Is the "U" always silent?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Michi, Apr 25, 2019.

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  1. Apr 25, 2019 #1

    Michi

    Michi

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    I've noticed that the "U" in Japanese is often silent. For example, Kiritsuke is pronounced "Kiritske", and Konosuke is pronounced "Konoske".

    I'm wondering whether the "U" is always silent. Would Kanetsune be pronounced "Kanetsne"? The rule must be more complex than just "don't speak the U". Otherwise, words such as Usuba would be pronounced "Sba", which seems unlikely…
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  2. Apr 25, 2019 #2

    JBroida

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    Nah... it should be pronounced... people just get a bit lazy with it sometimes (myself included)
     
  3. Apr 25, 2019 #3

    Michi

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    Thanks for that!

    So, if I pronounce Kiritsuke as "Kiritsooke", I won't immediately brand myself as an ignorant fool?
     
  4. Apr 25, 2019 #4

    JBroida

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    Just think Romance language vowel sounds
     
  5. Apr 25, 2019 #5

    Marek07

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    Interesting. I followed Sara's pronunciation of Kiritsuke as recorded on ZKnives. She too seems to drop the "u". Surely it's not laziness on the part of a native speaker? More akin to the common dropping of the first "r" in library by many English speakers.
     
  6. Apr 25, 2019 #6

    lemeneid

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    Japanese tend to speak a little faster so sometimes the vowels can be silent but it’s still there subtly if that makes sense.
     
  7. Apr 25, 2019 #7

    JBroida

    JBroida

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    This
     
  8. Apr 25, 2019 #8

    panda

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    He look a like a man, oh I see I seeeeeee
     
  9. Apr 25, 2019 #9

    orangehero

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    what about itadakimasu?
     
  10. Apr 25, 2019 #10

    TurboScooter

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    It's called devoicing, but the vowel is not always devoiced. It happens commonly when the vowel sound is between voiceless consonants.

    U and I are the commonly devoiced vowels. For example, 下 (shita) has a devoiced I. It's more shta than shi-ta (like English she-tah). 好き (suki) is ski, not su-ki (soo-key).

    The ending U on things like desu and -masu verbs (like the aforementioned itadakimasu) are devoiced unless you're trying to be cutesy or whatever.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_phonology#Devoicing
     
  11. Apr 25, 2019 #11

    Michi

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    Thank you Sir! :)
     
  12. Apr 25, 2019 #12

    osakajoe

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    Also depends on the social situation your in. You will enunciate words more clearly the more formal polite situations you are in.
     
  13. Apr 25, 2019 #13

    limpet

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    Interesting. When studying Japanese years ago, I remember our teacher telling us to ”think” those vowels when making them, as I understand now, voiceless. They are both there and not there. They are silent but affect how you say the word nonetheless.

    One common phrase I struggled with (still am) was ”shitsurei shimasu”.

     
  14. Apr 25, 2019 #14

    KenHash

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    This is the best explanation, albeit very academic. Certainly accurate. Although, as pointed out, that last "whatever" includes formal and official circumstances. Rather the opposite of being "cutesy".

    Years ago as a kid I heard an American lady say "..just a skosh". (pronounced skohsh) to mean "just a little bit".
    It was years later that I learned that the word was the Japanese Sukoshi 少し a term brought back by US GI's
    during the post WWII occupation and Korean War. But the pronunciation as "Skosh" is really how you hear it in most instances.

    The "U" often sounds silent when Japanese is spoken quickly. If spoken or read slowly, the U is quite clear.

    Going to the first post- Kanetsune (a name) should not be pronounced Kanetsne. On the other hand, forcing the "tsoo" is also wrong. Kiritsuke sounds like Kiritske when said quickly. But if you said Kiri-tsoo-ke, you would end up putting the accent on the "tsoo" part. Japanese is a phonetic language, like Spanish, Italian, modern Greek. But it does not have the accents placed on latter parts of the word. For years the USN radio at Yokosuka (home of the 7th fleet) used to say "Yoko sooka" but they changed to "YOkohska" which is closer to the way it's pronounced.

    BTW any other Japanese speakers on this forum?
     
  15. Apr 25, 2019 #15

    Corradobrit1

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    Netsuke. Maybe I have very poor hearing but I hear 'Netskey' when its pronounced.
     
  16. Apr 25, 2019 #16

    osakajoe

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    Yes. As in my ID says I live in Osaka. Mostly use Japanese in my daily routine and maybe 20-30 percent English.
     

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