Japan Society of Fairfield County

Tips on Reading Romanized Japanese for Non-Japanese Speakers

(1) Japanese syllables are all of equal time length; most start with a consonant and end with a vowel; and single vowels are single syllables(hai is divided ha/i).  The syllable "n" not followed by a vowel  stands as a single syllable-the only case of a syllable not ending in a vowel. 
(2) All vowels are pronounced the same: a="a" of "ah" but not long, i="i" of "ink," u="u" of "ultimate," e="e" of "eminent," o="o" of "obey" but not long.
(3) Consonant combinations are pronounced: "sh"="sh" in "ship," "ch"="ch" in "chip," "ts"="ts" in "Betsy."
(4) Long vowels are pronounced as follows: "aa"=pronounced as "ah", "ii"=pronounced as "e" of "Edith," "uu"=pronounced as "woo,"  "ee"=pronounced as "e" of "etch" but long. "oo"=pronounced as "oh."
(5) A consonant "r" is pronounced more like "l" and is unique to Japanese.
(6) Double consonants occurs in a word in which the pronunciation of a vowel stops suddenly and the following syllable begins with h, k, s, t, or p.  For example, in the word "gakkoo" (school), after you pronounce "ga," you stop the breath for a second and continue to pronounce the next syllable "koo." The first syllable such as "k" in this word is always silent with a time duration the same as one syllable.

Return to Article Index
Return to Main Menu