One of the biggest factors in fluency is how to pronounce Japanese words correctly. Literally it is one of the biggest overlooked areas of improving ones Japanese. Many focus so heavily on Japanese grammar, correct particle usage, compound verbs and slang use way too much in the beginning phase of learning Japanese
Folks, this is one of the first lessons in our list of study pages for a darn good reason. Clean and tight pronunciation is the hallmark of a good speaker. You can memorize the hell out of the language but if no one can understand what you are saying then none of this matters. We cover a lot more of this on our Japanese study tips page.
Seriously, spend a lot of time getting your pronunciation and intonation into line right away. What this entails is busting down your habitual accent and way of pronouncing words. Or more accurately it means NOT "transferring" your accent into Japanese.
So what does this mean??? It means literally just shit-can short vowel sounds if you are an American or Canadian speaker.
Short vowels meaning "Aa" as in apple, "Ee" as in elephant, "Ii" as in igloo, "Oo" as in octopus and lastly "Uu" as in umbrella need to be mercilessly ripped out of your pronunciation of every single Japanese word that comes out of your mouth. Period.
It also means rolling up your sleeves and getting to work on getting the "Rr" sound in Japanese down cold. But don't you worry your pretty little heads a bit about it.
And Alisha and Risa from Japanese Pod 101 again got your back with this must see, short, clean, tight, and super useful video on how to pronounce Japanese like a native right below.
So let's jump straight into how to pronounce Japanese words by cutting straight to the bone with the core, 10 second scanable takeaway of what you will learn in this video lesson.
Regarding how to get the sounds of Japanese right, this also includes words borrowed into Japanese from English. Note they have become Japanese and thus must be pronounced within the extremely tight confines of the language. What the heck does this mean?
It means if you say "coffee" you have to say it as "Kohee" if you are speaking in Japanese. There is no such thing as a rationalization of thinking "It's an English (or more accurately a dutch word actually) so I can get away with pronouncing it the English/American way. No way Jose we say.
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