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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