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Monday, January 9, 2012

Sorry, I Don’t Speak Manglenese: Pronouncing Foreign Terms through Japanese Phonetics (part 9)

'X' sounds are an interesting case within Japanese, since they, like the others you'll see in these last few sections, require you to 'expand your mind' in terms of how they're sounded out(lucky for you, you've been doing just that all throughout the Manglenese installments, so this shouldn't be much of a stretch). As for how it's done, let's review how the letter 'X', itself, is rendered: エックス. Simple, right? It and another, upcoming method are the foundation for the sounds this letter creates, so keep 'em mind as we move on to the two ways to render them.

     For 'X' sounds at the end of a word, like Max and Flex, the formula is an appropriate mora + + クス; when they're somewhere in the middle of a word, as in Mexico and Foxy, the normal approach is mora before the X sound + or + the appropriate mora(s); since I'm assuming you want to build up to the tricky stuff, let's start off simple with the sounds made when X ends the word.

     'Ax/Ux' sounds are rendered using 「ア」Mora + + クス, 'Ex' using 「エ」Mora + + クス, 'Ix' using 「イ」Mora + + クス and 'Ox' using 「オ」Mora + + クス. As the time you put in with germinate consonants has shown, these alone can open a world of words you can now express in Japanese, and since I'm sure you picked up a lot of how to apply this from studying that stuff, I'll take off the other kid glove and plop you into the sounds X make when they're somewhere in the middle of a word, including Xa, Xi, Xu, Xe and Xo.

     One part of what make the formula for these sounds [mora before the X sound + or + the appropriate mora(s)] so tough to use is that it allows a lot of variation, with the choice between using  or hinging on the speaker's tastes and experiences.

For the most part, is the go to choice, as reflected in テキサス being the common way to say Texas and メキシコ, the one for Mexico, but the fact that most folks say sexy as セクシーand Mixi-Japan's response to Facebook-as ムクシーdoesn't help those still trying to get down what the words are for Up and Down. Time and experience will help you refine how you decide which one suits the way you want to talk, and since it's mostly applied to casual matters, folks won't be as likely to jump down your throat or give you the cold shoulder if you get it wrong; just relax, let it happen naturally and everything will be made clear(maybe). 

     Another reason to take it easy? 'Cause trying to match this with the multiple languages that use these letters in their words will drive you nutty. To keep it from getting too complex, this section will focus on the sounds found in English-origin words, but you know enough to render any names or words in the accent you feel more comfy with(e.g. Xavier as said in Spanish phonetics v. the English rendition of it), so just apply what you've picked up and let your skills handle the rest.

     Moving on to the aforementioned sounds, 'Xa/Xu' sounds-such as those in Roxanne and Nexus- use any mora before Xa/Xu + / + + any additional mora(s) to sound the word out, 'Xi' sounds-like in Lexicon and the previously mentioned Mixi- using any mora before Xi + / + + any additional mora(s). Similarly, 'Xe' sounds-heard in Execution and Lexington-are rendered using any mora before Xe + / + + other mora(s), 'Xo' sounds-used in Roxor and Toxic-using any mora before Xo + / + + other mora(s).

     If a word uses the harder versions of these, it's a simple matter of altering the formula to voice it, hard 'Xa/Xu' sounds (e.g. Alexandra and Luxury swapping / + with / + . For hard 'Xi' sounds (e.g. Exile), you just need to swap  / + with / + , hard 'Xe' sounds (e.g. executive) swapping  / + with  / + and hard 'Xo' sounds(e.g. exodus) swapping  / + with  / + .

     It's not likely you'll be using these or the W and Y sounds coming up after this too often, but I'm sure lots of people will tell you the same about using Japanese outside of Japan or the communities that frequently use it, like those in LA, NYC, Oregon and other places. You know what, though? So what? You have own your reason for wanting to up your ability to interact with and understand another culture, which has always been the aim of this and the rest of the articles here. As long as you enjoy what you learn and grow because of it, why should it matter whether or not something's 'useful'?

     As long as you keep the humanity of those you use the language with close to your heart, I could care less if you're learning all this so you can navigate the world of Japan's geeks, want to date a Japanese speaker or seek to order auto parts from a hook-up in Japan. I say have fun and enjoy using what you learn, because you get one shot to live life well, no need to waste it trying to make every little thing 'mean' something(whatever that means). 

Speaking of those applications, though, hang tight, in addition to the sounds I mentioned, I'll also give you a peak into how you can use all your knowledge of saying foreign terms through Japanese phonetics, including the best way to use these foreign terms in your style of speaking Japanese. Stay tuned!

Key Takeaways
ñ  Ax/Ux Sounds → 「ア」Mora + + クス(EX: Max → マックス/Flux → フラックス)
ñ  Ex Sounds → 「エ」Mora + + クス(EX: Rex → レックス/ Dexter → デックスター)
ñ  Ix Sounds → 「イ」Mora + + クス(EX: Kix → キックス/Mix → ミックス)
ñ  Ox Sounds → 「オ」Mora + + クス(EX: Vox → ヴォックス/Cox → コックス)
ñ  Xa/Xu Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Alexa → アレクサ/Lexus → レクサス)
ñ  Hard Xa/Xu Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s)
ñ  Xi Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Lexi → レクシ/Auxin → アクシン)
ñ  Hard Xi Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Exile → エグザイル)
ñ  Xe Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Axel → アクセル/Execrate → エクセクレート)
ñ  Hard Xe Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Executrix → エグゼキュートリックス)
ñ  Xo Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Buxom→ バクソム/Luxor → ラクソー)
ñ  Hard Xo Sounds → Appropriate Mora(s) + / + + Additional Appropriate Mora(s) (EX: Exotic → エグゾティック/Exorbitant → エグゾービタント)
Extra Credit!
As best as you can, render the words Klaxon, Sexcetera, Mixology, Moxie and Suxurious into Japanese phonetics

As best as you can, render the words ブラクスプロイテーション, メキサキューショナー, キックスター, ロクソー and タクシド into English phonetics