Today's topic covered is a double one! (Japanese pronunciation and Hiragana!): I've taken a year of Japanese at a University, I did fairly well and really enjoyed the language. I learned enough to ask for directions and understand the very basic structure of the language. I suppose I could have a very simple conversation with someone in Japanese. That being said, it was two years ago since I've last studied the language at all. I'm a bit rusty and I want to take my skills even further. Enter Textfugu. Textfugu is a Japanese learning resource for people who want to self teach themselves Japanese. I'm now a subscriber to this resource and I figured I'd journal my experiences here. SO, anyone who wants to follow my progress or practice with me I'll be writing this over here :3 Oh and the first part here. And the second one is here.

I meant to get this one out yesterday, but my internet/cable/phone crapped out all night last evening, which is why this is a double covered topic. First before we really get started, Textfugu shared a hilarious video on some of the sounds of Japanese, and I thought it'd be fun to share it with you all!

Really?! What the hell did I just watch?

Pronunciation:
I'm not going to spend a huge amount of time on pronunciation because, well this is a written post and it's kinda hard to discuss pronunciation without a whole bunch of videos, plus this isn't a replacement for the Textfugu service, it's my learning log/summaries of what I've learned so far :)

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The lesson starts off with a tutorial on how to build good to do lists, which apparently is because there are so many different things to take into account and learn while studying Hiragana that Koichi wants to give some pointers on how to keep good to-do lists. It's got some nice pointers in there that'll help people keep on task. I'm pretty good with to-do lists because I have to balance work and school life and my lists tend to keep me on track.

The next part goes into discussing the "magical pattern" of learning Hiragana pronunciation. It basically says that once you learn five basic pronunciations the rest of them become much easier. They've got a very nice chart for the Hiragana and their phonetic counterparts. The pattern consists of a, i , u, e, and o. Once the pronunciation for these Hiragana are learned, the rest are much easier to learn by just placing the consonant in front of them, with a few exceptions of course. The next step is to actually listen to and sound out these five yourself! I listened to the clips on the site and felt a tad sheepish as I was sounding them back to my computer screen, but hey you do what you gotta do, right?

From there the pronunciation is just what you would expect, with the exception of tsu, chi, shi, and hu/fu. Oh and r sounds in Japanese have a very slight roll to them, shi is the first exception rather than si (phonetically pronounced see) you have shi which is pronounced "she". The exceptions here so far aren't terribly difficult and shouldn't be a problem to memorize. chi, is the exception in the i row for the t group. It replaces ti. tsu, is pronounced "tsoo" and is probably the most different sounding thing from english. When I was still taking Japanese at college, fu/hu mixed me up quite a bit, apparently it can be pronounced both ways, but is always hu when by itself. I'll probably be talking about this one more as issues come up with it. wo is another exception in pronunciation because wo is only used as a particle and the "w" sound isn't pronounced. Oh and one last one, n. which is the only Japanese sound that's just a consonant. It's pronounced like the n at the end of man.

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They have a series of videos to show pronunciation, they're quite simple, but effective, also the technique they have up there for pronouncing the r group is pretty effective. The next section is on pronouncing the hiragana with dakuten on them, or little accent mark type things (there's either two little lines or a little circle that make them up) that change the pronunciation of the character. ha changes to ba or pa. ta changes to da, sa changes to za and ka to ga etc. They're pretty simple, there are a few exceptions, but nothing really worth mentioning. Then next section is all about the pronunciation of combination Hiragana. Combination Hiragana is when you combine a character with a "small" y column hiragana. It makes a slightly different sound although it's still pretty easy to pronounce, with the exception of ryo, ryu, rya those are kinda tough.

Next up Hiragana! I'm not going to cover this whole section as the post here's getting pretty ridiculously long. The way Koichi has us learning Hiragana is first by looking at the words we already know and writing them up in kana, for example the first word he uses is sushi, and the way he does it is to have me pull out my hiragana sheet and circle the two sounds that make up sushi. Apparently words in Japanese are written pretty much as they sound (with some exceptions) and sushi is actually ใ™ใ—ใ€‚Wooo! first word in Hiragana, down. The ใ™ character is "su" and the ใ— character is "shi". Easy enough right? He continues to add other words familiar to those who speak English, but are actually Japanese words, Karate and Sake for example. They end up as ใ‹ใ‚‰ใฆ and ใ•ใ‘ respectively. As for the picture above, it's the character for "a" and I actually kinda enjoy writing this one, the way I've been going about memorizing them is by first writing it out, then writing the phonetic spelling next to it and saying it out loud as I write it. It's helping so far with most of them, so I'm probably going to continue doing it this way for the foreseeable future, even though I look like a fabulous doofus while doing it.

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That's it for today! I'll be doing more Hiragana stuff either sometime this weekend or I'll start back up on Monday.