What parts of Japanese are difficult for English speakers to pronounce?
|Photo credit: Rick Scott and Joe Orman/NASA|
The following features of Japanese pronunciation cause problems for
The tsu in tsunami (tidal wave), especially at the beginning
of a word.
The sound represented in rōmaji as r is not an English 'r'
or an English 'l'. See What is rōmaji r? for a full discussion.
Words like hyakutake, the name of a comet, are difficult because
there are no English words that have a consonant followed by a 'y'
sound and a vowel in the same syllable, unless the vowel is 'u' (as in
Hugh). So hyakutake may come out like hiyakutake.
Japanese pitch accent. See What is Japanese pitch accent?
It is difficult for English speakers to correctly produce Japanese
short and long vowels, such as correctly pronouncing ito (string)
and Itō, a surname.
- It is difficult for English speakers to distinguish between the
'n' in kon'yaku (engagement to be married) and in kon'nyaku
(a jelly-like foodstuff), or to correctly pronounce a Japanese name
like Shin'ichi or Jun'ichiro. See
What are the differences between kana writing and pronunciation? for a fuller discussion.
Jaime Benito de Valle Ruiz suggested a clarification about
Copyright © 1994-2017 Ben Bullock
If you have questions, corrections, or comments, please contact
or use the discussion forum / Privacy