Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: Re: How do you pronounce ra, ri, ru, re, ro
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Tue, 04 Nov 2003 15:52:43 GMT
References: 1, 2
> The technical term for the sound of the Japanese "r" usually is flap.
Since the English "l" is closer to the Japanese "r" than the American "r" is, some Japanese wonder why "r" is used when Romanizing Japanese. There are two reasons.
1. The letter "r" stands for a wide range of sounds. The American "r", the Spanish "r", the French "r", and the Mandarin "r" are all different, and the Japanese "r" is very close to the Spanish "r". The sound the letter "l" represents has no significant difference between languages and it's different from the Japanese "r".
2. Other languages that don't distinguish "r" and "l", such as Mongolian, use "r".
There are increasingly many Japanese who give their children English-origin names, but they can't use "l" when they use Romanization, such as Risa (from Lisa), Emiri (from Emily), and so on. Some of them criticize that, but their complaint is linguistically thoughtless.
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