters. For example, a character meaning man is pronounced in China toda as jan,
lan, niang, in, jin or DQE the people of Peking, Hankow, Shanghai, Fuhchau, AmoRU
Canton respectively.
The sounds of Chinese characters as taught in Japan at the present time and those
learned b-DSDQHVHears ago from the continental teachers are supposed to be the
same, although we have reasons to suspect that the original Chinese sounds of Han period
are largel lost and are substituted b highl Japanized sounds, which would be entirel
unintelligible to the Chinese ears, should the people of Han period be given opportunities
to hear them.
When a language of one people is learned b another in a large scale, the latter is apt
to modif and adapt it to suit his tongue. This fact is exemplified b Japanized English
produced through the toil of Japanese students under Japanese teachers during the last half
a century.
Shing or tones of Chinese characters never seem to have been acquired b Japanese,
although Japanese poets and a few scholars studDJUHDWGHDODERXWWKHP.
So the characters or ideographs of the original Chinese language, clad with Japan-
modified sounds, some with Japan-created sounds, Japan-invented meanings together with
a number of Japan-made characters, became now to be known as Japanese characters, the
name of “Kanji” (or Han characters) alone remaining to tell the tale.

CHAPTER II
THE SOUNDS OF KANJI
The method of giving pronunciation to a character in Chinese dictionaries, notabl the
“K‘anghi Tsz’tien”, the product during the reign of the Emperor Shêng Tsu Jên (1662–
1723) is bPHDQVRIJLYLQJWZRSRSXODUO known characters, the first of which furnishing
the initial consonant and the seccond giving the vowel and the final consonant if any. This
method is known as Fan Ts‘ieh”.
In Japan, there are several dictionaries of Kanji patterned after “K‘anghi Tsz’tien” of
China. TheLQYDULDEO give sounds and Japanese reading in Kana, and also sounds in Fan
Ts‘ieh. The explanation is also given in classical Chinese.
K‘anghi Tsz’tien contains over 45,000 characters, while some of the Japanese dictionaries
give nearlDVWKH contain all the characters found in K‘anghi Tsz’tien and other
characters from numerous older sources.
When once Kana is mastered, it is a simple matter to get the correct sound of Kanji in
Japanese dictionaries. Older dictionaries give true and correct sounds which are at times
different from the popularl accepted sounds of today. Man later dictionaries however
give the popular sounds also.
While there are nearl 50,000 characters in largest Japanese dictionaries the actual
number of characters ever made use of in Japan maQXPEHUEHWZHHQDQG
It is therefore evident that 30,000 or more have never been used in Japan.
There are, on the other hand, hundreds of Kanji, to which Japanese attached new
meanings that have never been so used in China. There are also scores of new characters
created b-DSDQHVH0RVWRIWKHVHKDYH-DSDQHVHVRXQGVRUNXQRQO and no sounds or
“on”.
We have 304 varieties of sounds or “on” of Kanji which are in use in Japan. There are
manZKLFKKDYHWZRVRXQGVDQGDIHZWKDWKDYHWKUHHRUPRUH.
The varietRIVRXQGVRIFKDUDFWHUVLQ&KLQDLVPXFKPRUHQXPHURXVWKDQWKDWRI-DSDQ
Williams’ syllabic Dictionary of Chinese Language places the number of Chinese sounds
at 522 or 218 more than that of Japanese.
Chinese and Japanese sounds differ widely. But the initial consonants are alike in most
cases. The chief difference is in the qualitRIYRZHOVDQGHQGLQJV.
The following is the list of 304 Japanese sounds of Kanji, with an example of each.

a
byoh
don

ai
byuh
dzu

aku
cha
e

4 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

an
chaku
ei

atsu
chi
eki

ba
chiku
en

bai
chin
etsu

baku
chitsu
fu

ban
cho
fuh

batsu
choh
fuku

be
choku
fun

bei
chu
futsu

beki
chuh
ga

ben
chun
gai

betsu
chutsu
gaku

bi
da
gan

bin
dai
gatsu

bo
daku
ge

boh
dan
gei

boku
datsu
geki

bon
dei
gen

botsu
deki
getsu

bu
den
gi

bun
do
gin

butsu
doh
go

bDNu
doku
goh

goku
hoku
kaku

gon
hon
kan

The Sounds of Kanji 5

gu
hotsu
katsu

guh
hDNu
ke

gun
hyoh
kei

gwa
i
ken

gwai
iki
ketsu

gwan
iku
ki

gDNu
in
kiku

gyo
itsu
kin

gyoh
ja
kitsu

gRNu
jaku
ko

gyuh
ji
koh

ha
jiki
koku

hai
jiku
kon

haku
jin
kotsu

han
jitsu
ku

hatsu
jo
kuh

hei
joh
kun

heki
joku
kutsu

hen
ju
kwa

hi
juh
kwai

hiki
juku
kwaku

hin
jun
kwan

hitsu
jutsu
kwatsu

ho
ka
kDNu

hoh
kai
ko

6 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

kRh
netsu
rin

kRNu
ni
ritsu

kXh
niku
ro

ma
nin
roh

mai
noh
roku

maku
nu
ron

man
nDNu
ru

matsu
nyo
rui

mei
nyoh
rDNu

men
nyuh
ryo

metsu
o
ryoh

mi
oh
rRNu

min
oku
ryuh

mitsu
on
sa

mo
otsu
sai

moh
ra
saku

moku
rai
san

mon
raku
satsu

mu
ran
se

mDNu
ratsu
sei

myoh
rei
seki

na
reki
sen

nai
ren
setsu

nan
retsu
sha

natsu
ri
shaku

nei
riki
shi

nen
riku
shii

shiki
tai
wan

shiku
taku
ya

shin
tan
DNu

The Sounds of Kanji 7

shitsu
tatsu
yo

sho
tei
yoh

shoh
teki
RNu

shoku
ten
yu

shu
tetsu
yuh

shuh
to
yui

shuku
toh
za

shun
toku
zai

shutsu
ton
zan

so
totsu
zatsu

soh
tsu
ze

soku
tsuh
zei

son
tsui
zen

sotsu
u
zetsu

su
un
zoh

suh
utsu
zoku

sui
wa
zui

sun
wai

ta
waku
The vowels a, e, i, o, u are all short except when followed bKZKHQWKH are prolonged to
double length, The sounds of vowels are explained under the chapter on Romaji.
When two vowels are together as ai, ei, ii, ui, the qualitRIHDFKYRZHOLVUHWDLQHGDQG
pronounced successively. No sOODEOHHQGVZLWKDFRQVRQDQWH[FHSWQ$OOVRXQGVFRQVLVW
of one or two sOODEOHV2IWZRVllable sounds the final sOODEOHLVHLWKHURQHRINLNXDQG
tsu.
The consonants are b, by, ch, d, f, g, gw, gy, h, hy, j, k, kw, ky, m, my, n, ny, r, ry, s, sh, t,
w and y. The sound value of these consonants are given in the chapter on Romaji.
Of the 304 sounds here given, there are eight which are no longer distinguished in
colloquial speech b majorit of Japanese at present. The are gwa, gwai, gwan, kwa,
kwai, kwaku, kwan and kwatsu. These are now sounded as ga, gai, gan, ka, kai, kaku, kan
and katsu. This cuts down the actual number of sounds to 296.
Some exhaustive Japanese dictionaries give a few other sounds, but theDUHVRH[WUHPHO
rare in actual use, that theDUHQRWLQFOXGHGLQDERYH.

8 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Examples of Some Characters Which Are Sounded
Alike in Japan and China
The following are some characters which are sounded in Japan in the same wa as in
Mandarin Chinese (or Kuan Hua or official Chinese language) of toda:
ai
kwoh

chi
kXh

chuh

chun
lai

fu
lan

li

i

lin

jun
ma

kai
mai

kan
man

min

ki
na

nai

kin
nan

nu

san

ku
saku

kwa
sha

The Sounds of Kanji 9
kwai
shi

kwan

shin
wi

shoh

shuh

shun
yen

sui
yin

ta

tai
yiu

tan

wai

wan
yu

The onl difference between Japanese and Chinese sounds of characters in this list is as
follows: Japanese pronounce r where Chinese sound l. Japanese omit w and LQVllables
wi, HQDQGin.

CHAPTER III
JAPANESE SOUNDS OF KANJI
In the stud of Chinese ideographic script, what Japanese had done must have been: 1st,
to learn form and structure of each character; 2nd, to learn how it is sounded; 3rd, to learn
its meaning or what idea does it convey. The meaning translated into Japanese is known as
“kun”, “wakun” or “RPLZKLFKZHUHDFWXDOO attached to the corresponding characters
so that each character is regarded to have Chinese sounds and Japanese sounds.
Each character has one Chinese sound, onlRFFDVLRQDOO two or more, but the Japanese
sounds are usuallQXPHURXVDVPRVWFKDUDFWHUVDUHXVHGLQGLIIHUHQWVHQVHVWKH-DSDQHVH
translation of which naturallYDULHV.
The examples of a few characters with Chinese sounds (as sounded in Japan toda 
meanings and corresponding Japanese sounds follow:
Chinese Sound Meaning Japanese Sound


north kita
hoku to go north kitasu
hai to rebel somuku
to run away nigu
to defeat yaburu


to suit kanau
teki to go XNu
seki incidentally tamatama
taku ably masani
chaku only tada
heir yotsugi

haku
to scorch DNu
hoh to drE fire kawakasu
boku to crack saku
baku


easy )
safe ) DVXVKi
an cheap )
to pacify yasunzu
whQRt izukunzo

Japanese Sounds of Kanji 11

shu
to count kazou
su to measure hakaru
saku number ) kazu
soku several )
shoku often ) shibashiba
suh frequently )
Some characters have onl one Chinese and one Japanese sound, as in the following
examples:

shi paper kami

kai sea umi

rin forest hayashi

ju to give sazuku

kei dale tani
Homophonous Characters
As in an other language, both the Japanese and Chinese have words sounding the same
but having several different meanings. The Chinese characters having the same one sound
used for manGLIIHUHQWVHQVHVDUHJLYHQLQIRUHJRLQJH[DPSOHV-DSDQHVHZRUGVZLWKRQH
sound but with various meanings ma be written with corresponding variet of Chinese
characters, are as follows:
Toru in Japanese maPHDQDQ one of: to take, to hold, to grasp, to catch, to seize, to
get, to rob, to snatch, to occupy, to prefer, etc., and maEHZULWWHQWKXV:

Miru maPHDQWRVHHWRJD]HWRLQVSHFWWRH[SHULHQFHWRWUy , etc. Kanji for these are:

Mata maPHDQDJDLQDOVRWZLFHHWF.DQMLIRUZKLFKDUH:

Makotoni ma mean: truly, in fact, really, unmistakably, truthfully, faithfully, etc., Kanji
for which are:

12 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Masani maPHDQLPPLQHQWO\LQUHVSRQVHWRVTXDUHO\ULJKWIXOO\REOLJDWRU\HWF.DQML
for which are:

Hakaru ma mean: to plan, to measure, to survey, to calculate, to confer, to discuss, to
compute, etc., Kanji for which are:

Characters Used in Sense Peculiar to Japanese
While majoritRI-DSDQHVHNXQJLYHQWR&KLQHVHFKDUDFWHUVFRUUHVSRQGVWRWKHPHDQLQJ
as used b&KLQHVHSHRSOHWKHUHDUHTXLWHDQXPEHURILQVWDQFHVZKHUHQHZPHDQLQJVDUH
attached to Chinese characters b-DSDQHVHGLIIHUHQWIURPZKDW&KLQHVHXQGHUVWDQGWKHP
Thus with some characters, it means one thing in China and another in Japan. With others
it means another thing in Japan in addition to what it means in China. These characters are
seldom ever given Chinese sounds or “on”.
The examples of this kind of characters follow:
“on” “kun” 1st line, meaning in Japan.
2nd line, meaning in China.

tsukada cultivated land to till ground

shinobu to reflect on to reprove

togi attendant a phonetic

hyoh tawara Straw sack to distribute

tsuratsura deeply beautiful

sate so then to tear

shuh a province united action

tsubo 4 square DUGVDSODWHDu

bin bottle a jar

Japanese Sounds of Kanji 13

ran arashi storm mist on a hill

nado and so on to take up with both hands

sorou to put in order to cut off

kui a post name of a tree

shii name of a tree a mallet

yoh sama condition, polite appellation a pattern*

hi gutter name of a tree

chin tsubaki the camellia a long lived tree

hinoki Japanese cypress juniper

shin mori forest luxuriant growth

jun oki the open sea to dash against

rin sabishi lonesome to pour water

hatato with a clapping of hand to arrive

iso a beach a rock

hishi PushinglWRUXQDZDy

jaku wakai RXQJWRSOXFNLI*

hagi the bush clover the mugwort

susuki marsh grass thin*

zen food tablet food

oku omeru abashed chest, thought

take mushroom to grow luxuriously

14 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

atsurae to order to plaWULFk

sei uke to receive to request*

choh shirabe to investigate to harmonize*

DNu wake reason to explain*

wai makanai to furnish food wealth

kutsuwa bridle reins

sasuga indeed, trulWRZDWFh

tsuba a sword guard point of spear

kusari chain lead ore

ka kasumi a haze red clouds

ayu the sweet fish the sheat fish

katsuo the bonito the black fish

fuka shark dried fish
The Chinese meaning which is also understood in Japan is marked with an asterisk.

CHAPTER IV
JAPAN-MADE KANJI AND
JAPAN-CREATED SOUNDS
Kanji Created in Japan
Characters created in Japan are not ver numerous. Although their use is condemned b
scholars of Chinese classics, most of them are in universal use. Naturall the have no
Chinese sounds.

omokage (a face)

kuruma (jinrikisha)

hataraku (to work)

momme (1 dram)

tohge (a hill)

soma (forest)

maru (square)

tochi (horse chestnut)

masa (grain of wood)

waku (frame)

moku (carpenter)

kunugi (oak)

hata (ranch)

hatake (ranch)

chin (pug dog)

sasa (bamboo)

momi (rice hull)

16 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

goza (straw mat)

shikato (clearl)

kamishimo (kamishimo)

tasuki (tasuki)

tako (octopus)

shitsuke (discipline)

DJDWH VRRQ)

suberu (to slide)

tsuji (cross street)

komu (to crowd)

totemo (never)

appare (gloriousl)

joh (command)

tsukae (blocked)

shizuku (drops)

bRK DWDFN)

kazari (goldsmith)

kasugai (cramp)

iwashi (herring)

namazu (sheat fish)

tara (cod fish)

gozaru (is)
kohji (malt)

sugi (fir)
kashi (oak)

shigi (snipe)
kume

fuhto (foot)
tomo

Japan-Made Kanji and Japan-Created Sounds 17

inchi (inch)
maro

notto (knot)
ton

DKGR ard)
pound
Some Unusual Sounds Peculiar to Japane se
Since Kanji has manZDs of pronunciation it is extremelGLIILFXOWWRUHDGWKH-DSDQHVH
composition. Dictionaries give “on” and “kun”, i.e. Chinese and Japanese sounds. But
which one is correct for a given place is to be learned b experience only. Sometimes
unusual sounds are given to Kanji in compounds of two or more, baffling the learners as
they are not to be found in any dictionary. Most of such instances are found among proper
names.
Some Difficult Geographical and Personal Names

Yamato
Kohzu

Mukohmachi
Shisui

Kasagi
Nakoso

Unebi
Ashikaga

Fuke
Irugibashi

Sujikai
Iso

Chigusa
Kinosaki

Yaizu
Yonago

Isawa
Wake

Asa
Une

Nokata
Tosu

Isahaya
Asuka
Some Japanese surnames with unusual pronunciation:

Ohgimachi
Ohga

Katsura
Urabe

18 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Saegusa
Tokonami

Marinokohji
Asaka

Deshigawara

Kusakabe KakeXNRKMi

Igarashi
Morozumi

Dodo
Otokuni

Haji
Saeki


Osakabe,
Tatewaki
Gyohbu
Munekata
Osabe,
Hijikata
Katabe
Ubukata

Habu
Yuge

Mitarai
Shidara,

Hasekura Shigaraki

Asukai
Yosano

Shidehara
Sagara

Abiko
Ochi

Sasabe
Hattori

Onda
Watanabe

Hiki
Taema

Namekata
Negoro

Mibu

Japan-Made Kanji and Japan-Created Sounds 19
Among some of the earlier and modern writers are ones who would attach new combination
or compounds of Kanji to a colloquial Japanese words. Those words are not legible if
not furnished with sound giving Kana. Sometimes Kanji compounds are given sounds in
European languages mostl(QJOLVK7KHVHDUHIRXQGIRXQGHVSHFLDOO in technical work.
Japanese compounds other than proper names, which have unusual sounds peculiar
to Japanese are not in use so much as formerly. Yet there are quite a number of such
compounds are found in popular use, a few examples are therefore given here:

uchiwa (a round fan)

miDJH DJLIWDVRYHQLU)

futon (a cushion, a comforter)

hiRUL QHZHDWKHU)

shigure (a drizzle)

tabako (tobacco)

soroban (abacus)

shinonome (dawn, daEUHDN)

tokiwa (evergreen)

sasuga (truly, indeed)

shirooto (amateur)

appare (admirably, gloriousl)

hitasura (urgently, earnestl)

kiseru (a pipe)

ikan (how)
Variations in Characters
Chinese and Japanese dictionaries give old forms and vulgar forms of some of the characters.
Some old forms forms are just as popularl used in Japan as regular forms forms while
others are obsolete and not recognized any more.

20 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
A few comparative examples are given here:
old form
(koji)

regular form
(seiji or honji)

popular form
(zokuji)

regular form
(seiji or honji)

In addition to above are abbreviated form, known as rDNXML7KHVHDUHLQVRPHFDVHVRI
ancient origin, and in others quite modern.
abbreviated form
(rDNXML)

regular form

CHAPTER V
CALLIGRAPHY
By far the most conspicuous among many difficulties the students of Japanese language
encounter is the great discrepanc or divergence in forms of Kanji in handwriting from
those in print.
Kanji are difficult to master even in print, but the fact that much more contracted,
abbreviated or variant forms are frequentl used in writing, makes the stud quite
discouraging to beginners. Kana also are hard to read at times, especiall in connected
writing.
It is not within the scope of this work to go into details on this subject, but a few facts
about stOHVRIZULWLQJDUHJLYHQEHORw
The most formal and non-abbreviated form of Kanji, as in ordinarWpe-print is called
shinsho, kaisho, square stOHRUIXOOIRUP7KHPRVWDEEUHYLDWHGIRUPLVNQRZQDVVRKVKR
running stOHRUJUDVVVWle. The intermediate form between the two is called gRKVKRRU
cursive stOH.
These three styles are illustrated here.
mincho type square style cursive style grass style

Characters of modern tSHSULQW is a stOH of “kaisho” presumabl created during Ming
dQDVW\ hence the name “Mincho” tSH In writing “kaisho,” the form in the second
column is the rule, although some abbreviation and alteration make it look different from
the tSHSULQW7KLVVWle is used in most formal occasion. The cursive and grass stOHVDUH

22 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
used mostlLQRUGLQDU writing.
The ancient stOH “tensho,” often called “seal characters,” because of its use almost
exclusivel for seals at the present time, is sometimes ver difficult to read. Another old
stOHUHLVKRZKLFKLVRIODWHUFUHDWLRQWKDQWHQVKRLVPRUHHDVLO legible. This stOHLV
now often seen on signboard or monument.
The art of writing called “calligraphLVPXFKFXOWLYDWHGLQ-DSDQDVZHOODVLQ&KLQD
and masters of renown appeared from time to time in both countries. Writing bVRPHRI
the masters on a sheet of paper is often valued at manWKRXVDQGGROODUVDVDZRUNRIDUW.

CHAPTER VI
JAPANESE COMPOSITIONS
Although the study and practical application of Chinese characters into daily life in Japan
become general in course of a comparativelVKRUWWLPHDIWHUWKHLULQWURGXFWLRQWR-DSDQLW
is remarkable that the Japanese sQWD[GLGQRWEHFRPHPRGLILHGWKHUHEy.
The normal Japanese grammatical order of subject—attribute—predicate and the
preposition after the word it governs, has been alwaVUHWDLQHGHYHQZKHQUHDGLQJFODVVLFDO
Chinese sentences, bMXPSLQJEDFNDQGIRUWKIURPZRUGWRZRUG.
Chinese classical sentences (known as “Kanbun” in Japan) were composed b-DSDQHVH
according to rules of Chinese sQWD[EXWWKHUHDGLQJZDVLQYDULDEO done according to the
Japanese grammar. It is universallSUDFWLFHGWRSXWVLJQVDQGILJXUHV FDOOHGNDHULWHQ WR
show orders in reading, especiallIRUWKHEHQHILWRIEHJLQQHUV.
The following are examples of a Kanbun or classical Chinese sentence composed bD
Japanese writer, the first without and the second with reading signs, known as “kaeriten.”
The third is written in Japanese reading order with the help of Kana mixed between Kanji.
This kind of composition is called “kana-majiri bun.” The fourth which is the popular form
appearing in newspapers and magazines, gives directions how to read kana along side and
between Kanji. Kana at the side of a Kanji is called “furigana.”
Normal Japanese and Chinese method of writing is to begin at top and run downward,
the next line following following to the left and so on. Hence a book begins at where
English book ends.
In this book, quotations from text, as examples here, are given in Japanese manner,
that is in vertical lines. Onl where individual characters are given mixed with English
characters, theDUHPDGHWRUXQVLGHZDs.
The example taken is a passage from “Chuchoh Jijitsu” and is given in four different
stOHV 1. Straight Chinese characters with punctuation. 2. The above, with reading
directions. 3. In Japanese order mixed with kana. 4.The same with sounds in kana along
side Kanji. The last two are stOHVVHHQLQPRVW-DSDQHVHERRNVQHZVSDSHUVDQGPDJD]LQHV
at present.
The following should be read with the page held so that the right hand edge comes
to bottom, beginning at top of the right hand end line, reading down. Other examples
following are read in the same manner.

24 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Japanese Compositions 25

If Japan had adopted the wa of reading these sentences as Chinese do, that is to read
straight down in “on” or sounds only, (in Japanes sounds) it would be like the following:
Chuhshuh shi chi Kanji, Ohjin tei seibu ji sohtatsu, haku RNX tsuh gwaikoku shi ji,
choh Wani toku tenseki, taishi shi shi, i noh tsuhtatsu Kanseki DKDQJUDZLFKRK6DQNZRK
Gotei U Toh Bunbu Shuhkoh Kohshi shi taisei eki RFKXKVKXKRKNRVKLVKLQVHLNLNLLWVX
D ko toku ki sho, soku ki gi tsuh, mu sho kankaku, ki shukoh XK goh fusetsu, saiXK
shinshaku, soku XKLVRNXKRMRZRKNZDL.
But, as a matter of fact the above mode of reading had never been practiced b-DSDQHVH
in all probability because it was too difficult to master Chinese “shing” or intonation which is
something entirelQHZWR-DSDQHVHHDUVDQGWRQJXHDQGet it is essential in understanding
the passage. Without “shing,” the Chinese monosOODEOHVZLOOEHFRPHDPELJXRXV.
In Japan, all four sorts of writing are invariablUHDGLQWKHIROORZLQJPDQQHU:
Chuhshuh hajimete Kanji wo shiru. Ohjintei seibu ni shite sohtatsu, hiroku gwaikoku no
koto ni tsuh zento hosshi, Wani wo meshi tenseki wo RPX7DLVKLNRUHZRVKLWRVKLPRWWH
RNX Kanseki ni tsuhtatsu seri. ORVR gwaichoh Sankwoh Gotei U Toh Bunbu Shuhkoh
Kohshi no taisei mo mata chuhshuh ohko no shinsei to sono ki itsu nari. Yue ni sono sho
wo RPDEDVXQDZDFKLVRQRJLWVXKMLNDQNDNXVXUXWRNRURQDVKLVRQRVKXNRKZDVIXVHWVX
wo gassuru ga gotoshi. SaiXKVKLQVKDNXVXQDZDFKLPDWDPRWWHZRKNZDZRKRMRVXUXQL
taru i.
The following example is taken from the Chinese classic, “The code of filial piety.”
How Chinese in different localities read it and how Japanese would read it if the Chinese
method of reading in “on” onlZHUHIROORZHGDUHJLYHQVLGHE side.
Then follows the same passage with Japanese reading signs as seen in books published
in Japan, and the Japanese waRIUHDGLQJWKHVDPH.

Kuan Hua, (Mandarin or official Chinese)

26 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Fu hiao, t‘ien chi king, ti chi i, min chi hing HMDQSXOLFKLKLDRIXPXWXKSXKV]IX
mu ngai tsz chi sin hu.
Canton dialect,
Fu hao che, t‘in chi king, ti chi i, man chi hang Dan pat chi hao fu mo, pat sz’ fu mo
oi tsz chi sam u.
AmoGLDOHFW,
Hu hau chia, t‘ien chi keng, te chi gi, bin chi heng DMLQSXWWLKDXKXERWRNSXWVXKX
bo ai chu chi sim ho.
Japanese in “Kan-on,”
Fu koh sha, ten shi kei, chi shi gi, min shi koh DMLQIXFKLNRKIXERGRNXIXVKLIXER
ai shi shi shin ko.
But Japanese would never read the above passage in this manner.
The same text, when published in Japan would alwaV bear reading marks as in the
following:

Japanese would invariablUHDGWKLVSDVVDJHWKXV:
Sore koh wa, ten no kei, chi no gi, tami no okonai nari, hito fubo ni koh naru wo shirazu,
hitori fubo ko wo ai suru no kokoro wo omowazaran ka.

CHAPTER VII
JAPANESE COMPOUNDS
The Japanese had to study both the Chinese and the Japanese grammars; the Chinese
grammar to understand or write Chinese classics and the Japanese grammar to read the
Chinese composition in Japanese waDQGWRZULWH-DSDQHVHFRPSRVLWLRQ.
Order of words is often the opposite in Chinese and Japanese sQWD[HV but in man
compounds of two or more characters, the Chinese order of characters is retained in written
as well as in spoken Japanese, as is shown bIROORZLQJH[DPSOHV7RGD the Chinese order
of characters for these examples is popularized in Japan.

Japanese Compounds Not Understood by Chinese
New compounds taking two or more Kanji have been from time to time, created in Japan.
These compounds, though composed of Chinese characters are not understood b&KLQHVH
Some of them are:

Meiji Compounds
After the Meiji restoration in 1868 Japan took in western civilization under the guidance of
Europe and America. New things came to Japan in wholesale scale, in forms of railways,
telegraphs, army and navy, laws, postal service, government, education, agriculture, medical
science, commerce and banking, industry and machinery, philosophy and literature, religions,
art, sculpture and painting, and revolutionized the mode of living of the people in everZD\.

28 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
With new things, new terms for them to be created in Japanese language were necessar
outcome. Thousands and thousands of these newl coined words, which graduall came
into use, are composed, in most cases of compounds of two Kanji.
Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio Gijuku, the forerunner of the present Keio
University, who wrote a book describing his tour of Europe and America is responsible for
or a great manRIWKHVHQHZWHUPV.
It can be safelVDLGWKDWWKHZRUGVXVHGE Japanese todaLQZULWLQJDQGFRQYHUVDWLRQ
are mostlWKRVHZKLFKZHUHFUHDWHGGXULQJ0HLMLHUD.
Examples of Meiji Words

Chinese people would not readil understand the meaning of these new Japanese terms,
although theXQGHUVWDQGWKHPHDQLQJRIFRPSRQHQWFKDUDFWHUVLQGLYLGXDOO\7KH have their
own compounds different from those of Japanese. But modern tendencies are, that these
Japan-made compounds are graduall finding places in Chinese books and newspapers.
Thus Japan borrowed the characters from China 1500 HDUVDJRDQGLVQRZUHWXUQLQJWKHP
to China in form of compounds.
Summary
So far we have seen how Chinese ideographic script, which is called Kanji b Japanese
were introduced to Japan. The sounds and meanings of its characters were studied.

Japanese Compounds 29
In Japanese adaptation, Kanji were sounded as Chinese did in some cases and read in
Japanese meaning in others, so that now one character has “on” and “kun” or Chinese and
Japanese sounds. The Japanese sounds are usually many for one character.
The “on” or sounds supposed to have been taught from Chinese became simplified and
the Japanese at present distinguishes 304 different sounds while Chinese of todaKDYH
sounds.
Japan abolished the “shing” bZKLFK&KLQHVHGLVWLQJXLVKHVILQHVKDGHVRIVRXQGVDQG
intonations.
Japanese attached new meanings to some characters. Some new characters were also
made b-DSDQHVH-DSDQDOVROHDUQHGYDULRXVVWles of writing.
Japanese did not adopt Chinese grammar except to compose classical Chinese sentences.
The never read them straight down in Chinese fashion, but alwaV resorted to the back
and forth reading to conform to the Japanese grammar.
Japanese composition is nothing but the classical Chinese rewritten in order according
to Japanese grammar, supplanted with kana between where necessar to facilitate the
reading.
A great man Japanese compounds were coined in Japan from time to time. During
Meiji era when western civilization came in in a large scale, thousands of new compounds
were created. These are now being reimported into china.

CHAPTER VIII
PHONETIC USE OF KANJI
Soon after the introduction of Chinese characters into Japan, the Japanese who had alread
old mWKV religion, literature and histor in unwritten traditions, commenced to utilize
Chinese characters in recording them into writing. In doing so, however, the had to, at
times, resort to write Kanji for phonetic value only, disregarding the inherent meaning of
characters, especiallIRUSURSHUQDPHVDQGRWKHUWKLQJVZKLFKKDYHQRSDUDOOHOLQ&KLQD.
Thus, Kanji were emploHGLQWZRGLIIHUHQWSXUSRVHVYL]WKHILUVWLQWKHVDPHPDQQHU
as were used in China and the second for phonetic value only, entirel disregarding the
meaning. In ancient Japanese literature as “Kojiki” (written early in 8th centur DQGLQVWLOO
older “Norito” or Shintoh rituals, Kanji are emploHGLQWKHVHWZRGLIIHUHQWZDs mingled
together. The general text of Kojiki is written in classical Chinese, but the Norito is written
in Japanese reading order.
Poems in Kojiki and Man-RKVKXK RU%RRNRI0LOOLDUG/HDYHV DUHZULWWHQZLWK.DQML
for phonetic value only, though in the latter there are few Kanji used for or their own
meanings. Phonetic use of Kanji is based primaril on the sounds or “on”, but a few are
based on “kun” or Japanese sounds.
The following following are examples of poems from sources above mentioned:

Yakumo tatsu, itsumo DHJDNLWVXPDJRPHMLaegaki tatsuru, sono DHJDNLR.

Ametsuchi no, tomoni hisashiku, iitsugeto, kono kushi mitama, shakashi kerashimo.

Tago no ura X uchiidete mireba, machiro ni zo, fuji no takane ni, XNL wa furikeru.
furikeru.
The first example is a poem from Kojiki, the second from Man-RKVKXK These two
consist entirelRIFKDUDFWHUVXVHGSKRQHWLFDOO\7KHWKLUGZKLFKLVDOVRIURP0DQoh-shuh
is a mixed one. The 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 20th and 22d characters are
used for or their inherent meanings and the rest for phonetic value.

Phonetic Use of Kanji 31
A composition which is a mixture of Kanji for their own meaning and those for or
phonetic value is the forerunner forerunner of the Japanese composition of today, in which
the phonetic Kanji is differentiated by simplification of form. The simplified phonetic
characters are “kana” of today. A sentence composed of Kanji and kana is a kana-mixed
sentence or “kanamajiri bun”, the standard form of writing in Japan, today .

CHAPTER IX
KANA
Kanji used for or phonetic values are known as “kana”. Such kana as appearing in Kojiki,
Man-RKVKXK and other ancient scripture are regular Kanji and are called “ManRK-
gana”.
It seems that man different Kanji served to represent one and the same sound. The
number of different sounds thus represented b.DQMLLVIRUW-seven, but the characters used
phoneticall ma number over three hundred. These Kanji serving as kana were in time
written more and more in abbreviated running stOHXQWLOWKH developed into “hiragana”.
There are two different stOHVLQKLUDJDQD2QHLVWKHRUGLQDU hiragana of today, having
one form form for or each sound, and the other is “hentaigana” or variants comprising
various forms forms for or the same one sound. The use of hentaigana has been in vogue
before Meiji era.
The “katakana” is another form of kana, ver seldom used before Meiji, but is in
extensive use today. It consists of a part of ManRKJDQDFKDUDFWHUV.
The following table gives the more important ManRKJDQDKHQWDLJDQDDORQJVLGHZLWK
each of hiragana and katakana of todaZLWKVRXQGVLQ5RPDML.

Kana 33
0003

34 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Kana 35

The last kana, although not found found in older books and therefore must be of recent
invention, plaVDQLPSRUWDQWUROHLQPRGHUQ-DSDQHVHVllabary as its use at present is as
frequent as anRWKHUNDQD)RUPHUO mu used to be used in its place. Whether it has been
pronounced mu or n is not clear.
All Japanese kana in Romaji are given again below:

36 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
i ro ha ni ho he to chi ri nu ru o
wa ka RWDUHVRWVXQHQDUDPXu
i no o ku DPDNHIXNRHWHa
sa ki XPHPLVKLHKLPRVHVXXn
I-ro-ha and Gojuin
The above is the standard order of Japanese sOODEDU\ called “iroha” after the first three
sOODEOHV in the same fashion as the English alphabet is called A B C or Greeks called
it—alpha-beta. Iroha is said to have been first arranged b.RER'DLVKL $' LQ
a poem which reads:
Iro wa nioedo
chirinuruo,
Wagayo tarezo
Tsune naran?
Ui no okuDPD
KRKNRHWH
Asaki XPHPLML
Ei mo sezu.
Chamberlain’s translation is as follows:
Though gaLQKXH
The blossoms flutter down,
Alas! who, then in this world of ours,
MaFRQWLQXHIRUHYHU"
Crossing today the utmost limits
Of phenomenal existence,
I shall see no more fleeting dreams,
Neither be anORQJHULQWR[LFDWHG.
It is presumed that Kobo-Daishi arranged this poem using each of all Japanese sounds
once and leaving none out. But the modern Japanese pronounce we, wi and wo exactl
like e, i and o respectively, which makes repetition of same sound in three cases. It ma
be surmised that the Japanese of former daVKDGVRXQGVIRUZHZLDQGZRGLIIHUHQWIURP
those for e, i and o.
It is also to be noticed that some of aspirate consonants in modern “iroha” are vocalized
in Kobo’s poem. All h are silent and converted to w before a, two sOODEOHV combine to
make another sound in one place.
Dots and circles are added to some kana to modif sounds, but these signs are not to
be seen in older books. The must be therefore of later invention. Ancients have been
vocalizing sOODEOHVZKHUHUHTXLUHGIRUWKHVDNHRIHXSKRQ\.
The aspirate consonants vocalized through addition of double dots are k, s, t and h. It is
peculiar that Japanese considered h to be apirate, whose corresponding vocal consonant to
be b and its contracted or compressed form to be p; whereas phoneticall considered we
know p is an aspirate and b is its vocal form, and has nothing in relation with h, which is
of entirely different construction.

Kana 37
Dots and circles are not omitted anPRUHZKHUHUHTXLUHGVLQFH0HLMLHUD'LIILFXOWLHV
concerning where to vocalize or compress are thereb eliminated. The onl remaining
difficulties are in where to pronounce h and where not and where to combine two or more
kana to make a new sound and where not.
Writing in Romaji avoids these difficulties as it directlUHSUHVHQWVZKDWLVVRXQGHG%XW
what is written in Romaji cannot be readilFRQYHUWHGLQWRNDQDZULWLQJZLWKRXWWKRURXJK
knowledge of Japanese orthography, a rudiment of which is given in chapter XIV .
The modification of kana sounds bGRWVRUFLUFOHVLVEHVWH[SODLQHGDIWHUJLYLQJDQRWKHU
arrangement of kana called “Gojuin” or “Fift6RXQGV7KLVDUUDQJHPHQWLVPRUHPRGHUQ
and scientific. It is based on five vowels in a group and nine consonants combining with
each of vowels in order. It is reallDSKRQHWLFDUUDQJHPHQW.

a column i column u column e column o column
a line a i u e o
k line ka ki ku ke ko
s line sa si su se so
t line ta ti tu te to
n line na ni nu ne no
h line ha hi hu he ho
m line ma mi mu me mo
y line ya yi yu ye yo
r line ra ri ru re ro
w line wa wi wu we wo
Some of these however do not correctlUHSUHVHQWWKH-DSDQHVHVRXQGVRIWRGD\7KHVHFRQG
and the third sOODEOHVRIWOLQHDUHPRUHOLNHWVLDQGWVX7KHVHFRQGDQGWKHIRXUWKVllables
of line are sounded and written like those of a line. The third sOODEOH of w line is also
sounded and written like the third sOODEOH of a line. The second, the fourth and the fifth
sOODEOHVRIZOLQHDUHZULWWHQGLIIHUHQWIURPEXWVRXQGHGH[DFWO like those of the a line.
Modern Romaji therefore represents kana sounds with the following:

a i u e o
ka ki ku ke ko
sa shi su se so
ta chi tsu te to
na ni nu ne no
ha hi fu he ho
ma mi mu me mo
ya i yu e yo
ra ri ru re ro
wa i u e o

38 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
The name, “Fift6RXQGVLVDPLVQRPHU7KHUHDUHRQO fortIRXUVRXQGVDQGWKHQXPEHU
of kana characters is fortVHYHQ.
The second sOODEOHRIVOLQHLVZULWWHQVKLDQGWKHWKLUGVllable of h line is written fu fu
for reasons given under sounds of Japanese consonants.
The modification of kana b dots or vocalization of aspirate consonants affects the
sOODEOHVRINVWDQGKOLQHVUHVXOWLQJLQSURGXFWLRQRIJ]GDQGEOLQHV7KHPRGLILFDWLRQ
by compression of h line produces p line.

ga gi gu ge go
za ji zu ze zo
da ji zu de do
ba bi bu be bo
pa pi pu pe po
Here again irregularities analogous to those in aspirate consonants are seen. Those sixt-
seven varieties of sounds of kana together with final n, making sixtHLJKWLQDOOFRQVWLWXWH
the total elements of modern Romaji. The number of different kana characters is sevent-
three. In other words, Japan has seventWKUHHNDQDFKDUDFWHUVLQFOXGLQJPRGLILFDWLRQVE
addition of dots and circles, but no more than sixtHLJKWVRXQGV.
These sixtHLJKW kana sounds ma be called single sounds, as each of them can be
represented with a single kana. But in practical Japanese speech, are heard thirtWKUHHRWKHU
sounds which ma be called combined or compound sounds. The can be inadequatel
representable with combination of two or more kana characters, without however an
means to show that the sounds are to be combined into one, instead of sounded separately.
The compound sounds are here given in Romaji with usual kana combinations inclosed in
brackets:
ka (ki-D, ki-a), ku (ki-X, ki-u), ko (ki-R, ki-o)
sha (shi-D, shi-a), shu (shi-X, shi-u), sho (shi-R, shi-o)
cha (chi-D, chi-a), chu (chi-X, chi-u), cho (chi-R, chi-o)
nya (ni-D, ni-a), nyu (ni-X, ni-u), nyo (ni-R, ni-o)
hya (hi-D, hi-a), hyu (hi-X, hi-u), hyo (hi-R, hi-o)
mya (mi-D, mi-a), myu (mi-X, mi-u), myo (mi-R, mi-o)
rya (ri-D, ri-a), ryu (ri-X, ri-u), ryo (ri-R, ri-o)
gya (gi-D, gi-a), gyu (gi-X, gi-u), gyo (gi-R, gi-o)
ja (ji-D, ji-a), ju (ji-X, ji-u), jo (ji-R, ji-o)
bya (bi-D, bi-a), byu (bi-X, bi-u), byo (bi-R, bi-o)
pya (pi-D, pi-a), pyu (pi-X, pi-u), pyo (pi-R, pi-o)

CHAPTER X
SOUNDS OF JAPANESE SPEECH
It would seem, in a book titled Phonetics, too much space was given to preliminar
statements about written Japanese, before we come to chapters or phonetic analVLV of
Japanese sounds.
But reallLWZDVDQHFHVVLW to describe how Japanese sounds are outcome of Chinese
sounds and ancient Japanese; the language itself is based, not on spoken tongue but rather
on written words, which allow varied sounds, circumstantial or personal Relation of
written characters to sounds is not like that of other languages. Romaji is a fairl good
representation of spoken Japanese, but it is not HWXQLYHUVDOO adopted, and besides there
are varieties of Romaji sVWHPV.
For HDUVPRYHPHQWVDUHRQWRUHSODFHSKRQHWLFDOSKDEHWLFDOVFULSWIRUGLIILFXOW.DQML
but so far Kanji mixed with kana is the official mode of writing.
Considering all these points, it was deemed advisable to present what is the status of
Japanese language todaE giving space to the subject in chapters heretofore. Then we feel
well prepared to anal]HVRXQGVRI-DSDQHVHODQJXDJH.
Japanese Vowels
The division of sounds into two classes, namely, vowels and consonants is of European
origin. No mention has ever been made in older Japanese books of pre-Meiji era. It is onl
after western ideas were introduced into Japan, that the analVLV of sounds into vowels
and consonants is made. Some such terms as father-sound, mother-sound, and child-sound
were mentioned in some books of Meji period. But there is no wa of telling whether
those were translation of western phonetic terms. In anFDVHVRXQGVRI-DSDQHVHODQJXDJH
can be classified into vowels and consonants, even if there are no characters to represent
vowels and consonants separately.
Now let us consider Japanese vowels which are five in number in relation to English
vowels. Commencing with a high-front-tongue vowel as e in be, continue to utter a sound
gradually lowering the tongue and jaw until the sound assumes the quality of a in art, then
recede the tongue backward, at the same time round the lips until the sound produced will be
that of u in rude, all in one breath of voice; the sounds of all vowels given below will have
been produced with all shades of possible vowel sounds between each successive two.
e in be
i in it
a in fate
e in egg
e in there

40 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
a in at
a in art
a in all
u in up
o in odd
o in oak
u in put
u in rule
The movements of the tongue, jaw and lips without jerks or stopping and with a continued
uniform utterance of voice will take an exercise for a number of times. The whole operation
from e to u should not take anPRUHWKDQILYHVHFRQGV.
The relative positions of Japanese vowels will be at points as indicated in the diagram
below:

In English vowels further differentiation and subdivision can be made, thus: e in be is more
close than e in react, a in educate is more open than a in fate. The same sort of subdivision
can be made with most of other vowels. The vowels in accented sOODEOHVDUHLQJHQHUDO
more teuse, high, narrow or close than those in unaccented sOODEOHV2QO thirteen tSLFDO
English vowels are given in above table, but in realitWKHUHDUHPRUH.
Japanese vowels, on the other hand, are limited to onlILYHGLVWULEXWHGDORQJ(QJOLVK
vowel scale at fairlXQLIRUPGLVWDQFHV,WLVQDWXUDOWKDWDUDWKHUZLGHODWLWXGHLVDOORZHGWR
the qualitRIHDFKYRZHO,QIDFWFORVHRURSHQIURQWRUEDFNYDULHW of Japanese vowels
is considered as a personal or provincial difference. So, there is hardl an difficult in
understanding the speaker on that account. Japanese ears can tolerate a considerable range
in qualitRIYRZHOVRXQGV.
Onl thing, however, concerning the manner in which average Japanese would utter
his vowel sounds is verLPSRUWDQWDQGQHHGVDPHQWLRQKHUH-DSDQHVHDVDZKROHDOPRVW
invariabl moves the mouth, tongue and jaw in speech much less than people speaking
English, French, German or anRWKHU(XURSHDQODQJXDJHV.
After a series of observations on various subjects including Japanese, American and
German people, the results given below are obtained.
When a Japanese would pronounce a i u e o in succession, the distances between edges
of teeth, between lips and between corners of mouth will be as follows:

Sounds of Japanese Speech 41
distance between
teeth
distance between
lips
distance between
corners of mouth
a 1/16 inch ¼ inch 2 inches
i 1/32 inch ¼inch 2 inches
u 1/32 inch 1/16 inch 1½ inches
e 1/16 inch ¼ inch 1¾ inches
o 1/16 inch ¼ inch 2 inches
Whereas if an average American would pronounce ah, ee, oo, ay, oh in succession, the
distances between teeth, between lips and between corners of mouth would show following
measures:
ah ½ inch 1 inch 2 inches
ee 1/16 inch ½ inch 2¼ inches
oo ¼ inch ⅛ inch ⅜ inch
ay ¼ inch. 1⅛ inches 2 inches
oh ⅜ inch ⅜ inch 1¼ inches
Of course in actual speech, both in Japanese and American, variations from the measures
given here are liable to occur, according to the expression, loudness of speech, emotion
or degree of excitement; but the general tendenc of Japanese to pronounce with less
movements of mouth parts in speech is distinctlREVHUYDEOH.
As a general rule it is not of absolute necessit to open jaws or lips to a fixed degree
to utter a given sound. Ventriloquists are trained to pronounce vowels of open or closed
qualitDWZLOOZLWKRXWVHHPLQJPRYHPHQWVRIOLSVRUMDZV7KHYROXPHRIPRXWKFDYLW
ma be, upon training, changed to a required size at will, without visible movements of
lips. Once an American lady, after traveling through Japan, rightlUHPDUNHGWKDW-DSDQHVH
talk like ventriloquists. Their movement of mouth and lips in talking is so little as to escape
notice. The talk with nearl closed mouth so that during inspiration, a peeuliar hissing
sound is heard.
Americans and Europeans should, therefore regard Japanese vowels as a sort of
unstressed or unaccented vowels uttered in more or less indifferent manner. Japanese on the
other hand, when studLQJ(XURSHDQODQJXDJHVVKRXOGSDUWLFXODUO endeavor to pronounce
all vowels in a much exaggerated manner in comparison to those of Japanese language.
The qualitRI-DSDQHVHYRZHOVLVVXPPHGXSLQWKHIROORZLQJ:
i-----somewhere between ee in eel and i in ill
e—somewhere between e in eight and e in egg
a----like a in art
o....somewhere between o in odd and o in oak
u.--somewhere between u in put and u in rude

42 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Variation in Japanese Vowels
The qualit of Japanese vowels has not been the subject of stud to an extent in Japan,
as is shown b lack of books treating it. If one would pronounce a Japanese vowel in an
improper manner, chances are that he would not be corrected or criticized bDQ teacher,
except perhaps at the kindergarten stage. If two different shades of a Japanese vowel should
be pronounced in succession, one would be at a loss to know or tell which is the correct
sound and which wrong.
The qualitRI-DSDQHVHYRZHOVJLYHQLQWKHSUHVHQWFKDSWHULVWKHRXWFRPHRIREVHUYDWLRQ
for manears. The average of sounds heard in middle Japan including TokR2VDNDDQG
west is taken as a standard.
Vowels pronounced in north and extreme east are generallPRUHFORVH7KRVHRIH[WUHPH
west are more or less nasalized. ManHOLVLRQVDQGFRQWUDFWLRQVRFFXULQ6DWVXPDVRXQGV.
As to the opening of lips and jaws, it also varies widelLQGLIIHUHQWORFDOLWLHVDQGYDULRXV
individuals. But the general variation in different districts of Japan is toward narrower if
any. In loud speech, the general movement is much exaggerated and the lips and jaws
naturallRSHQZLGHU.
Length of Japanese Vowels
Now we come to the most important facts about Japanese vowels, and that is the length of
time consumed for a vowel. The length of vowels does not varZKHWKHUWKH are preceded
bDFRQVRQDQWRUQRWDVWKHFRQVRQDQWDOPRGLILFDWLRQDIIHFWVWKHLQLWLDOSRUWLRQRIDYRZHO
without consuming anH[WUDWLPH.
Kindergarten children of Japan, soon after learning all the sounds contained in ‘i-ro-ha’,
are able to pronounce all fortIRUW-seven sounds of kana in about twelve seconds. As the
kana sounds are uttered at the uniform length, it follows that each kana sOODEOHFRQVXPHV
about a quarter of a second. In ordinarFRQYHUVDWLRQLQ-DSDQHVHDQLQGLYLGXDONDQDVRXQG
would occupWLPHQRWIDUDUIURPWKLVUDWH.
For the present, we will call a quarter of a second a unit of length of Japanese sounds. All
sounds of kana are uttered in one unit. These we call short sounds. As kana, the elements of
Japanese speech end in short vowel and the onlILQDOFRQVRQDQWEHLQJQ-DSDQHVHVSHHFK
most often ends in short vowel or n. This is wh conversation in Japanese often sounds
to English ears to have abrupt ending. When English speech ends in a vowel, it is more
frequentlDORQJYRZHO.
There are other sounds which take exactlWZLFHDVORQJDVWKHVKRUWWKDWLVWZRXQLWV
and which is here called long sounds.
In English sounds, there is a certain amount of change in qualit in short and long
sounds of supposedlWKHVDPHTXDOLW\)RULQVWDQFH:
a in father (open), a in sofa (close)
i in machine (close), i in it (open)
u in rule (close), u in pull (open)
e in the KLJK HLQWKHP ORZ)
o in old (close), o in obe RSHQ)

Sounds of Japanese Speech 43
Japanese vowels do not suffer in qualit of sound when long or short, the long sound
being simple prolongation of corresponding short sound. In case of Japanese long e, it tends
to end somewhat like i, and long o tends to terminate in u quality, although in colloquial
speech long e and o of uniform qualitWKURXJKRXWDUHIUHTXHQWO heard. With long a, i and
u, no appreciable change in quality, except perhaps a slight relaxation in the second half is
noticeable. The rules of kana writing require a, i and u to be repeated to make them long,
whereas long o is written ou and long e written ei. We find exact analogLQORQJRDQGDLQ
English, especiallWKDWRI%ULWLVKWKDWWKH assume u and i qualitWRZDUGHQG.
Foreigners learning Japanese language usuallRYHUORRNWKHIDFWDFWWKDWWKHORQJYRZHO
should occupH[DFWO the time of two short vowels or two units.
In English, so called long vowels are not alwaV long in speech and short vowels, on
the other hand, are often drawn out especiall when emphasized. In French and German
speeches there are long, medium and short vowels. But in Japanese language there are onl
two, namelORQJDQGVKRUWDQGWKHORQJDOZDs take twice the time of the short. The short
sound takes one unit and the long sound takes two units of time.
It is unfortunate that man Japanese proper names when written in Romaji are nearl
alwaVGLVSHQVHGZLWKVLJQVRUPDUNVWRVKRZORQJYRZHOV7KLVDSSOLHVWRFDVHVRIRDQG
u. Other vowels present no difficulty, as e or i are followed b i for long sound, and a is
verVHOGRPSURORQJHG.
Some of the more popular geographic and famil names with long vowels with
pronunciation and time-units are given below:
Written Sounded In Units
Kobe Ko-o-be 3
Osaka O-o-sa-ka 4
Kyoto Kyo-o-to 3
Tokio To-o-kRR 4
Nikko Ni-k-ko-o 4
Kyushu Kyu-u-shu-u 4
Hyogo Hyo-o-go 3
Kofu Ko-o-fu 3
Kyobashi Kyo-o-ba-shi 4
Oshima O-o-shi-ma 4
Omiya O-o-mi-ya 4
Oiso O-o-i-so 4
Oita O-o-i-ta 4
Ito I-to-o 3
Sato Sa-to-o 3
Ota O-o-ta 3
Kato Ka-to-o 3
Naito Na-i-to-o 4

44 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Todo To-o-do-o 4
Kwanto Kwa-n-to-o 4
Soshu So-o-shu-u 4
Taiko Ta-i-ko-o 4
Shogun Sho-o-gu-n 4
Judo Ju-u-do-o 4
OriginallDOOORQJYRZHOVZHUHPDUNHGZLWKDGDVKRUFLUFXPIOH[RYHUWKHP%XWRZLQJWR
the fact that such tSHVDUHQRWDYDLODEOHDWWLPHVWKHPDUNVDUHRIWHQOHIWRXWLQSULQW2WKHU
devices for this purpose avoiding the use of special tSHVDUH:
1. Doubling of a vowel to be sounded long.
2. Addition of i after e, and u or w after o.
3. Addition of h after a vowel to be prolonged.
But none of these as HWPHWWKHXQLYHUVDODSSURYDODQGFDPHWRJHQHUDOXVH.
Well established proper names with long vowels are not numerous. It is perhaps best not
to alter the spelling of names already in general use. Fortunately they are not many enough
to bar students from committing them to memory.

CHAPTER XI
JAPANESE CONSONANTS
Sounds of Japanese Consonants
Consonants used in Japanese speech are 14 in number. TheDUHNJV]WGQKES
m, y, r and w. Each one of these are supposed to precede vowels a, i, u, e, o. But in Romaji
method of spelling some discrepancies occur as has been already pointed
out.
Among these consonants, the sound value of k, g, n, h, b, m and p are nearlHTXLYDOHQW
to those of English, namel:
k—k in kind
g—g in go, never like g in gentle, even bef fore e or i
n—n in no
h—h in he. For h before u, which is usuallVSHOOHGIXVHHEHORw
b—be in bee
m—m in met, the humming stage or nasal hum with mouth closed just before opening
the mouth for the vowel is verPXFKVKRUWHULQFRPSDULVRQWRWKDWRI(QJOLVK7KHVDPH
applies to n, r, or s
p—p in pen.
For other consonants namelV]WG\UDQGZWKHSRLQWVRIGLIIHUHQFHLQVRXQGVIURP
those of English are explained below.
S is pronounced with position of tongue probablVOLJKWO behind to that of English, or
more back portion of tongue is involved in production of Japanese s. Hence less hissing is
heard.
Romaji spells kana of s line, as sa, shi, su, se, so. No Japanese are conscious that
the second sOODEOH is produced with a different consonant from the rest. Japanese s is
phoneticallWKHVDPHEHIRUHDRUL,WLVWKHIRUHLJQHDUVWKDWPLVWRRN-DSDQHVHVEHIRUHLWR
be sh in she, at earl0HLMLHUD2OGHUZULWLQJVJLYHVLRUFLIRUWKLVVRXQG.
The nature of the consonant does not var throughout the line, but owing to the
involvement of back portion of tongue and the indifferent manner in which all vowels are
uttered, the sound for si (shi in Romaji) assumes the nature of sound intermediate between
English see and she without rounding or puckering of lips.
The sound of z is the Japanese s vocalized. The majoritRI-DSDQHVHXWWHU]ZLWKWRQJXH
briefl touching the roof of mouth. Then the sound produced will be more like ds or dz.
There are others, however, who pronounce this consonant without contact of tongue to
the roof of mouth, in which case the sound closel resembles that of z in zeal, the onl
difference being the back portion of tongue which is used.

46 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
T and D
In uttering the consonants t and d the Japanese seem to be slow in removing the tongue
from the roof of mouth, especiall when close vowels like i or u follows, resulting in
sounds somewhat like chi, tsu, ji dzu.
The sounds of chi and ji should not be pronounced like chi in chick or ji in Jim, with
usual puckering of lips. Japanese do not round lips for or chi and ji.
Romaji spells t and d line of kana, thus;
ta chi tsu te to
da ji dzu de do
ApparentlWKUHHGLIIHUHQWFRQVRQDQWVDUHLQYROYHGLQHDFKOLQHWKDWLVWFKWVDQGGMG]
Japanese usually are not conscious of this fact.
It is probable that the Japanese pronounce t or d lines with the idea of uttering kana
of equal nature, but to foreign ears the five kana in a line sound as though made of three
separate consonants through following reasons: (1) Japanese t and d are produced on area
further further back on the tongue and corresponding further back portion of palate than
for English t and d; (2) slowness of removing the tongue from the position to that of the
directlIROORZLQJYRZHO  FORVHQHVVRULQGLIIHUHQWQDWXUHRI-DSDQHVHYRZHOV.
Relation of Z Line to D Line
In modern Japanese speech the second and third syllables of z and d lines are no more
distinguishable in sounds, although different kana characters exist.
Modern Romaji spells these two lines thus:
za ji zu ze zo
da ji zu de do
There are reasons to believe ji, zu of z line differed from those of d line at former times;
probablDV]L]XDQGMLGVX-DSDQHVHRWKRJUDSK teaches and insists that the proper kana
is used in a given word.
Y is Shorter and Weaker
Y before a, u and o is like LQ(QJOLVKDOWKRXJKZHDNHUDQGH[WUHPHO short. Before e and
i it is not sounded, kana characters for these positions lacking. One maILQGLQ5RPDMLe
is of ten spelled in place of e, especiallIRUSURSHUQDPHVEXWWKHQRUPDO-DSDQHVHVRXQG
for or such syllable is e.
W before a is not like w in wad. In English a after w is alwaVEURDGEHFDXVHRIKLJKO
rounded quality of English w. Japanese w is less ostentatious and is pronounced like a
verVKRUWX$VKRUWDQGVOLJKWDSSURDFKLQJRIOLSVSUHFHGHDYRZHOVRWKDWLWLVKHDUGRQO
before a, and is not audible or entirelVLOHQWEHIRUHRWKHUYRZHOV6SHFLDONDQDFKDUDFWHUV
exist for wi, we and wo, although modern Japanese sounds for them are identical with i,
e, and o.

Japanese Consonants 47
H before a, i, e, o is sounded like that of English, but before u (which is written fu in
Romaji), owing to the closeness of Japanese u, the approached lips cause this consonant
to produce a frictional sound resembling f. But this sound is produced by the passage of
breath through a narrow slit between lips, and is entirelGLIIHUHQWIURP(QJOLVKIZKLFKLV
produced bDLUIRUFLQJWKURXJKFUHYLFHVFUHDWHGE light contact between upper teeth and
lower lips.
JAPANESE R
Japanese r is a distinctive sound, having no parallel in European or in Chinese languages.
Like other Japanese sounds there are varieties or Japanese r, but the usual and the most
prevalent Japanese r is a tongue explosive, that is, the sound is produced like English d, with
the difference that the tongue is made contact to the roof of mouth a little further behind, and
is more relaxed, and the tip or front edge of the tongue only comes in a very light contact with
the palate, the force force of explosion being much weaker than for or d.
Japanese r ma be best understood if compared with some of r sounds in European
languages.
1. Tongue trill voiced (French, German, Slavonians)
2. Tongue trill aspirate (Slavonic).
3. Tongue resistive voiced (Spanish)
4. Tongue resistive aspirate (Spanish)
5. Tongue moulded voiced (German, French)
6. Uvular trill voiced (German, French)
7. Uvular fricative voiced (German, French)
8. Tongue explosive voiced (Japanese).
Japanese r resembles t in forty, kitt in rapid colloquial utterance, when t is sounded
somewhat like a verOLJKWG.
For Japanese r, therefore, tongue should be more relaxed than for d, and the touch of
tongue to palate should be lighter and briefer than for d.
The fact that three hundred HDUVDJRZKHQPDFKLQHNQLWWHGJRRGVZHUHILUVWLPSRUWHG
to Japan b Portuguese and the word “medias” came to Japan, while the Japanese toda
call all machine knitted goods “meriDVXSURYHVWKHFORVHUHODWLRQVKLSEHWZHHQ-DSDQHVH
r and European d.
Japanese Final N
The onlILQDOFRQVRQDQWQKDVDSHFXOLDUVRXQGGLIIHUHQWIURP(QJOLVKQRU)UHQFKOLTXLG
n. The English n is produced bYRLFHHVFDSLQJWKURXJKWKHQRVHZLWKWKHPRXWKRSHQEXW
the front front and side edges of tongue in contact with the roof of mouth behind the upper
teeth completely shutting off the current of air from passing through the mouth. But for or
n before k or g the top of tongue at back position contacts the roof of mouth for shutting off
the mouth passage, because the next coming sound k or g requires the extreme back part of
tongue to be in contact with the roof of mouth.

48 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
The French final n is constructed in an entirel different manner. When n follows a
vowel, it indicates that the vowel is nasalized: that is, the vowel sound is made with the
nasal passage open. In other words, the sound of n is made at the same time with that of the
vowel and not af after it.
The Japanese final n is produced when the voice is emitted while both the nasal and
oral passages are open, with the tongue and other mouth parts are at the state of complete
relaxation and rest. If the mouth, tongue and the chin are at rest, a voice uttered will be
neutral vowel, provided the passage to the nose is not open. The same sound with passage
to the nose open is the Japanese final n.
It should be uttered in continuous breath but separatel from the vowel preceding it,
taking one unit of time for or itself. If another vowel follows it, the Japanese final n should
not impart anQTXDOLW to that vowel. This is made possible bWKHIDFWDFWWKDWLQXWWHULQJ
the Japanese final n the tongue does not touch the roof of mouth.
Examples:
ten te-n in 2 units
sen-oh se-n-o-o in 4 units
ken-i ke-n-i in 3 units
Japanese final n is pronounced onlZKHQLWSUHFHGHVV]K or w, or when it ends a word.
In other instances, variations from regular sound occur as follows:
1. Like ng in sing when before k or g.
2. Like English n when before ch, ts, t, d, n, r, all of which require contact of tongue with
roof of mouth.
3. Like m before m, p, b, all of which require closing of lips. (Original Hepburn sVWHPRI
Romaji spelt m in place of n in these cases.)
Examples illustrating these variations of Japanese final n:
1. tenki
jinguh
2. sentoh, renraku, dendoh, enchaku, sentsuh,
sennen.
3. sanmDNXVDQSX
kenbi.
Contracted or Doubled Consonants
These are usuall results of combination of two or more characters, which if sounded
separatelZRXOGPDNHXQHXSKRQLFFRQQHFWLRQ7KHVRXQGVRINVWVKFKWVDQGSPD
be doubled, in which case theDUHVSHOOHGLQ5RPDMLDVNNVVWWVVKWFKDQGSS.
Examples: sekken, sessei, zattoh, sesshoh, hatchaku, settsu, happi.
If the words in these examples were divided into sound units, theZLOOEH,
In Sound Units Contraction of
se-k-ke-n seki-ken
se-s-se-i setsu-sei
za-t-to-h zatsu-toh
se-s-sho-h setsu-shoh

Japanese Consonants 49
ha-t-cha-ku hatsu-chaku
se-t-tsu setsu-tsu
ha-p-pi hatsu-hi
In pronouncing these, the compression stage of k, t (of the third example) and p is prolonged
to occupRQHH[WUDXQLW)RUWLQWKHILIWKH[DPSOHFRPSUHVVLRQIRU-DSDQHVHFKDQGIRU
t in the sixth example, compression for ts are likewise to be prolonged to occupDQH[WUD
unit of time. For s in the second and fourth example, an English s sound is to be uttered for
the extra unit. The rules for contracting or doubling consonants maEHVWDWHGDVIROORZV:
In compounds of two or more Kanji, if one ends with anRQHRINLNXFKLRUWVXDQGWKH
next begins with anRQHRINWKIVRUFKLQPRVWFDVHVWKHHQGLQJRIWKHILUVWLVRPLWWHG
in pronunciation and the beginning consonant of the second is doubled, except in case of h
or f which is changed to p before doubling, and ch adds t before it instead of doubling.
Examples:
If Pronounced Separately Pronunciation In Compound

(hiki-fu) hippu

(seki-ka) sekka

(gaku-koh) gakkoh

(doku-ho) doppo

(ichi-hai) ippai

(hachi-ho) happoh

(setsu-ken) sekken

(hitsu-kei) hikkei

(sotsu-toh) sottoh

(kutsu-kRNX) kukkRNu

(ketsu-shoh) kesshoh

(ketsu-chaku) ketchaku
Doubling of m and n occurs in the sam way, the sounds of which are like those of English,
as given under the Japanese final n, but it is important to note that all doubled consonants
take an extra unit of time in sounding.

50 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
In colloquial and provincial speech, the sounds of g, z, d, b are at times heard doubled.
H, r, DQGZDUHQHYHURFFXUGRXEOHG.
Combined Consonants
Other combinations of more than one consonant before a vowel are interposition of RUZ
between consonant and vowel. In other words, the consonants, k, g, s, z, ts, n, h, b, p, m,
or r maSUHFHGHa, XRUo. Likewise k or g maSUHFHGHZD7KHVHVRXQGVDUHZULWWHQ
in various waV b different sVWHPV of Romaji, as seen in European books on Oriental
sounds bGLIIHUHQWDXWKRUV6RPHRIWKHPDUHVKRZQEHORZ:
KD kia, kja, chia, quia; kX kiu, kju, chiu, quiu; kR kio, kjo, chio; gD gia, ghia;
gXJLXJMXJKLXJo, gio, gjo, ghio; sha, sDVLDVFKDVKXVu, sju, schu; sho, sRVLR
scho; ja, zD]LDGVLDG]KDMX]u, zhu, dzhu; jo, zR]KRGVLRGVKRFKDWVa, tscha;
chu, tsXWVFKXFKRWVo, tsio, tscho; nDQLDQu, niu; nRQLRKa, hia, hja; hXKLX
hRKLRKMREa, bia, bja; bXELXEo, bio, bjo; pDSLDSu, piu; pRSLRPa, miu;
mXPLXPo, mio; rDULDUu, riu; rRULRNZDNXDJZDJXD.
Fortunatel most of these variant spelling went out of use, except perhaps the proper
names as TokR7RNLR.oto, Kioto, etc. China is still in chaos in this respect, as more
than a dozen authors still publish romanized Chinese in their own sVWHPV.
The pronunciation of combined consonants should be a simple matter when one
understands the following directions. The consonants k, g, s, z, etc., are to be sounded as
given in chapter on Japanese consonants and the rest of the sOODEOH is to be pronounced
as Du, RRUZDDVWKHFDVHPD be, being careful to combine the initial consonant to it
intimatelVRWKDWQRH[WUDWLPHLVFRQVXPHGWKHUHE\.
Variation in Sounds
Since there are no rules of pronunciation or system of sound teaching ever incorporated in
Japanese educational curriculum, owing partly to the extreme simplicity of Japanese vowels
and consonants, and also to the fact that there exists a considerable distance between any two
nearest Japanese vowels, resulting in a wide range to any one of vowels which is allowed. It
is of natural sequence that a wide variety of quality of Japanese vowels and to some extent of
consonants, maRFFXUZLWKRXWDURXVLQJDQ notice bWKHQDWLYe Japanese ears.
These variations maEHFDWHJRULFDOO divided into four kinds, namelWKDWZKLFKLVGXH
to time, to individual, to provincialitDQGWRFLUFXPVWDQFHV.
Variation According to Time
As has been pointed out elsewhere, there is no mode of exactly recording sounds of the
Japanese language, it is extremelKDUGWRVWXG variation in Japanese sounds at different
ages. But changes in sounds in time is the qualitRIDQ living language, there is no doubt
that changes are occuring in sounds of the Japanese language.
From the fact that some documents of the 16th CenturFRQFHUQLQJ-DSDQ SUHVHUYHGLQ
Europe) contains names such as Nangasaki, Amanguchi, etc., it maEHVXUPLVHGWKDWWKH
nasalized g or ng sound must have been heard in western Japan at former times. For some
recent changes, see Chapter XV on early Japanese sounds.

Japanese Consonants 51
Individualism and Provincialism
Personal difference in wideness, narrowness, highness, lowness, openness and closeness,
etc., of vowels constitutes the individualism. Variations in consonant qualities, semi-
vocalized aspects and sibilants occur in different localities, too numerous to mention.
Some of the conspicous ones are nasalized g in not initial sOODEOHV heard in Kwanto
region; tongue trill r of Yedo people; doubling of vocalized explosives in Satsuma speech;
f like character of h sound in Izumo, Hoki, etc.; closeness of all vowels in northern Japan;
distinct w sound before i, e, o, in KXKVKXK7Rama, Niigata, etc.
Circumstantial Variations
Foreigners learning Japanese, or foreign born children of Japanese, who are fast increasing
in number usually learn elements of non-Japanese language prior to that of Japanese; put
foreign foreign influence to Japanese consonants. Their sounds of Japanese f, j, y, w, r, ch,
sh, etc,, are patterned to some European sounds (mostl(QJOLVK :KHQOHDUQLQJ-DSDQHVH
they do not appreciate the slight but fundamental difference in construction of the Japanese
consonants named. The results are, these people almost invariablSURQRXQFe
f with distinct teeth-lip friction instead of a soft blow between lips.
j with distinctlSXFNHUHGOLSV.
VRGLVWLQFWO that it maEHKHDUGHYHQEHIRUHHRUL.
w so strong with rounding of lips as to be heard before i, u, e, o,
r from tongue molded varietRI(QJOLVKWRXYXODUIULFWLYHRI)UHQFK*HUPDQ.
ch with distinctlSXFNHUHGOLSVLQVWHDGRILQGLIIHUHQWSRVLWLRQRIOLSV.
sh with distinctlSXFNHUHGOLSVLQVWHDGRILQGLIIHUHQWSRVLWLRQ.

CHAPTER XII
ROMAJI
Thus far we have considered the true Japanese sounds in reference to English sounds. Now
we are in position to consider the Romaji, the foreign stOHRIZULWLQJ-DSDQHVHODQJXDrge.
The histor of Romaji dates back to the 16th Century, when Francis Xavier came to
Japan to preach Christian doctrine. Dutch and Portuguese merchants also frequented
Japanese shores for the purpose of trade in those daV6RPHERRNVKDYHEHHQSXEOLVKHGLQ
the Japanese language written in European characters.
The modern Romaji owes its origin to Rev. Dr. J.C.Hepburn, who practiced medicine
along side of him missionar work in Japan during earl HDUV of Meipi. He wrote a
Japanese-English dictionary, in which romanized Japanese were used, and published it in
or about the HDU$'+HLVSUREDEO among the first to teach Japanese how to write
Romaji. Keio Gijuku, founded b<XNLFKL)XNX]DZDDOVRSXEOLVKHGVKRUWO after a guide
for writing romanized Japanese.
Romaji is the name given to all sVWHPVRIZULWLQJWKH-DSDQHVHODQJXDJHZLWKFRQVRQDQWV
with English sounds. Romaji of Hepburn tSH is the kind introduced b Dr. Hepburn, in
his dictionary.
The name “Romaji” itself is probabl of his own creation. Although various other
sVWHPVKDYHEHHQFUHDWHGDQGDGYRFDWHGVRPHWDNLQJSDWWHUQWR(QJOLVKRWKHUV*HUPDQ
French, etc., none of them had enough followers to make the new sVWHPSDUDPRXQWRYHU
Hepburns. Some went to suggest Capitalization of nouns as in German. Others suggested
new rules on division of words and punctuation, etc. But the most widelDFFHSWHG+HSEXUQV
sVWHPVWLOOUHPDLQVWKRXJKVRPHPRGLILFDWLRQVZHUHLQHYLWDEOH.
The following is the modern Romaji generallXVHGQHDUO corresponding to the original
Hepburn.

a i u e o
ka ki ku ke ko
sa shi su se so
ta chi tsu te to
na ni nu ne no
ha hi fu he ho
ma mi mu me mo
ya yu yo
ra ri ru re ro
wa
n
ga gi gu ge go

Romaji 53

za ji zu ze zo
da de do
ba bi bu be bo
pa pi pu pe po

ka ku ko
sha shu sho
cha chu cho
nya nyu nyo
hya hyu hyo
mya myu myo
rya ryu ryo
gya gyu gyo
ja ju jo
bya byu byu
pya pyu pyo
These hundred sOODEOHVDQGRQHILQDOQDUHDOOWKDWLVQHFHVVDU in writing Japanese, except
the occasional doubling of consonants. Consonants which can be doubled are k, s, t, n, m,
and p. Other consonants h, y , r, w, g, z, j, d, and be are never doubled When necessarWR
double the consonantal sound ch, the spelling tch is used. Likewise ssh is used for doubling
of sh.
The length of vowels in Romaji is modified or prolonged b addition of a dash or
circumflex over such vowels. In this work as well as in author’s “DictionarRI-DSDQHVH
Characters,” h after a vowel is substituted for a dash or a circumflex over it, to serve the
purpose of showing that such vowel is to be sounded twice as long.
Heretofore it was common to omit the dash or circumflex over vowels whenever such
a tSH in print is not available. It ma be suggested here, that the h after an vowel be
regarded as equivalent and interchangeable with a dash or circumflex over the vowel,
much in the same fashion as Germans use e after a or o and consider it to be equivalent
and interchangeable with an “Umlaut” mark or two dots over such vowels. In this case, if
a vowel comes after such h in the same word, a hSKHQEHWZHHQWKHKDQGWKHYRZHOZLOO
prevent the error of attaching the h to the vowel.
Romanized Kana
The number of Romaji sOODEOHVLVEXWWKHQXPEHURINDQDFKDUDFWHUVLVLQFOXGLQJ
25 modified kana. These discrepancies can be explained bWKHIDFWWKDW5RPDMLUHSUHVHQWV
Japanese sounds and the kana is a set of written characters. It is obvious that in referring

54 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
to kana characters, Romaji cannot be readilXVHG+HQFHWKHQHFHVVLW of improvising the
Romanized kana or alphabetical representation of written kana. TheDUH:

a i u e o
ka ki ku ke ko
sa si su se so
ta ti tu te to
na ni nu ne no
ha hi hu he ho
ma mi mu me mo
ya yu yo
ra ri ru re ro
wa wi we wo
n
ga gi gu ge go
za zi zu ze zo
da di du de do
ba bi bu be bo
pa pi pu pe po
Among the above, wi, we, wo, di, du are pronounced like i, e, o, zi, zu respectivel in
modern Japanese pronounciation, making sixtHLJKWGLIIHUHQWVRXQGVLQDOO6RPHWLPHVK
is sounded like w and LVVLOHQW7KHUHDGHUVDUHUHIHUUHGWR-DSDQHVHRUWKRJUDSK ( chapter
xiv ) for further details of these sound changes.
Japanese System of Romaji
Among man different sVWHPV of Romaji rendering of Japanese language, there is one
which is called the Japanese sVWHP which although is nearl as old in its histor as the
ordinar tSH did not occup a prominent place until recently, when its advocators are
nearl successful in making various official bodies connected with ministries of army,
navy, education, and communication adopt this sVWHPRIILFLDOO\.
Characters of this sVWHPDUHLGHQWLFDOZLWKWKHURPDQL]HGNDQDJLYHQLQWKHIRUHJRLQJ
section. Although one who is familiar with the ordinarRU+HSEXUQVstem of romaji can
easilUHDGWKH-DSDQHVHVstem, as the alterations are limited to onlDIHZFKDUDFWHUVWKH
real difference is fundamental. The Hepburn sVWHP is based on the sounds heard, while
the Japanese sVWHP is based on written kana, except in compounds, As far as individual
kana characters are concerned the latter sVWHPLVDQH[FHOOHQWRQHWRSHUSHWXDWH-DSDQHVH
orthography.

Romaji 55
As will be pointed out later in the chapter on Japanese orthography, the trouble in
correct use of kana lies in the absence of eH training; the Japanese sVWHP will be able
to solve this problem b constantl presenting before the eHV the correct kana spelling.
But the Japanese sVWHP goes onl half wa in solving the problem of orthography, as it
uses compounds nearl equal to those of Hepburn sVWHP If it were aimed to reveal all
the secrets of correct use of kana, the Japanese sVWHPVKRXOGKDYHSXUVXHGWKHSROLF of
separating compounds into their component parts, for instance: Choh (meaning long) as
ti-a-u; choh (heav DVWLo-u; choh (morning) as te-u; choh (butterfl DVWHKXHWF.
Japanese orthographZRXOGVRRQHURUODWHUSDVVLQWRKLVWRULFDOREOLYLRQ6WLOOLWZRXOG
be a hard thing to throw off what we are used to have all at once. The Japanese sVWHP
would be the most appropriate thing, for the present, to be used for romanizing the Japanese
language, as it teaches to a certain extent the secret of Japanese orthography .
Because of the fact that those who know Hepburn sVWHP of Romaji can easil read
an writing in Japanese sVWHP of Romaji and vice versa, we do not see an reason wh
advocators on either side should oppose each other so, pointing out defects of the other
sVWHP and urging the general adoption of their own. The might as well cooperate in
making the nation understand the importance of throwing off the RNHRI.DQMLDQGWDNLQJ
up the simpler sVWHPVXFKDVNDQDRU5RPDMLRIHLWKHU-DSDQHVH+HSEXUQVstem. Even
kana sVWHPLIGLYLVLRQRIZRUGVZHUHPDGHLQWKHVDPHPDQQHUDVWKDWRI5RPDMLZRXOG
certainlPDNHDJUHDWLPSURYHPHQWRYHU.DQML.
Considering the difference or distance between kanji on one hand and kana or
Romaji of an sVWHP on the other, the difference in construction of kana and Romaji is
so insignificantl small, that the adherents of kana and Romaji sVWHPV should find no
difficulties in cooperation toward their common object of throwing kanji off the sphere of
Japanese language.
The most important point which needs emphasis is that kana or Romaji spelling of
words should be brought before the eHV frequentl enough to make them as familiar as
kanji of toda and onl then the real merits of kana or Romaji over kanji ma be made
manifest.
Efforts necessarWROHDUQDOOWKHVHVstems namelNDQD5RPDMLRI+HSEXUQWpe and
that of Japanese sVWHPZRXOGEHLQVLJQLILFDQWLIFRPSDUHGWRWKDWQHHGHGWROHDUQNDQML
If advocators of these sVWHPV would hold a conference and stud the best methods of
division of words, punctuation, capitalization, adoption of omission of certain words etc.,
and would unite their efforts toward driving kanji out of popular use, instead of finding each
other’s faults, and teach all three sVWHPVVLPXOWDQHRXVO\WKH would certainlEHUHZDUGHG
with much earlier success. As to the comparative merits of the three sVWHPVWLPHZRXOG
be the sole judge. In course of a few HDUVRIDFWXDOXVHWKHEHVWRIWKHWKUHHZLOOVXUYLYH
the rest, or else each would find its respective place of adaptabilit and usefulness; for
example, kana and Hepburn sVWHP in literature and science, and the Japanese sVWHP in
commercial world.
Kanji maEHUHVHUYHGIRUKLJKHUJUDGHRIOHDUQLQJLQWKHVDPHOLQHDV6DQVNULW+HEUHZ
Greek or Latin todaDUHVWXGLHGLQKLJKVFKRROVDQGFROOHJHV.
The sOODEOHV of Japanese sVWHP of Romaji are almost the same as Romanized kana
given on page 84, in addition to which following sOODEOHVDUHXVHGIRUFRPELQHGVRXQGV.

56 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

ka ku ko
sya syu syo
tya tyu tyo
nya nyu nyo
hya hyu hyo
mya myu myo
rya ryu ryo
gya gyu gyo
zya zyu zyo
dya dyu dyo
bya byu byo
pya pyu pyo

CHAPTER XIII
ACCENTS AND STRESSES
Speech in anODQJXDJHLVQRWDPRQRWRQRXVVXFFHVVLRQRIZRUGV$SDUWRIDFHUWDLQZRUG
the whole word or a group of words is uttered more forciblWKDQRWKHUVWKDWLVDFFHQWHG
or stressed.
For the sake of clearness in explanation the word “stress” is here meant to represent the
more forcible utterance of a word or a group of words, and the word “accent” to represent
the more forcible utterance of a sOODEOHLQDZRUG.
In most of European languages including English, French, German, Spanish, etc., the
stress is laid on a word or words, where the meaning is to be brought more conspicuously.
Take an example in English:
The book is on the table.—The book (not the magazine).
The book is on the table.—It is there, now.
The book is on the table.—On, not below the table.
The book is on the table .—On the table, not on the desk,
Here the words in bold tSHV are pronounced full in louder tone and at higher pitch,
usuallPRUHVORZO\.
In the same manner, in other European languages, as well as in Japanese language, the
stress on words is laid to bring out the meaning above others.
It seems that the use of stress on important words in speech is universal in anODQJXDJH
and the Japanese is no exception to the rule. Therefore no further comment is necessary.
Accents on Syllables
When one pronounces a sOODEOH more forcibl than others, the pitch of voice is raised
slightly. This is of natural consequence, as when more force is used in utterance, more air
tends to escape, the vocal cords are involuntarilQDUURZHGLQWKHLUXQFRQVFLRXVHIIRUWVWR
prevent too rapid escape of air. The result is the raising of pitch, accompanied b more
force and loudness.
The accent is the raising of pitch and force, so that the sOODEOH accented stands out
over others. Accents in some language are more in pitch than the force, while in others it
is opposite.
The general pitch of voice of one person is different from that of another person, when
the size of the larQ[DQGYRFDOFRUGVGLIIHUVRUWKHGLVWDQFHRIYRFDOFRUGVIURPWKHPRXWK
varies or when both of these variations occur together. This is whWKHYRLFHRIZRPHQLV
higher than that of men, or the voice of children is higher than that of adults. This general
or natural pitch of voice has nothing to do with accents.
The accent is the raising of pitch and force on a particular sOODEOH above the level of
adjacent sOODEOHVVRWKDWWKHVllable accented stands out over others.

58 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Accents in European Languages
Various consonants or vowels of English language for instance, have natural pitch of
different levels. The more closed the air passage, the sound is sharper. The natural pitch of
consonants beginning from the highest will be in the order of s, ts, th, f, sh (ch), t, k, p, and
of vowels i, e, u, o, a (in short sounds). But these natural or inherent pitches of vowels or
consonants are not considered in this work.
In English or German languages, accents on sOODEOHV are given in dictionaries. In
French, there exists a general rule to accentuate the last full vowel of a word. In Spanish
all vowels to be accented are so marked. Places of accents seem to be peculiar to each
language. It is found that the words of same Latin or Greek root, finding places in English,
German, French or Spanish languages do not have accents on same sOODEOHVWKXV:
English German
com′rade ka-me-rad′
phot′o-graph pho-to-graph′
o′ver-come ue-ber-kom′men
English French
lect′ure lec-ture′
mo′ment mo-ment′
in′fant en-fant′
English Spanish
en-coun′ter en-con-trar′
man′ner ma-ne′ra
French Spanish
coe′ur co-ra-zon′
e′sto-mac e-sto′ma-go
Importance of Accents
Each word in most European languages has a definite accent; whereas in Japanese language
the situation is entirely different. There is no definite accent on any of the syllables of a
Japanese word. No mention is ever made of the accent in anRI-DSDQHVHERRNVQRUGRHV
anRIWKHERRNVLQ(QJOLVKIRUWKHLQVWUXFWLRQRI-DSDQHVHODQJXDJHJLYHDQ light on the
subject.
A successful acquirement of an foreign language lies in getting correct accents on
sOODEOHV and right stress on words as the natives are accustomed to do. The Japanese
language lacks entirel in guide to accentuation. It is left to the discretion of a speaker.
Hence it often varies according to the individual or locality. It maDOVRKDYHFKDQJHGZLWK
the time. It again varies according to the situation of a word in a sentence.
Therefore no hard and fast rules as to accentuation in Japanese words are possible. Still
there is a general usage to accent a certain sOODEOH of a word. If a majorit of educated
Japanese people give accent to a certain sOODEOH in a given word, it ma be given to

Accents and Stresses 59
posterit as a record of what is heard at the present age, at the same time to serve as a
guide for learners from outside, including thousands of foreign-born children of Japanes
parentage, whose tendencies are to create a new departure from correct Japanese speech,
and who are alreadIRUPLQJDVRUWRIIRUHLJQL]HG-DSDQHVH.
It becomes necessar to mark Japanese accents, which are different from those of
English or other European languages in manZDs, and therefore require a new method.
Peculiarity of Japanese Accents
Following are the points of difference of Japanese accents from European accents:
1. Two or more sOODEOHVPD take accents in succession.
2. Long vowels are composed of two time units. Each unit ma take an accent independent of the
other.
3. Final n or isolated consonants, as the first element of doubled consonant, maWDNHDQDFFHQW.
The first step in marking accents is to divide words into sOODEOHV.
Since there is no precedent in sOODEOL]DWLRQRI-DSDQHVHZRUGVDQDUELWUDU division of
words into the time units is resorted to, and the following simple rules thereto are made.
Rules of sOODEOL]DWLRQRI-DSDQHVHZRUGV:
1. All short vowels make one sOODEOH.
2. All long vowels make two sOODEOHV.
3. All consonantal sounds preceding a vowel are attached to the vowel without additional
syllable.
4. Final n forms a separate sOODEOH
5. First element of doubled consonants form a separate syllable.
Examples for above, if the sOODEOHVDUHGLYLGHGZLWKKphens
1. a-o-i, e-i-se-i
2. o-h,ki-i, tsu-h-ko-h
3. ka-sa-ne-ru, cha-ku-ji-tsu
4. sen-n-ke-n, shi-m-bu-n
5. ga-k-ko-h, ze-t-ta-i-te-ki
Majorit of educated Japanese toda would pronounce words of above examples in the
manner described below:
Accent on the second sOODEOHIRUDRLFKDNXMLWVX.
Accents on the second, third and fourth sOODEOHV for e-i-se-i, tsu-u-ko-h, ka-sa-ne-ru,
se-n-ke-n, shi-m-bu-n, ga-k-koh.
Accents on the second and third sOODEOHVIRURKNLL.
Accents on all sOODEOHVH[FHSWWKHILUVWIRU]HWWDLWHNL.
It is obvious that the usual accent mark’ would not answer the purpose of indicating
more than one sOODEOHLQVXFFHVVLRQSURQRXQFHGZLWKKLJKHUSLWFKWKDQWKHUHVW.
The first attempt in giving accents to Japanese words has been therefore made b the
author in his dictionar of Japanese characters published in 1928, in which hSKHQV of
higher and lower levels were used to represent higher and lower pitches of tone. A few
examples taken from that dictionar are here given merel to show how effective the
are in giving time units or sOODEOHVDQGWKRVHZKLFKDUHWREHDFFHQWHGRUSURQRXQFHGLQ

60 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
higher pitch.
KohgRK ( ----); XKZDNX ( ----); tsutomu (- --); renmen (- ---); teikoku ( ----); dohri (- --);
kenri ( ---); akiraka (- ---).
For other examples, the readers are referred to the Dictionar of Japanese Characters,
which gives similar kind of accents to more than 7000 Japanese words.
B the way, this new method of marking accents with short horizontal bars, will be
handy to indicate the more minute details of English accents. The author uses this system
in noting the pitch changes within a sOODEOHRIVKRUWZRUGVDVKHDUGLQFROORTXLDO(QJOLVK
thus: HV" - -), HV( --), no? (- -), no! ( --), huh? ( --), huh? (- -), oh (- -), oh ( --), old ( ----), etc.
Elision of Vowels
In quick speech, certain unaccented vowels become so weak that the voice is suppressed
and the breathing alone remains. It does not however mean that the vowel is omitted
altogether. It is uttered without voice or vibration of vocal cord, similar to a whisper. This
peculiarit is confined to an unaccented vowel after aspirate consonants. Some former
writers expressed this kind of elision of sound bDQDSRVWURSKH Thus:
H’to (hito), h’tots’ (hitotsu), arimash’ta (arimashita), chak’chak’ (chakuchaku), teikok’
(teikoku), arimas’ (arimasu).

CHAPTER XIV
JAPANESE ORTHOGRAPHY
As has been mentioned in the chapter of kana, there are 48 characters of kana and 25
modifications thereof b addition of dots or circles. Among these, there are five pairs of
homophonous kana, besides the five which have dual sounds. This makes the number of
different sounds which ma be written with kana 68. Use is also made of two kinds of
repeating signs and one prolonging sign but these have no relation to sounds of kana.
There are 101 single sounds in spoken Japanese, which maEHZULWWHQLQ5RPDML.DQD
is quite inadequate to write all these sounds. Recourse is therefore made to substitutes of
two or three kana characters combined. As there is no special signs for combining, kana
characters are written one after another, so that the could be read either combined or
separately.
In some cases, several different combinations are possible for or one sound. These facts
together with the presence of five homophonous pairs of kana and five kana with dual
sounds, necessitate rules for correct use of kana of “kanazukai” or Japanese orthography.
“Kanazukai” is divided into two sections, namel that which applies to sounds of of
characters and the other which treats of correct use of kana in writing Japanese language
proper. These are called “Jion Kanazukai” and “Kokugo Kanazukai” respectively.
There are proper books of instruction for correct use of kana. The students are referred
to one of Japanese grammars. In this work, which does not aim to give instructions in
this direction, are given a few examples, merelIRUWKHSXUSRVHRIVKRZLQJWKDW-DSDQHVH
students are required to learn to write for or a given word one particular kana and not
another although of same sound.
In the following table “Jion” and “Kokugo” orthograph are given mixed. The first
column gives characters or words. The second column the correct kana, the third column,
Romanized kana, the fourth column the sounds in Romaji.

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

i i

wi i

hi i

i-tu itsu

wi-tu itsu

62 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

i ki iki

wi ki iki

i n in

wi n in

e e

we e

he e

e i ei

we i ei

e-tu etsu

we-tu etsu

e n en

we n en

o o

wo o

ho o

a u oh

a hu oh

o u oh

wo u oh

wa u oh

Japanese Orthography 63

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

o ku oku

wo ku oku

o-tu otsu

wo-tu otsu

o n on

wo n on

ka ka

ku wa ka

ka u koh

ka hu koh

ko hu koh

ko u koh

ku wa u koh

ka-i kai

ku-wa-i kai

ka-ku kaku

ku-wa-ku kaku

ka-tu katsu

ku-wa- tu katsu

ka-n kan

ku-wa-n kan

64 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

ki-Du kRh

ki-Ru kRh

ke-u kRh

ke-hu kRh

ki-u kXh

ki-hu kXh

ki-Xu kXh

ga ga

gu-wa ga

ga-i gai

gu-wa-i gai

ga-n gan

gu-wa-n gan

gi-ya-u gyoh

gi-yo-u gyoh

ge-u gyoh

ge-hu gyoh

sa-u soh

sa-hu soh

so-u soh

Japanese Orthography 65

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

si-ya-u shoh

si-yo-u shoh

se-u shoh

se-hu shoh

si-u shuh

si-hu shuh

si-yu-u shuh

zi-ya ja

di-ya ja

zi-DNu jaku

di-DNu jaku

zi ji

di ji

zi-ki jiki

di-ki jiki

zi-ku jiku

di-ku jiku

zi-tu jitsu

di-tu jitsu

zi-n jin

di-n jin

66 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

zi-yu ju

di-yu ju

zi-yu-tu jutsu

di-yu-tu jutsu

zi-yo jo

di-yo jo

zi-ya-u joh

zi-yo-u joh

ze-u joh

ze-hu joh

di-ya-u joh

di-yo-u joh

de-u joh

de-hu joh

zi-RNu joku

di-RNu joku

zi-u juh

zi-hu juh

zi-yu-u juh

di-yu-u juh

Japanese Orthography 67

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

zu zu

du zu

zu-wi zui

du-wi zui

za-u zoh

za-hu zoh

zo-u zoh

ta-u toh

to hu toh

to-u toh

ti-ya-u choh

ti-yo-u choh

te-u choh

te-hu choh

ti-u chuh

ti-hu chuh

ti-yu-u chuh

na-u noh

na-hu noh

no-u noh

68 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

ni-yo-u nyoh

ne-hu nyoh

ne-u nyoh

ni-u nyuh

ni-hu nyuh

ni-yu-u nyuh

ha-u hoh

ha-hu hoh

ho-u hoh

ho-hu hoh

he-u hyoh

hi-ya-u hyoh

hi-yo-u hyoh

ba-u boh

bo-u boh

ba-hu boh

bo-hu boh

be-u byoh

bi-ya-u byoh

ma-u moh

mo-u moh

mi-ya-u myoh

me-u myoh

Japanese Orthography 69

Characters or Words Correct Kana Romanized Kana Actual Sounds

u yu

hu yu

yu yu

i-u yuh

yu-u yuh

i-hu yuh

yu-hu yuh

yo-u yoh

ya-u yoh

e-u yoh

e-hu yoh

ra-u roh

ra-hu roh

ro-u roh

ri-ya-u ryoh

ri-yo-u ryoh

re-u ryoh

re-hu ryoh

ri-u ryuh

ri-hu ryuh

ri-yu-u ryuh

ha wa

wa wa

70 The Phonetics of Japanese Language
Difficulties of Japanese Orthography
In English language, spelling lessons occup a large portion of primar school language
lessons. The knowledge acquired from these lessons is strengthened as pupils advance,
as the correct examples present themselves in dail reading of books, magazines or
newspapers.
The situation in Japanese orthographLVTXLWHGLIIHUHQWIURPWKDWRI(QJOLVK,WLVWUXH
that in primar schools, Japanese children are taught correct use of kana, but it covers
rudiments onl in most cases. As the advance, however, the Kanji or ideographic script
occupies most of the pupil’s time. The more the advance, the more the learn difficult
Kanji and see less of kana. The difficulties of Japanese orthograph lie in lack of eH
training, which for example in English language automaticall fortifies the spelling
knowledge acquired in primarVFKRROV.
Hence the rules of Japanese orthographUHPDLQVDOZDs difficult, and it is the domain
of the verOHDUQHGPHQRQO\.
Movements to remed the difficult of Japanese orthograph appeared from time to
time during last fiftears. Some of these movements were made bFRPPLWWHHDSSRLQWHG
b the Department of Education. Various forms and simplification of “kanazukai” or the
use of kana have been suggested. Men who are more or less in higher level of Japanese
education opposed these new departures.
The latest suggestion b the committee for the investigation of Japanese language
appointed bWKH0LQLVWHURI(GXFDWLRQJLYHVZKDWLVFDOOHG+DWVXRQVKLNL.DQD]XNDLRU
phonetic orthography, in which all difficulties of Japanese orthographDUHHQWLUHO removed.
But it is a question whether this new sVWHPZLOOHYHUPHHWWKHJHQHUDODSSURYDO.
In transcribing foreign words or names in kana, it is the modern usage to use a dash after
anNDQDWRVHUYHWKHSXUSRVHRISURORQJLQJWKHVRXQGRIWKHNDQD The dash maEHXVHG
verticallRUKRUL]RQWDOO as the case maUHTXLUH7KXV:

It seems that the practice of using a dash mixed with kana in transcribing foreign sounds as
illustrated above met the general sanction, perhaps through lack of better method.
If the insistence of kana adherents would have its waDQGWKHGDs will come when the
kana writing replaces kanji altogether, the orthographicallFRUUHFWNDQDVSHOOLQJZRXOGEH
universallOHDUQHGLQDVKRUWWLPH7KHQWKHGLIILFXOWLHVRI-DSDQHVHRUWKRJUDSK would be
entirelGLVSHOOHGDQGIRUJRWWHQDVWKH are nothing if compared to the spelling in English
language. All one would have to do is to memorize a couple of hundred kana combinations
while in English it would amount to manWKRXVDQGV.
To illustrate the above points: if English language would adopt certain characters or
signs for words like girl, school, high, low, pleasure, belief, manHWFDQGWKHVHVSHOOLQJ
were verVHOGRPVHHQLQSULQWRUZULWLQJIRUDSHULRGRIVHYHUDOFHQWXULHVWKHGLIILFXOW of
English orthographQRGRXEWZRXOGEHPRUHWKDQWHQIROGWKDWRI-DSDQHVHRUWKRJUDSKy .

CHAPTER XV
EARLY JAPANESE SOUNDS
We have no adequate records of Japanese sounds which had been in use centuries ago.
But from the fact act that the rules of orthograph insists use of one particular kana and
not another in a given word, or one particular combination of kana and not another for a
given word, we can surmise that the sounds have not been for all ages the same in these
instances.
VarietLQZDs of writing makes us presume the corresponding varietLQVRXQGVZKLFK
at some former times had existed. One minor change, quite fittinglLOOXVWUDWLQJWKLVSRLQW
has actually occurred in the last fifty years.
The sounds kwa and gwa were distinguished from ka and ga in sounds as well as in
writing, during the earlears of Meiji. Today, the distinction is observed in writing only.
The popular sounds are the same now in both cases, that is kwa and gwa are pronounced
like ka and ga.
The following table illustrates them.

Characters Kana Sounds 50 Years Ago Sounds At Present

ka ka

kwa ka

ga ga

gwa ga

kai kai

kwai kai

gai gai

gwai gai

kaku kaku

kwaku kaku

72 The Phonetics of Japanese Language

katsu katsu

kwatsu katsu

gatsu gatsu

gwatsu gatsu

kan kan

kwan kan

gan gan

gwan gan
So the difference in sounds of fift HDUV ago, in above given instances became lost and
now the rules of orthographDORQHUHPDLQ,IDOORWKHUUXOHVRI-DSDQHVHRUWKRJUDSK were
remains of originallGLIIHUHQWLDWHGVRXQGVDVVRPHDXWKRULWLHVDVVHUWWKHQLWPD be said
that the Japanese sounds have tendencies of becoming simplified.
One kanji having present pronunciation of oh and requiring to be wa-u if written in
kana, has been until recentlXQLYHUVDOO used for wa sound, and that is

This fortifies the opinion that the diversit in kana writing means the corresponding
diversitLQVRXQGVIRUPHUO\.
The reason wh-DSDQHVHVRXQGVWHQGWRGULIWWRZDUGWKHVLPSOHVWLQVSLWHRIWKHUXOHVRI
orthographLVTXLWHREYLRXV-DSDQHVHKDYHQRSKRQHWLFVRUVFLHQFHRIVSHHFKVRXQGV7KH
mode of producing sounds or pronunciation is left entirelWRWKHQDWXUDOFRXUVHLWPD take.
Among illiterates, such sounds with slight phonetic difference as shin, shun; chin, chun;
jin, jun; are already becoming confused in actual speech.
If it keeps on going at this rate, all sOODEOHVHQGLQJLQ un maEHFRPHFRQIXVHGZLWK
that ending in in, so that at some future time, the difference in sounds between un and
in ma be historical and not actual, as are the rules of Japanese orthograph today, who
knows?
Influence of Romaji on Sounds
Popular Romaji spelling of jujitsu, Shinyo Maru, etc., are not correct Japanese sounds.
They should be spelled juhjutsu, Shun-yoh Maru, if correct sounds of todaDUHZULWWHQ
These examples show that the Romaji spelling maLQIOXHQFHFKDQJHRI-DSDQHVHVRXQGV.
Japanese children born in America can utter sounds as yi, ye, wi, we, wu, wo, with
no difficulty, The pronounce H in such names as InouH UHGD etc,, as eas as H in
HV/LNHZLVHILQVXFKZRUGVDVIXUXLIXNDLHWFLVSURQRXQFHGZLWKUHJXODUWHHWKOLSI
instead of regular Japanese f with lips approached. Under the same categorFRPHDOVRM
sh, ch, r, etc.

Early Japanese Sounds 73
Germans sa Yapan when written Japan. Some Europeans pronounce Jokohama for
Yokohama, Jeddo for Yedo (Japanese pronunciation is Edo). Capital I and J are identical
in German. Phoneticall J and Y are nearl the same, the difference being chiefl in the
force of utterance.
Thus it will be seen that the Romaji to some measure contributes to the alteration of
Japanese sounds.
General Remarks
During the last 1500 HDUVRIWLPH-DSDQHVHVRXQGVDUHVHHQWREHXQGHUJRLQJSKRQHWLF
decaRI0D[0OOHU:HWRRN,QIURP&KLQDRYHUILYHKXQGUHGGLIIHUHQWVRXQGVDQGQRZ
we have a little over three hundred. Even during last half century, we are in process of
losing still more sounds.
On the other hand, new terms coined after Meiji restoration to keep pace with world
progress, together with imported and popularized foreign words added to the Japanese
vocabulary, are so numerous that theRFFXS fullQLQHW per cent of all Japanese words
in dail papers. It ma be said that the process of dialectical regeneration is now in full
swing.
Of course at former times also, new Japanese compounds had been created from time
to time according to the needs of the age, as are seen in older Japanese literature. But
at no time, it is believed, the coining of new terms and adaptation and incorporation of
foreign words into Japanese vocabular had been performed so much as during the last
fifty years.
Although announced as a book on Phonetics of Japanese Language, the real phonetics is
covered in onlWZRFKDSWHUVLQWKLVZRUNDQGRWKHUGR]HQRUPRUHFKDSWHUVDUHGHYRWHGWR
Japanese writing. This was a necessity, because an-DSDQHVHVRXQGLQRUGHUWRH[SODLQLWV
sound value, must be represented bRQHRIWKHWKUHHGLIIHUHQWPHWKRGVRIZULWLQJQDPHO
kanji which are characters imported from China, Japanese kana which are derived from
kanji, or Romaji which is Japanese language rendered in English characters. Relations
between kanji, kana and Romaji are so complicated that, in order to make it clear to
beginners, it had to take so manFKDSWHUVRIQRQSKRQHWLFPDWWHU<HWLWZLOOEHRIYDOXHWR
beginners in Japanese language, as thePD be helped to learn manIDFWVUHODWLQJWRWKRVH
three forms of writing.

ERRATA
It is unfortunate that in spite of utmost care which has been exercised during tSHVHWWLQJ
and printing the following following few errors have been found.

Page Line Wrong Correct
17 14 sound form
23 16 maru masu
33 1 to read kana to read bNDQa
35 15 grawichoh gwaichoh
37 2 fu hiao, fu hiao che,
40 5

58 3 teuse tense
71 8 (German, French) (English, German)
80 19 Meipi Meiji
81 12 Capitalization capitalization
86 30 Japanese Japanese or

GLOSSARY
Accent —Accent on a sOODEOH7KHDFFHQWRQDZRUGLVGHVLJQDWHGE stress in this work.
Chinese Character —Character or word sign consisting of one or more strokes limited with a square
space, originated and used in Chinese language. Japan is also using Chinese characters during
last 1500 HDUV.
Chinese Ideographic Script —Same as Chinese character.
Chinese Sounds —Sounds of Chinese characters as given in China. Also sounds of Chinese characters
as taught in Japan. The latter often differ from those heard in China, and HWWKH are known as
Chinese sounds because they are taught first by Chinese.
Chosenese Alphabet— A phonetic alphabet of Korea.
Classical Chinese —Pure Chinese composition consisting of Chinese characters only. Chinese read
it straight down, but Japanese read it according to Japanese grammar, hence necessitating reading
bJRLQJEDFNDQGIRUWK.
Fan Ts‘ieh —The mode of giving sounds to a character in Chinese dictionaries bIXUQLVKLQJLQLWLDO
consonant with one known character and the vowell and ending with another known character.
Furigana —Kana alongside Kanji to show how to read.
Fifty Sounds— Same as Gojuh-in.
Gojuh-in —(Literall fift sounds)—The name giv-en to the arrangement of kana characters in
phonetic order beginning with five vowels and nine different consonants, each of which combines
vowels.
Go-on —(Literall Wu-sound)—Sound of Chinese characters, Japan learned from Chinese during
Wu dynasty of China.
Hentai-gana —Hiragana in variant forms, much used during pre-Meiji era.
Hepburn System —A sVWHPRI5RPDMLLQWURGXFHGE Dr. J.C.Hepburn in his dictionarRI-DSDQHVH
language published in 1872.
Hiragana —A kind of kana, see under kana.
Honji —(Literall real character)—Chinese character with correct manner and number of strokes.
Chinese characters generallDUHDOVRNQRZQDV+RQMLLQFRQWUDVWWRNDQD.
Ideograph —Same as Chinese character.
Ideographic Script —Same as Chinese character.
In—Same as “on.”
I-ro-ha —The name given to the arrangement of kana characters in order of a poem supposed to have
been composed by Kohboh Daishi I-ro-ha is the first three letters of the
poem.
Japanese Orthography —Rules of using kana correctly.
Japanese Sounds of Kanji —Sounds given to Chinese characters b Japanese, according to the
meaning in Japanese language. (Same as kun, RPLRUUHDGLQJ $OVRRQRUNXQDVXVHGE
Japanese.
Japanese Syllabary —Same as kana. So named because kana consists of a vowel or consonant
followed bDYRZHO7KHRQO exception is n, which maSUHFHGHRUIROORZDYRZHO.
Japanese Sounds —Sounds in Japanese speech. Also sounds given b Japanese to Chinese
characters.
Japanese System of Romaji —Ramaji based on written kana, in contrast to that of Hepburn sVWHP
which is based on sounds of Japanese language.

76 Glossary

Jion-Kanazukai —A branch of Japanese orthography, which treats of correct use of kana in
expressing sounds of characters.
Kana —(Literall provisional name)—Japanese sOODEDU much simpler than Chinese characters,
each having onl one definite sound, although in combination some sounds change according
to the rules of Japanese orthography, There are two kinds of kana, namel “Katakana” and
“hiragana.” Katakana is derived from a part of Chinese character used phonetically. Hiragana is a
further abbreviated form from the grass stOHRIZULWLQJRIFKDUDFWHUXVHGSKRQHWLFDOOy .
Kanbun —Same as classical Chinese.
Kaeriten —Marks indicating how to read classical Chinese in order of Japanese grammar.
Kanamajiribun —A sentence or composition written with Chinese characters and kana mixed in
reading order.
Kanazukai —Same as Japanese orthography.
Kanji —(Literall+DQFKDUDFWHU 6DPHDV&KLQHVHFKDUDFWHU.
K‘anghi Tsz‘tien —(Literall K’anghi dictionar 7KH name of standard Chinese dictionary,
compiled during Ts‘ing dQDVW\.
Kan-on —(Literall+DQVRXQG 6RXQGRI&KLQHVHFKDUDFWHUVSUHYDOHQWGXULQJ+DQGnasty. The
greater part of sounds of Chinese characters learned by Japanese belongs
to Kan-on.
Katakana —A kind of kana. See under kana.
Koji —(LiterallREVROHWHFKDUDFWHU &KLQHVHFKDUDFWHUWKHIRUPRIZKLFKLVRXWRIGDWH.
Kojiki— (Literally : Records of ancient matters)—Earliest Japanese publication dated 712 A.D.
contains mWKRORJ and earliest histor of Japan. Written in Chinese mixed with Kanji used
phonetically.
Kokugo Kanazukai —A branch of Japanese orthograph which treats of correct use of kana in
Japanese language.
Kuan Hua —(LiterallRIILFLDOGLVFRXUVH 6DPHDV0DQGDULQ&KLQHVH.
Kun —(LiterallPHDQLQJ 0HDQLQJLQ-DSDQHVHODQJXDJHDWWDFKHGWRD&KLQHVHFKDUDFWHr .
Mandarin Chinese —Chinese dialect of north of Yang Tsz’ River, now used as the official language
of China.
Manyoh-gana —Chinese characters used phoneticall in Japan, i.e., Chinese characters emploHG
to write Japanese language, bPDNLQJXVHRIDVRXQGYDOXHRQO\UHJDUGOHVVRILQKHUHQWPHDQLQJ
of characters.
Man-yoh-shuh —(LiterallERRNRIPLOOLDUGOHDYHV $QDQWKRORJ of the most ancient poems of
the Japanese language. Dated about 760 A.D.
Min-on —(Literall Ming-sound)—Sounds of Chinese characters, Japan learned from Chinese of
Ming dynasty.
Norito —Shintoh rituals written with Chinese characters used literallDQGSKRQHWLFDOOy.
On —(LiterallVRXQG 6RXQGRI&KLQHVHFKDUDFWHUVDVOHDUQHGE Japan from China originally. It
is invariablPRQRVllabic in China, but in Japan final consonants aside from n or ng are followed
bDQRWKHUYRZHOPDNLQJGLVVllable in such instance.
Pre-Meiji Era —Time before the Meiji restoration (1868), when Japan opened doors to the world
commerce.
Reading —Same as RPL.
Romaji —Alphabetical transcription of Japanese language.
Romaji Systems —Hepburn and Japanese sVWHPVRI5RPDML.
Romanized Kana —Romaji representation of kana characters.
Romanized Japanese —Same as Romaji.
Ryakuji —Chinese character in abbreviated or contracted form, mostlXVHGLQKDQGZULWLQJ.
Seiji —(LiterallFRUUHFWFKDUDFWHU &KLQHVHFKDUDFWHUZLWKFRUUHFWPDQQHUDQGQXPEHURIVWURNHV
i.e. the same as the first meaning of Honji.

Glossary 77

Shing —(Literall voice)—Peculiar mode of intonation or breathing of Chinese sounds b which
Chinese distinguishes fine shades of sounds hardl possible for foreigners to master or even to
imitate. Japanese generallQHYHUDFTXLUHGHQRXJKRIVKLQJWRLQWURGXFHLWLQWRWKHLUODQJXDJH.
Shin-on —(Literall7VLQJVRXQG 6RXQGVRI&KLQHVHFKDUDFWHUV-DSDQOHDUQHGIURP&KLQHVHRI
Ts‘ing dQDVW\.
Shintoh —(LiterallWKHZDs of the Gods)—MWKRORJ and ancestor and nature worship of Japan,
existed before the introduction of Buddhism into Japan, and which still continues to exist in a
modified form.
Stress —Accent on words (the sense in which it is used in this work).
Toh-on —(Literall T‘ang sound)—Sounds of Chinese characters. Japan learned from Chinese of
T‘ang dQDVW\.
Wakun —Same as Kun.
Yomi —(LiterallUHDGLQJ 6DPHDV.XQ.
Zokuji —(Literall vulgar character)—Chinese character the form and strokes of which are in
popular use but regarded to be incorrect by learned people.

THE DICTIONARY OF “KANJI”
or Japanese Characters
With pronunciations, intonations, and definitions in English, especiallDGDSWHGIRUWKH
use of beginners.
3,500 Japanese characters defined. 7,000 compounds are given sounds, accents and
explanations in English.
Indispensable for student of Japanese language.
8vo., cloth, pp. 232. 1928. 17s 6d
($3.50 in U.S.A.)
The Science Society
310 N.Hewitt St., Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.A.
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd.
38, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1.
WORKS CONSULTED
Sacred Books and Earl/LWHUDWXUHRIWKH(DVt
EnzNORSDHGLVFKHV:RHUWHUEXFK0XUHW6DQGHUs
Modern Philolog'ZLJKt
Life and Growth of Language ..................Whitney
Principles of Speech ....................................Bell
Japanese Etymology .........................................Imbrie
Primer of Phonetics ..........................................Sweet
Elements of French Pronunciation ..............Broussard
Notes on Syllabic Consonants ............................Bell
Sounds of R ...........................................Bell
Faults of Speech ...........................................Bell
Webster’s International Dictionary

78 Glossary
Standard Dictionary
Century Dictionary
EncFORSHGLD%ULWDQQLFDWKWKWKHGLWLRQs
Encyclopedia Americana
French Pronunciation and Diction ......................Jack
Things Japanese ....................................Chamberlain
Gile’s Dictionary of Chinese Language