August 11, 2008

Table 1 - The 46 Syllables of the Japanese Syllabary (Romanized)

a ka sa ta na ha ma ra ya wa n
i ki shi chi ni hi mi ri
u ku su tsu nu fu mu ru yu
e ke se te ne he me re
o ko so to no ho mo ro yo wo

あ か さ た な は ま ら や わ ん
い き し ち に ひ み り
う く す つ ぬ ふ む る ゆ
え け せ て ね へ め れ
お こ そ と の ほ も ろ よ を

The above are the 46 syllables of the Japanese (alphabet) Syllabary. Individually they are called mora. Plurally they are called morae. One mora in particular is the focus of this article. The Tsu つmora. When the tsu つsyllable is added before the consonants k, p, and t, a hardened double consonant sound is produced. You spit out the words Like the sound of the doubled k in bookkeeper, adding the syllable tsu つ to ka, ki, ku, ke, ko makes pronunciation double succinct as in the following:

Tsu っ+ ka か= kka っ
Tsu っ+ ki き= kki っ
Tsu っ+ ku く= kku っ
Tsu っ+ ke け= kke っ
Tsu っ+ ko こ= kko っ

This special Japanese pronunciation of the doubled consonant is denoted by a lowered case, subscripted tsu っ in either hiragana平仮名
or katakana片仮名. Some examples are as follows:


1. makka 真っ赤– deep red
2. jikken 実験– experiment or test
3. shuppan 出版 する– publish , shuppatsu – departure
4. zettai ぜったい– suredly, absoluteness
5. tokkyo – not the kyou which has the elongated
6. happi ハッピ– the English word happy in katakana

Note the use of the doubled consonant sound in Japanese is indicated by a lower case tsu ッ followed by the doubled consonant sound.

When the last Japanese syllable n (ん) is not connected to a vowel, as in the very last syllable of the Japanese syllabary which in fact is just n or , it is like a syllable unto itself. It receives a full count if language were a music it would receive the same amount of time that a two letter syllable receives., and is denoted by the apostrophe ‘. For example:

1. Kin’en 禁煙 is Japanese for “No Smoking@!” not, kinen 記念, or the word for anniversary.
Kin’en 禁煙 has four syllables and the word for anniversary kinen 記念 has 3.

To say the raらriり ruる re れ ro ろ line of the syllabary say first in English name, “Eddy”, then make sure the tip of your tongue is touching delicately behind the upper front teeth. If you say it like this you come close to a true pronunciation of the Japanese word for collar, or eri 襟.
To learn more haya ike! はや行け!

As always,

Ganbatte ne! 頑張ってね
Do your best!

Ja mata kondo! じゃ また こんどう