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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