2.2. Hiragana for k/g + vowels


k + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(ka)ka[ka] audio English "k" + Japanese "a".
(ki)ki[kji] audio Similar to English "k" + Japanese "i", but the tongue position gets closer to the hard palate (the hard roof of the mouth).
(ku)ku[ku] audio English "k" + Japanese "u".
(ke)ke[ke] audio English "k" + Japanese "e".
(ko)ko[ko] audio English "k" + Japanese "o".


g + vowels:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(ga)ga[ga] audio English "g" + Japanese "a".
(gi)gi[gji] audio Similar to English "g" + Japanese "i", but the tongue position gets closer to the hard palate.
(gu)gu[gu] audio English "g" + Japanese "u".
(ge)ge[ge] audio English "g" + Japanese "e".
(go)go[go] audio English "g" + Japanese "o".

The consonants before "i" are different from others. This is called palatalization.

As you see, the double points at the right top of hiragana mean they have a voiced consonant. This mark is called a voiced sound mark ((da)(ku)(te)(n) "dakuten" in Japanese).

The "g" in the middle of words can be pronounced as the [ŋ] in the English word singer [sIŋ@r]. You don't have to use [ŋ] at all.


Hiragana examples:

Hiragana:(ki)(ku)
Pitch:LH
Romanization:kiku
Meaning:chrysanthemum (noun)

For your interest: The chrysanthemum is the symbol flower of the emperor of Japan.

Hiragana:(ke)(i)(ka)(ku)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:keikaku
Meaning:plan (noun)

Note: A combination of a kana with the vowel "e" and a kana for "i" is often pronounced as [e:], not [ei], in colloquial Japanese. As a result, this word is often pronounced [ke:kaku] instead of [keikaku]. The sound [e:] is the same as [e], but twice as long as [e]. Its Romanization is always "ei", not "ê".


Hiragana:(ga)(ka)
Pitch:LH
Romanization:gaka
Meaning:painting artist (noun)

Hiragana:(ko)(u)(ko)(u)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:
Meaning:high school (noun)

Note: Remember a combination of a kana with the vowel "o" and a kana for "u" is pronounced with [o:], which is twice as long as [o]. In this case, the combination of the hiragana for "ko" and that for "u" is pronounced as [ko:], not [kou]. Its Romanization is "kô", not "kou".

Hiragana:(ko)(u)(go)(u)
Pitch:LHHL
Romanization:
Meaning:empress consort (noun)

Hiragana:(ka)(gi)
Pitch:LH
Romanization:kagi
Meaning:key (noun)



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