2.11. Hiragana for /N/, /Q/, and /H/
The following phrases are pronounced differently:
Hiragana Romanisation Pronunciation Description ん n' (before a vowel or y)
(m before m/p/b in Hepburn)
[m] before p/b/m
[n] before t/d/n/r
[ŋ] before k/g
Basically, the pronunciation of /N/ is "n" with one-syllable length. It is important to correctly pronounce the mora following /N/. Modify /N/ if necessary.
If /N/ is followed by any vowel, "s", "h", "w", or "y", don't shut your mouth completely like "n". Keep your breath going out from both your nose and your mouth.
If /N/ is followed by "m", "b", or "p", pronounce /N/ as "m".
If /N/ is followed by "k" or "g", pronounce /N/ as "n" in think.
The Romanization is "n" in most cases. If followed by vowels or "y", the Romanization is "n'" to avoid confusion with n + vowels. In Hepburn Romanization, "m" is used when followed by "b", "p", or "m".
かに "kani" (crab) has two morae.
かんい "kan'i" (simplified) have three morea, the second of which is /N/. Don't let your tongue stop the breath from your mouth when you pronounce the /N/.
かんに "kan ni" (into a can) has three morae, the second of which is /N/ pronounced as "n".
Note for /N/ and /Q/:
Hiragana Romanization Pronunciation Description っ the next letter
(t before ch in Hepburn)
Pronounce the next consonant longer than usual.
When followed by a plosive like "t" and "k", /Q/ is a breath stop with the mouth position to pronounce the next consonant.
When followed by a fricative like as "s", /Q/ is a continuous consonant.
This hiragana looks like the hiragana つ "tu", but they differ in size.
The Romanization is duplicating the next letter. In Hepburn Romanization, use "tch" instead of "cch".
Even though /N/ and /Q/ contain no vowel, they are morae. Each mora has the same length of time.
Hiragana Romanization Pronunciation Description ー
^ or ¯
(over a vowel)
the previous vowel
Pronounce the vowel of the previous kana. For instance, if this kana follows か "ka", its pronunciation is "a". This kana is used only for imported words, and is called the long vowel mark.
* There is no grammatical difference between common nouns and proper nouns in Japanese.
Hiragana: にっぽん Pitch: L H H L Romanization: Ni p po n Meaning: Japan (noun)
Note: This word is the official name of Japan in Japanese, but another word にほん "Nihon" is more commonly used in colloquial Japanese.
Hiragana: しんぶん Pitch: L H H H Romanization: si n bu n Meaning: newspaper (noun)
Hiragana: はんざい Pitch:
L H H H Romanization: ha n za i Meaning: crime (noun)
Hiragana: げんいん Pitch:
L H H H Romanization: ge n' i n Meaning: cause (noun)
Hiragana: しっばい Pitch:
L H H H Romanization: si p pa i Meaning: failure (noun)
Note: The hiragana for /tu/ and the hiragana for /Q/ have different size.
Hiragana: ろっこつ Pitch:
L H H H Romanization: ro k ko tu Meaning: rib (noun)
Hiragana: こっかい Pitch:
L H H H Romanization: ko k ka i Meaning: national parliament (noun)
Hiragana: らーめん Pitch:
H L L L Romanization: râ me n Meaning: Chinese soup noodle (noun)
For your interest: Chinese soup noodles and curry and rice are the most popular foods in Japan. Both are so Japanized that Chinese and Indians think they are Japanese foods.
Hiragana: かーれ Pitch:
L H H Romanization: ka rê Meaning: curry, curry and rice (noun)