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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lesson 2.5:促音(そくおん)Sokuon

In learning about Japan you've undoubtedly come across things and places with a double vowel in their name(One famous example being Hokkaido). How is that rendered in 仮名(Can't read it?), you may ask? With the help of a small つ 仮名, the term for it being 促音. It signifies a brief pause in speech while saying the word(Much like in the English words Poppa or Rabbit)-the technical term being a Germinate Consonant;the more proficient you are at speaking Japanese, the briefer it'll be  Let's take the name for an archetype in most anime-type stories as an example of how it's written:


*what a female is named, when they have a tough outer shell, but a tender inner being, closer to when we call a tough looking person a big softie*

It'll sound different depending on what 仮名 follows it(such as in the words 出席しゅっせき-the word for attendance-& ばっちり- used to express when something is done right or is right on the money), but the general principle is the same

Another use for the 促音 is at the end of a sentence to signify a sudden stop in both speech and pronouncing a 仮名 with a full breath, examples including but certainly not limited to when you see something that rends you speechless or being punched in the stomach. This usage is one you're more likely to see in 漫画 and アニメ, but you also can also use to write out any reactions you may have to events that make you do a double take. 

For example, you get to the front of a concert line, only to find they've just sold out. I would imagine the immediate reaction would be "あっ" followed by despair. 

Lastly, it serves to add an emphasis on a word when spoken, much like how someone say "Amazing" they put an emphasis on the "ma" portion, producing "Ama~zing". Often seen when using the word ばかり(thus rendering as ばっかり) but can also apply to others as deemed appropriate. 

Small note: with m and n sounds it's a bit different, as ん proceeds these instead of a small つ to produce the desired affect, such as with the word あまり(which you'll learn about down the line) being rendered as あんまり. To produce a 促音 (as well as a smaller version of あ, い, う, え, お, や, ゆ, or よ)on the computer, type x, then the 仮名 you want.

For a review of the vocab you've seen here, point your browser here

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