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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 8)

Slang, or as it's known in Japanese, 俗語ぞくご, is the self-pruning Bonsai present in all languages, cutting off old limbs and growing new ones to refine its form and function. One of the major tools in its development is truncation, the practice of cutting words down to fun size treats for both speaker and listener; you know, like how the names Brad and Angelina are spliced together to create Brangelina, or how air conditioner is cut down to AC, or how Lamborghini is shrunk to just Lambo (a version of this used in shrinking down English terms used in Japan, such as DV [Domestic Violence]), NG [No Good-used when something sucks] and OL [Office Lady, the cultural equivalent of the secretary in other countries].  

      It's usage in Japanese is just as commonplace and just as frequently employed when creating pet names for someone, be they for people, places or things. With words, it can be as simple as taking the 1st couple Mora of a word to make it, the same way Location was cut from the original way to say in Japanese (ロケーション) down to just ロケ-which in arcade gaming circles, can also refer to a location test, where games are brought for folks to play with and root out any trouble spots the developers might need to squash before release.

     With people, the process of making a pet name can be as simple as taking the 1st mora of their name and adding a + ちゃん(less forceful)/くん (asserts the speaker is a bit higher on the social ladder than the listener), like talking to someone called Takashi and using this to call them たっくん (more on what these suffixes imply later. For now, just know they're more familiar forms of address).   What fuels their creation is how the creator perceives the person getting the moniker and implies not only that they feel more at ease around them, but also whatever feelings are built up around them as they see them being, which also applies to the next process you're about to learn.

     The next process can do the verbal equivalent of taking a lump of coal and squeezing it down to a tiny, sparkly diamond. Take, for example, the name of the Weezer-like band, Asian Kung Fu Generation. Through Japanese phonetics it's sounded out as アジアン・カンフ・ジェネレーション, which can be a bit much to remember on the fly, so to make it easier to whip out, the 1st couple mora from the 1st couple words-in this case アジ and カン-are taken and fused together. Now, the next time the band comes up, the linguistic slider of a pet name they made with this process can be used to refer to Asian Kung Fu Generation, now known as アジカン, with maximum efficiency. It may seem dumb now, but the shorter the name of something is, the more our mental muscles can hold on to it and shift through the clutter to find when we do want to talk about it.

     Other ways to use this include creating new criminal slang, known as 隠語いんご in Japanese, and euphemisms, or for those needing a refresher, softening a word's impact by using less potent ones-i.e. saying someone passed on instead of just saying they died. With it, you can shrink the word Sexual Harassment down from セクシャルハラスメントto セクハラ and Delivery Health (the 隠語 term for what folks in America know as Call Girls) down from デリベリヘルス to デリヘル, perfect for when you're in a rush and need to get to sensitivity training/pay the nice person.

     Variations of the formula are used to achieve the same end, like the one that compounded ぼく友達ともだちすくない[I Don't Have That Many Friends] into はがない(Haganai), but don't worry about know them too much, you'll discover them the more you immerse yourself into the society that uses the language and start digging into the neat stuff around it.
     Speaking of those variations, though, one inverts the process and makes a new term from a word's last few Mora, thus changing Platform from プラットホーム to simply ホーム. Not as widely used as the ones you learned before, but still very nifty to know, like the next method you're about to learn-which was actually used to make the word Karaoke.

     This method, primarily used to capture a whole statement in one word, combines the 1st few mora of a word in the statement with either a 1 漢字かんじ word or the 1st 漢字 of a word. If it sounds complex, that's 'cause it is, as a method made to capture highly detailed concepts probably would be. How detailed?

     How about singing in front of an empty orchestra?

     One of the most likely origin stories for the word Karaoke is that the creator wanted a name to convey the consumer would have a full instrumentation backing them up while they hung out and sang their hearts, even if it's just them, a mic and the machine. Eventually, he came upon the words “からオーケストラ”, to which he applied the aforementioned process and created 空オケ/ カラオケ, which has now become synonymous with off key good times all over the world, but isn't the end of how flexible is in capturing a concept.

     The process can also be inverted-putting the 1st few mora in front of a 1 漢字 word or the 1st 漢字 of a word-to do the same thing, according to a statement and personal flair, like in the word スポこん. This particular term is meant to encapsulate an athlete's grit in the heat of competition, known in Japan as スポツマンの根性こんじょうら , and uses the modified process I mentioned to create it. The better you get with the language, the more you can use these processes to create your own terms, including one coming up that relies on Romaji to craft it's terms.

     This needs a fairly tight grip on the language to use well, but if you know how to abbreviate words, you already have a good idea on how this works. This method uses the Romaji version of a statement + any numbers involved, taking the 1st letter from 1st 2 words of a statement, pairing it with the 1st numbers in the statement, if any, and creates a brand new word.

     The term most strongly associated with this method is KYケイ・ワイ, which was made by applying it to the phrase Kuuki o Yomanai[Can't Read the Air-or more specifically the social context]. So strongly associated, is this term, that all terms created using this method are known as KY, with enough being created and used in everyday chats to justify an entire book explaining them being published.

     One of the justifications for this has to be the length of phrase it can capture, which is seemingly limitless, if the term MK5 is of any indication. In the realm of KY, this refers not to automatic, but to someone having a super short fuse, as the phrase the term was created from is “Maji de kireru, 5[go]-byou-mae[In about 5 seconds I'll totes flip OUT]”

     If you practice up and get all these methods down, you'll be able to both ID slang and add to the bonsai with your own creations, which you can then use among your buddies to foster stronger bonds and, should the unseen hand guiding its development favor you, bring to the masses for them to enjoy and incorporate into their vocabulary (If you're looking to work on your KY, give this a peep). Before I turn you completely loose, though, I've got a few last things to tell you about 'x,' 'y' and 'w' sounds, as well as a taste of how all this can be applied to your Japanese development(it really is quite bountiful, as you'll soon see).

Key Takeaways
ñ  New words can be made  with the 1st couple mora of a word
(EX: Sandwich →「サンド」イチ  サンド/Basketball → 「バスケ」ットボール  バスケ)
ñ  New pet names can be made with the 1st mora of someone's name + + ちゃん /くん (EX: なつみ っちゃん/正行まさゆきまっくん)
ñ  New words can be made by combining the 1st couple mora from the 1st couple words (EX: Print Club → 「プリ」ント「クラ」ブ  プリクラ/Personal Computer →「パーソ」ナル「コン」ピューター  パソコン )
ñ  New words can be made with the last couple mora of a word
(EX: McDonald’s -> マク「ドナルド」→ ドナルド/ Corvette コル「ベット」→ ベット)
ñ  New words can be made by  combining the 1st few mora of a word in the statement with either a 1 漢字 word or the 1st 漢字 of a word
(EX: 朝」にかみを「シャン」プーする 朝シャンする[To shampoo your hair in the morning]/ サラ」リーマン・ライフを「脱」退だったいする だつサラする(to ditch the daily grind)/ 「ニコ」ニコ動画(どうが) 「中」毒ちゅうどく「ニコちゅう [a Niconico addict/troll]

ñ  New words can be made with the 1st letter from the Romaji version of a phrase (EX: Chotto Ima Anne CIA「シイー・アイ・エイー/ Ichimon Nashi IN「アイ・エン」/ Itsumo Osoi, 10(jup)pon Gurai IO10「アイオーじゅう」

Extra Credit!

Make a pet name out of your’s(or someone else’s!) name

Using the 1st couple Mora of the upcoming words, make shortened versions of them: Spaghetti, Delicious and Bourgeois

Using the 1st Couple Mora from the 1st couple words, make a compact version of these names: Cross Training, Brad and Takako & Abington Boy’s School

Using the last couple Mora of the upcoming words, make shortened versions of them: Flannel, Internet and Ocarina

Using the 1st few mora of a word in the statement with either a 1 漢字 word or the 1st 漢字 of a word, make a compact version of this phrase: よる にドリフトに行()
Using the 1st letters of the words in these phrases, make a compact version of them: Light Novel, Ushinatta Generation & Kagai Mousou

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 7)

As every language has sounds unique to it, so goes for how they're transcribed. For first time learners, this process of putting sounds to paper is crucial, since what they see on the page is is what they'll connect to those sounds. The words you're reading right now, for example, all have their sounds associated with them, and that connection allows people to grasp 'em, speak 'em and use 'em how they you see fit.

     What does that mean for saying foreign terms through Japanese phonetics?

     Well, let's say someone heard the word 先生(せんせい) for the first time while talking to their friend fresh out of Karate class. With nothing in front of them to refer to, they start rooting around their memory banks for any combination of letters to produce sounds close to 先生. This can create 'Sensey,' 'Sensee,' 'Sensai,' 'Cencei'  or anything else that can fit the word's sound, and any one of the combinations can be the 'right' one if someone with enough authority and conviction in their answer says it is.

     This authority is why, long after Catholic missionaries in Japan 1st used Roman letters to write out Japanese sounds-a method otherwise known as Romaji-multiple systems of it are still alive and kicking. Among them, the ones familiar to folks in and of Japan are the Hepburn System (the defacto one for modern students) and the Kunrei Shiki system (gov't made one used in Japanese schools and by older generation students).

     The Kunrei Shiki System, in particular, can cause rough spots for those not used to it, since the Romaji it  uses for , , , and others are tied to sounds in other languages, using Tu, using Si, using Zi and using Ti. Does that mean those sounds can't be made in Japanese?

     Not where Tu, Ti and Di (along with a few others) are concerned. 'Tu' Sounds-like those in Tune & tool can be rendered one of two ways: 「ツ」 or 「テゥ」. 「ツ」-said the way you first learned it-is the common way Japanese-speaking folks say it, while 「テゥ」-said like the actual 'Tu' sound-is used when you want to get closer to its natural sound.

     'Ti' sounds-as in those heard in Ticket and T-shirt-are much the same way, with 「チ」-said like you already know how to-being the common way and 「ティ」-said like the actual sound-being closer to the original version. With this and the other stuff you have-and will!-pick up, you'll be able to start putting the pieces together, like when your chats turn towards stuff like Baseball and you suddenly hear the word  チーム in discussing the Giants and the Tigers.

     In contrast, 'Di' sounds-like in Dig and Dimple-need just one way to render them: 「ディ」(which is said how you've always used 'Di' sounds);'Zi' sounds-used in Zip and Zim-are much the same, except they use  , which is said the same way you learned at the outset. For 'Du' sounds-as heard in Duke and Doom-, you'll need to make your thinking a bit flexible, since they use two entirely different sounds, namely 「ヅ」and「デゥ」.  For those needing a refresher,「ヅ」is said the same way as「ズ」、and is the preferred way to render 'Du' sounds, 「デゥ」being said the same as the 'Du' sounds you're been using all these years and best used when you want to get it across in a chat.

     When to comes to typing 'em out, the computer knows that whether you type it as Chi or Ti, you probably want「チ」, and thus gives it to you on screen. However, if you want something like this (テゥ), you'll want to type in this order: Te(to produce), x, then your chosen vowel, applying a similar process get something like this(デゥ)-except you'd type de instead of te, naturally.

     I can certainly understand if all this feels like playing guitar with your feet-I still sometimes confuse the the 1st part of Tunagaru with Tuna, myself-, but learning these quirks and systems will let you see the language in ways few students ever do, including how abbreviation of foreign terms work (coming soon!). Just remember, different systems don't always mean different sounds.

Key Takeaways
ñ  There are 2 systems of Romaji: Hepburn and Kunrei Shiki
ñ  'Si'  sounds are rendered using「シ」
(EX: Sims → シムズ /Sick → シック)
ñ  'Zi'  sounds are rendered using「ジ」
(EX: Zipper → ジッパー/Zit → ジット)
ñ  'Tu' sounds are rendered using 「ツ」 or 「テゥ」
(EX: Tour → ツア /Two → テゥ)
ñ  'Ti'  sounds are rendered using「チ」 or 「ティ」
(EX: Ticket → チケット /Tingle → ティングル)
ñ  'Di'  sounds are rendered using「ディ」
(EX: Dill → ディール/Dip → ディップ)
ñ  'Du'  sounds are rendered using「ヅ」 or 「デゥ」
(EX: Dooby → ヅビ/ Dufus → デゥファス)

Extra Credit!
As best as you can, render the words Tune, Dupe, Dizzy and City into Japanese phonetics
As best as you can, render the words チップ, シンプル and ジルチ into English phonetics 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 6)

Germinate Consonants, in English, are the sounds made by T, D, K and others when follow a vowel-like in the words rat, bid and lock-and are one of the milestones of fluency for students of the language. To understand how integral they are, lets examine the English way a gerund-the part of a verb pointing out somethings still going on-is used. '-ing'+ words using similar sounds are something many English speakers use as naturally as walking, yet when it's first taught, the process is like teaching a hamster to say row: long, hard and full of headaches. You sound it out and sound it and sound it out until in one brilliant flash, everything you've learned snaps in place and you start to get how to produce that tiny little pause in speech and fill in a major gap in the road to being a better language speaker (in case you're wondering, 'ing' sounds are rendered in Japanese using either(「イ」mora++) or (「イ」mora+). Similar sounds, such as 'ang' and 'eng', switch 「イ」mora out for something close to the word's sound).

     There are a massive variety of 'em, so to grease the wheels up a bit, let's review a formula you learned a while back, this one for short 'oo' sounds(as heard in book and soot): 'OO' sounds → 「ウ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora. This verbal recipe also applies to words with 'A' and 'U' sounds, but with one crucial tweak of switching 「ウ」Mora with 「ア」 mora; be sure to keep this in mind, because you'll be seeing the formula a lot as we learn how to use the appropriate mora for each sound.

     For example, the structure for 'at/ut' sounds, as heard in bat and nut, is 「ア」Mora+ ッ + . Presumably you've made yourself aware enough to tell when which is which-such as hearing マット in a chat about amateur wrestling-, so I'll refrain from bashing you over the head with it and move on to the other germinates, starting with  'ad/ud' sounds.

     'ad/ud' sounds-as heard in dad and crud-use the structure「ア」Mora+ ッ + , 'atch/utch' consonants-such as those in patch and clutch-using 「ア」Mora+ ッ + and 'ack/uck' germinates needing「ア」Mora+ ッ + to sound it out. I'm sure you'll enjoy using it to say words like black, slack, suck, and words considered 'uncouth' by some with your Japanese-speaking pals (if you happen to walk on that side of the road, that is).
     Likewise, 'ag/ug' consonants-like those in rag and bug-are rendered with 「ア」Mora+ ッ + , with 'adge/udge' sounds-popping up in words like badge and judge-putting the structure 「ア」Mora+ ッ + to work and 'af/uf' germinates-heard in laugh and puff-doing the same with the structure 「ア」Mora+ ッ + . Laughing and puffing can be easily linked together, if you allow your mind, body and soul to work on their own to reach their own conclusions, and building your range of sounds is sure to give it more tools to work with.

     Among those tools are 'ap/up' germinates-used by tap and pup-, which employ the structure 「ア」Mora+ ッ + , 'ab/ub' sounds-including the sounds in grab and dub-rendered using the structure  「ア」Mora+ ッ + . In some instances, the pause used in all these structures is dropped when sounding out a word, whether it's to match the most common way to say it or for personal style(except when l, m or n follow the Germinate Consonant, as you learned in a previous lesson). As long as you keep all you learn in mind, you'll easily be able to both sound words out and analyze unfamiliar ones, like, say, ラグ, for a possible match in your memory banks.

     Other types of germinate consonants apple these principles, but with one change to the formula, which depends on which you're looking at. Germinate consonants with an 'I' sound-like in flip, lid and kick-the formula is 「イ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora, keeping in mind all the little stuff you've learned about 'I' sounds and others so far, of course.

     'E' sounds-including those in red, neck and pet, change it to 「エ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora, 'O' sounds-such as those in  hot, rock and iPod-,switching it to 「オ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora. As you get more accustomed to how all this works, keep this in mind: the way a word is said isn't the only factor in how it's rendered-case in point, studio being commonly said as スタジオ. Those other factors and the seeming oddities they produce will soon be examined, so keep those eyes open.

Key Takeaways
ñ  Germinate consonants(vowels+T/D/K/G/F/P/B) are rendered with this basic formula:  「ア///オ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora
ñ  'ing' sounds are rendered using either「イ」mora++ or 「イ」mora+ (EX: King → キング/Ring → リング/Bing → ビング)
ñ  'at/ut' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Matt → マット/Flat → フラット/Rut → ラット/Hut → ハット)
ñ  'ad/ud' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: iPad → アイパッド/Bad → バッド/Dud → ダッド/Cuddle → カッドル)
ñ  'ack/uck' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Flak → フラック/Mac → マック/Luck → ラック/Buck → バック)
ñ  'ag/ug' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Bag → バッグ/Frag → フラッグ/Mug → マッグ/Lug-nut → ラッグナット)
ñ  'adge/udge' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Cadge →カッジ/Grudge → グラッジ/Madge → マッジ/Fudge → ファッキ)
ñ  'af/uf' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Raffle → ラッフル/Staff → スタッフ/Buff → バッフ/Duff → ダッフ)
ñ  'ap/up' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Lap → ラップ/Map → マップ/Up → アップ/Rupp → ラップ)
ñ   'ab/ub' germinate consonants use this structure: 「ア」Mora+ ッ  (EX: Slab → スラッブ/Dab → ダッブ/Rub → ラッブ/Sub → サッブ)
ñ  Germinate consonants w/ 'I' sounds generally use this structure:「イ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora (EX: Clip → クリップ/Mitch → ミッチ/Rig → リッグ)
ñ  Germinate consonants w/ 'E' sounds generally use this structure:「エ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora (EX: Peg → ペッグ/Blend → ブレンド/Def → デッフ)
ñ  Germinate consonants w/ '' sounds generally use this structure:「オ」Mora+ ッ + an appropriate mora (EX: Mop→ モップ/Notch → ノッチ/Dock → ドック)
ñ  In some cases the will be rendered without the
(EX: Rugby → ラグビ/Time Lag (term for the amount of time a signal is delayed) → タイムラグ)

Extra Credit!
As best as you can, render the words Hack, Pitch, Blog, Cup and Jet into Japanese phonetics

As best as you can, render the words クリック, ネッグ, マッチand パッと into English phonetics

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 5)

Now that you have a foundation to work from, let's get back to the knitty gritty sounds that give Japanese both its challenge and its flavor, especially with foreign terms. As previously discussed, L sounds are one English's tallest verbal mountains to climb for first timers, and part of that comes from the fact that both L & R sounds are rendered with R mora. Of course if your context reading skills are as keen as I'd expect them to be, you should be able to easily tell what someone's talking about when they say 「ライト」(and I say this because high grade context reading skills will be your fast pass to high grade Japanese skills). Naturally, other countries that use the alphabet also give it voice in their own way, including how different R sounds are rendered.

Take, for example, words with the short 'ar,''er,''or' & 'ur' sounds, which, in Japanese, are pronounced by extending the original mora, much like they do in the Boston and New England dialects.

What is that original mora?

Generally, it's 「ア」 mora , as seen in the renderings of bar「バー」, slider「スライダー」, birdie「バーディ」 & sponsor「スポンサー」. Low 'or' sounds, however, are where you'll find the greatest difficulty approaching correctly, so here are a couple other methods to keep in mind.

With some exception, like cork「コルク」, long 'or' sounds are rendered using extended 「オ」Mora, which would make four into フォー &  Orton into オートン. Words containing 'ore' or 'oor', meanwhile, use「オ」Mora + ア to render them; you'll hear this in how words like floor「フロア」, door「ドア」, fore「フォア」 & core「コア」 are spoken in the language.

How can you tell if you're applying this correctly?

Use this phrase as your litmus test: Park the car in Harvard Yard. When it starts to sound more like this 「パーク・ザ・カー・イン・ハーヴァード・ヤード」, you'll know you're on the right track (note that when the word isn't English in origin, , like Arbeit (German) & Forte (Italian), appropriate mora + ル are used to render it-thus making the word for part time jobs/temping (Arbeit) into アルバイト and the word for someone's strong suit (forte) into フォルテ).

Speaking from the view of someone's who grown up speaking English, I know first hand how much of the technical aspects that come so naturally to me can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill for those picking English up from scratch, and one of those boulders, germinate consonants, is what we'll get into next.

Key Takeaways

  • L & R sounds are rendered with R mora  (EX: Lime → ライム/Rhyme → ライム/Long → ロング/Ring → リング)
  • Words with short 'ar,''er,''or' & 'ur' sounds are rendered by using extended 「ア」 mora(EX: Chowder → チャウダー/Director → ダーレックター/Star → スター)
  • Long 'or' sounds are rendered by using extended 「オ」Mora(EX: Orthodox → オーソドックス/Corner → コーナー)
  • Words not of English origin with these sounds are rendered with the appropriate mora + ル(EX: Carta → カルタ/Merkel → メルケル/Torta → トルタ)

Extra Credit!

As best as you can, render the words Lingo, Tarver, Mordor, Orta & Near into Japanese phonetics

As best as you can, render the words ランプ、ビンダー & ホーメル into English phonetics 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 4)

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese:

Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 4)

'I' sounds, like the others you've been learning about, come in long and short forms, and are rendered as differently as they sound. Short 'I' sounds, like those in clip and trip, use the 「イ」 mora to sound them out, while the longer 'I' sounds, heard in kite and ripe, use 「ア」 mora + イ together. Remembering this will let you render words as subtle in difference as bit「ビット」and bite「バイト」.  Likewise, words containing 'igh' should be rendered based on sound rather than spelling, as words like sleigh「スレイ」and slight [スライト」 aren't exactly said the same way-and since English draws it vocabulary from just about every language on the planet, why would they be? In the long run, it'll cut out many of the 'this does not compute. Illogical. ILLOGICAL'  headaches studying foreign languages brings on.

It's confusing, yes, as any unfamiliar process seems to be, but it'll come more naturally the more you get this stuff down pat. If you're having a tough time seeing this as non-BS, keep in mind what they say about the stuff 'Asian' (i.e. hard-ass) parents drill into their kids: the better you are at something, the funner it gets, like how playing a shooter gets more fun when you know what to do and where to go, so you can avoid getting shot up and become the one that brings the pain, gets the drop on your opponent and gets the win. That in mind, let's dig into the bits and pieces of the 'E' sound.

'E' sounds, in addition to having long & short forms, also have forms that don't sound out the the way most English speakers see it(a trait this also shares with the upcoming 'O' sounds), a prime example being the word 'been' in contrast to the word 'sheen'. As is the case when seeking to say words from from one language in another-and is worth repeating-sound is paramount to getting them across. With short  'E' sounds-used in bent, peck and smell-, this means using「エ」mora to sound them out, long 'E sounds-used in beast, peel and spree-likewise sounded out with extended「イ」 mora.

Two exceptions to this are words that have 'ei' or 'ear' sounds somewhere in them. Words using 'ei' sounds, specifically the ones heard in the previously mentioned 'sleight', use appropriate 「ア」 mora + イ to process them into Japanese phonetics-the other kind, like in sleigh, just needing 「イ」 mora. Words using 'ear' sounds, including fear, leer and mere, meanwhile,  use appropriate 「イ」 mora + ャ or ア to process them, vital to know when you wanna ask for a beer 「ビヤ」in a Japanese-speaking bar. On top of that, knowing all this stuff will boost your ability to ID when foreign words are used in Japanese and let you start determining what they could possibly be, words such as テーマ&セックスフレンド-what these are, I'll let you discover for yourself. Hint: One means artistic representation and the other, certain people with certain benefits.

Moving on, 'O' sounds are generally formed with「オ」Mora, meaning words like rock 「ロック」& pocket「ポケット」won't take as much time to learn how to render, save for a few little things you'll want to get down about them (and you'll want to, since this stuff trips up a lot of people trying to put foreign words through Japanese phonetics). One of those little things involves words containing 'oo' in them, not so much for the sound, itself, but for how it's rendered when paired with certain letters. 「ウ」Mora are used to render the actual sound, both in long and short forms, but when it's paired with l, r, m,,or n-or any other letter, for that matter-how it's rendered can change drastically. With l, m, or n, the formula is extended 「ウ」Mora + an appropriate mora (l using ル, m using ム or ン, depending on the word, and n using  ン), but with r, it changes to 「オ」Mora + ア, meaning words like poor would be sounded out as ポオア-if this sounds odd to you, the combination will be revisited in a future lesson, so keep an eye out for it while we take a short trip back something you learned when this kicked off. 

Remember the rules about S, C/K, B, P and F when they don't come with a vowel? Well, in case you need a refresher, ス(S), ク(C/K), ブ(B), プ(P) or フ(F) are used to render each(except when they don't), and when these, or any other letters beside l, m, or n are used with 'oo', the formula changes to  「ウ」Mora + ッ + an appropriate mora. This might seem a bit weird to you, and part of that might come from seeing how Germinate Consonants are handled in Japanese. If you don't know what that is, don't worry, most people don't need to and thus they don't (short version, it's the sound the above letters+others make when used with vowels, the in depth version coming later on).

Actually, considering how much more there is cover-and there is a lot left to cover-you can use what you know so far to say a ton of terms from other languages in Japanese, such as the place lots of people travel to try their luck at the slots and tables, Las Vegas, Nevada(ラス・ヴェガス、ネヴァダ). The range of terms you can say will explode as you bolster your grasp of how it works, and can even take on words invented in Japan, like Mook「ムック」-the result of fusing Magazine and Book together to refer to magazines that seem to be as thick as books.

Words using 'ow' are included in this, and the formula for rendering them is 「ア」Mora +「ウ」, which you'll want to keep in mind if you wanna ask for a blouse「ブラウス」, look for a fancy mouse「マウス」in Akihabara or ask someone what Image Down「イメージダウン」means.

Key Takeaways

  • Short 'I' sounds →「イ」 mora (EX: Bingo->ビンゴ/Flip->フリップ)
  • Long 'I' sounds →「ア」 mora + イ (EX: Flight->ファイト/Slime->スライム)
  • Words spelled with 'igh' are rendered based on sound
  • Short 'E' sounds →「エ」 mora (EX: Get->ゲット/Fred->フレッド)
  • Long 'E' sounds → Extended「イ」 mora (EX: Beat->ベート/Keep->キープ)
  • Certain words spelled with 'ei' → 「ア」 mora + イ (EX: Ein->アイン)
  • Words spelled with 'ear' → 「イ」 mora + 「ヤ」or 「ア」(EX: Earrings->イヤリング/Clear->クリア)
  • 'O' sounds → 「オ」Mora (EX: Body->ボディ/Lolita->ロリタ)
  • 'OO' sounds → 「ウ」Mora (EX: Bloomers->ブルマーズ/Spoon->スプーン)
  • 'OO' sounds +  l, m, or n →  extended「ウ」Mora + ル(l)/ムorム(m)/ン(m(when not ending a word)n) (EX:Cool->クール/Loom->ルーム/Roomba->ルーンバ/Moon->ムーン/
  • 'OO' sounds +  r → 「オ」Mora +  ア (EX: Boor->ボア)
  • 'OO' sounds + letters besides  l, m, or n → 「ウ」Mora + ッ + an appropriate mora. (EX:Football->フットボール/Goofy->グッフィ)
  • 'OW' sounds → 「ア」Mora +「ウ」 (EX:Pow->パウ/Cow->カウ)

Extra Credit!
Why extra credit? Because homework sucks eggs, and you don't really have to do this. If you do it, though, it'll help you get the info down pat, so you can use it how you want to later on in your language studies.

As best as you can, render the words Mastodon, Lorry, Jimbo, Berry & Luna into Japanese phonetics

As best as you can, render the words ルピ、タイガー、ロンド&ミント into English phonetics 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 3)

Let’s begin with the ‘A’ and ‘U’ sounds, which are close enough in how they’re formed to be major stumbling block for many English learners-including Japanese students. For the most part, sound, rather than spelling, is key to rendering foreign terms in Japanese-which is why most who hang around Japanese speakers for a while seem to pick the process up through some sort of verbal osmosis. With long and short ‘A’ and ‘U’ sounds, this difficulty holds especially true (keeping in mind, of course, The Rule of Exceptions), since the short sounds for both-as in Hat and Hut-use both Japanese 「ア」Mora to render them. When you wanna use words like Gallon 「ガロン」& Butter 「バター」 in your chats with Japanese speaking friends, be sure to remember this well; you never know when you might it call on it (such as when your friend asks if you’ve ever heard of スパーバタードッグ

Now when the word uses a long ‘U’ sound, extended 「ウ」Mora are employed to render words like Blues 「ブルーズ」, Groove 「グルーブ」and Sooners 「スーナーズ」; if the Red River flows in favor of your Alma Matter, you can now say it to those you practice the language with (If this feels unfamiliar to you, then the red river likely doesn’t flow in favor of yours, and you can carry on). Longer ‘A’ sounds, in contrast, can be quite tricky to render just so, in particular when to use the harder, American-style ‘A’ sound and when not to.

England and American are among the countries Japan’s borrowed terms from during its trading history; both known as English speaking, but not the same kind of English (just ask anyone who uses The Queen’s English). This difference reflects in how they pronounce different terms taken from the language, including Cassette 「カセット」, Catcher 「キャッチャー」, Gas 「ガス」, & Gal 「ギャル」. The general rule of thumb is to use 「ア」Mora to render them, reserving the structure 「イ」Mora+「ャ」for when the word calls for the harder, American-style ‘A’ sound, like Diamond 「ダイヤモンド」 (often rendered by the shorthand 「ダイヤ」), Candy 「キャンデー」and Gap 「ギャップ」.

When the ‘A’ sound is lower and more extended-like those in Bare and Stare- extended「エ」Mora come into play; should you spot a good looking Case 「ケース」, or get sprayed in the face with Mace 「メース」now you can bring it up in your chats. Why someone would discuss getting Mace-blasted is best pondered on as you hear their tales and adventures unfold.

One curiosity, concerning ‘A’ sound, is that ‘Aw’ –as heard in Maw and Claw- is that they’re rendered using extended 「オ」Mora; something to keep in mind next time you wanna talk about Jaws 「ジョーズ」, or Saw 「ソー」. When 'A' and 'U' appear together in a word-as in the name Aurora- it's rendered as an extended 「オ」Mora. For anyone hailing from Austin, that means you'd sound the city's name as オースティン. Similarly, any time ‘all’ is used, whether in a word or by itself, it’s sounded out using an appropriate extended 「オ」Mora+「ル」, thus making the phrase ‘All for one’ sound out like 「オールフォーワン」.

It does take some getting used to, but the person practicing Japanese with will appreciate not having to rack their brain just to talk with you. With practice and smart study you’ll get down, and the next set of vowels rules, these involving the ‘I’ ‘E’ and ‘O’, become that much easier to learn.

Key Takeaways

  • Short ‘U’ and ‘A’ sounds ->「ア」Mora (EX: Buster->バスター/Spam->スパム)
  • Harder, American-style short ‘A’ sounds -> 「イ」Mora+「ャ」(EX: Camping->キャンピング/Gang->ギャング/Dial->ダイヤル)
  • Long ‘U’ sounds -> extended 「ウ」Mora (EX: Spoon->スプーン)
  • Long ‘A’ sounds -> extended「エ」Mora (EX: Game->ゲーム/Blame->ブレーム)
  • ‘Aw’ sounds -> extended 「オ」Mora (EX: Shawshank->ショーシャンク/Pawn->ポーン)
  • 'A'+'U' -> extended 「オ」Mora (EX: Austraila->オーストラリア/Bauble->ボーブル)
  • ‘All’ sounds -> an appropriate extended 「オ」Mora+「ル」(EX: Hall->ホール/Ball->ボール)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics(part 2)

There are abundance of factors that make English a dense language to learn, from words written far differently from how they’re spoken-including the name of my chosen major, Psychology-to the fact that there 2 ways to learn the complete language, American English and The Queen’s English. For Japanese speaking students and others, one of the major factors out of the bunch is learning brand new kinds of sounds, particularly the ‘Th’, ‘V’ & ‘L’ sounds. The L sound has been a long standing sticking point because it’s formed almost the precise way Japanese R sounds, which involve the tip of the tongue flicking the roof of the mouth.
The main difference, for those not privy to the mechanics, is this: the L sound places the tongue’s tip for the beginning and middle parts of forming the sound, where the Japanese R sound only places it there for the middle portion (assuming it’s the crisp type of R sound, and not the soft, growl-like R familiar to English speakers). It takes lots of time, lots of practice and lots of getting wrong to ingrain these into the tongue’s muscle memory; as anyone ridiculed for not sounding like a native speaker will tell you, it can shred on your nerves when you have to learn it all from scratch.
Consequently, since L sounds aren’t part of their phonetics, R sounds are used to render words like Light(ライト) and Lonely(ロンリ)-Side Note: ロンリ is a fairly popular way to mock Japanese nerds and Japanophiles, mainly among other Japanophiles-in-denial.
V sounds, similarly, weren’t around when the language was first forged and honed, so an approximate Mora is employed to render ‘em, namely the Japanese B sounds, with words like Valve (バルブ) and Volleyball(バレーボール). However, unlike L sounds in Japanese, a way to render actual V sounds was constructed for Va(ヴァ), Vu(ヴ), Ve(ヴェ) and Vo(ヴォ) Mora, for those who want use sounds closer to the language the word comes from. When and where you should use each one will come with experience and chatting with Japanese-speaking friends, but the general rule of thumb is to use Japanese ‘B’ sounds to render V sounds(since the other can be construed as cocky, much the same way insisting someone pronounce Champagne as Cham-Pan-Ye can be construed as cocky)
Speaking of context, the way ‘Th’ sounds are rendered depends on how the word is spoken (or in other words, sounds over spelling, a key principle to remember when sounding foreign words in Japanese). Japanese ‘S’ sounds, for example, are used to render softer sounding ‘Th’ sounds, like those in thunder (サンダー) and thumbnail (サムネイル). Harder sounding ‘Th’ sounds, in contrast, require Japanese ‘Z’ sounds, as they render words like the () and smooth (スムーズ) more faithfully. If this seems a bit mind boggling, you be sure that it can be, for Japanese speakers, as well, especially when they render it from Japanese Mora into Roman lettering (I.E. trying to determine if サウザー is written as Souser, Souther, or Thouther, or any variation therein).
In case you’re wondering, this is as tough as it’ll get, in terms of saying foreign terms in Japanese, so once get this down, the rest’ll be a cakewalk (the other sounds unique to English, like Germinate Consonants, will discussed at a later time). That in mind, we’ll now move on to the sounds Japanese shares with other language.
Key Takeaways
  • L Sounds->Japanese R Sounds (EX: Lyger->ライガー)
  • V Sounds->Japanese B Sounds (EX: Visa->ビザ)
  • The Japanese language has it’s V Mora (Va(ヴァ), Vu(ヴ), Ve(ヴェ)and Vo(ヴォ))
  • Soft Th Sounds->Japanese S Sounds (EX: Bertha->バーサ)
  • Hard Th Sounds->Japanese Z Sounds (EX: Smooth->スムーズ)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics

Now-a-days, it’s commonplace to point and laugh at someone’s craptastic use of a foreign language, especially when it’s something ingrained into the culture-like someone meaningfully says Tortilla as ‘Tor-till-a’. This is particularly true of Japanese usage of English (let’s face it, though; all of us have been guilty of using foreign terms to sound cool at some point in our lives, like the guy who learns about 5 phrases of French to impress the opposite sex). Their usage has yielded many ways for people to poke fun at/fetishize ‘em, most popularly through tons of needless adjectives (e.g. Mega Yummy Fun Fun Handstand) and incredibly awkward grammar and pronunciation, which documents for posterity (for other countries, too!).

Whether it’s to be ironic, cute or mean-as the mixing up of R and L sounds are meant to be, towards Asians-it’s not something that was made out of thin air; all those horrible, horrible assumptions and uses had to be formed from some manifestation of it observed in the real world. This is why people around the world are likely to see the typical American as an aggressive, out-of-shape meathead that couldn’t pronounce a foreign term to save their life, as well as why American and other cultures sees Japan as they do (i.e. weird, anal retentive perfectionists). All that begs the question: why do people struggle with it, even after years of study and practice?