2.11. Hiragana for /N/, /Q/, and /H/


/N/:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(n)n' (before a vowel or y)
n (otherwise)
(m before m/p/b in Hepburn)
[m] before p/b/m
[n] before t/d/n/r
[ŋ] before k/g
[N] otherwise
audio
(see right)
Basically, the pronunciation of /N/ is "n" with one-syllable length. It is important to correctly pronounce the mora following /N/. Modify /N/ if necessary.
If /N/ is followed by any vowel, "s", "h", "w", or "y", don't shut your mouth completely like "n". Keep your breath going out from both your nose and your mouth.
If /N/ is followed by "m", "b", or "p", pronounce /N/ as "m".
If /N/ is followed by "k" or "g", pronounce /N/ as "n" in think.

The Romanization is "n" in most cases. If followed by vowels or "y", the Romanization is "n'" to avoid confusion with n + vowels. In Hepburn Romanization, "m" is used when followed by "b", "p", or "m".

The following phrases are pronounced differently:
(ka)(ni) "kani" (crab) has two morae.
(ka)(n)(i) "kan'i" (simplified) have three morea, the second of which is /N/. Don't let your tongue stop the breath from your mouth when you pronounce the /N/.
(ka)(n)(ni) "kan ni" (into a can) has three morae, the second of which is /N/ pronounced as "n".


/Q/:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(small tu)the next letter
(t before ch in Hepburn)
(see right) Pronounce the next consonant longer than usual.
When followed by a plosive like "t" and "k", /Q/ is a breath stop with the mouth position to pronounce the next consonant.
When followed by a fricative like as "s", /Q/ is a continuous consonant.

This hiragana looks like the hiragana (tu) "tu", but they differ in size.

The Romanization is duplicating the next letter. In Hepburn Romanization, use "tch" instead of "cch".

Note for /N/ and /Q/:
Even though /N/ and /Q/ contain no vowel, they are morae. Each mora has the same length of time.


/H/:
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(long)^ or ¯
(over a vowel)
the previous vowel Pronounce the vowel of the previous kana. For instance, if this kana follows (ka) "ka", its pronunciation is "a". This kana is used only for imported words, and is called the long vowel mark.


Hiragana examples:

Hiragana:(ni)(small tu)(po)(n)
Pitch:LHHL
Romanization:Nippon
Meaning:Japan (noun*)

* There is no grammatical difference between common nouns and proper nouns in Japanese.

Note: This word is the official name of Japan in Japanese, but another word (ni)(ho)(n) "Nihon" is more commonly used in colloquial Japanese.

Hiragana:(si)(n)(bu)(n)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:sinbun
Meaning:newspaper (noun)

Hiragana:(ha)(n)(za)(i)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:hanzai
Meaning:crime (noun)

Hiragana:(ge)(n)(i)(n)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:gen'in
Meaning:cause (noun)

Hiragana:(si)(small tu)(pa)(i)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:sippai
Meaning:failure (noun)

Hiragana:(ro)(small tu)(ko)(tu)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:rokkotu
Meaning:rib (noun)

Note: The hiragana for /tu/ and the hiragana for /Q/ have different size.

Hiragana:(ko)(small tu)(ka)(i)
Pitch:LHHH
Romanization:kokkai
Meaning:national parliament (noun)

Hiragana:(ra)(long)(me)(n)
Pitch:HLLL
Romanization:men
Meaning:Chinese soup noodle (noun)

Hiragana:(ka)(re)(long)
Pitch:LHH
Romanization:ka
Meaning:curry, curry and rice (noun)

For your interest: Chinese soup noodles and curry and rice are the most popular foods in Japan. Both are so Japanized that Chinese and Indians think they are Japanese foods.



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