2.10. Hiragana for w + vowels


w + vowels (modern Japanese):
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(wa)wa[wa] audio Japanese "w" + Japanese "a".
Japanese "w" sounds like English "w" but is slightly softer. Unlike English "w", you don't have to round your lips.
(i)i[i] audio This is the hiragana for "i".
(u)u[u] audio This is the hiragana for "u".
(e)e[e] audio This is the hiragana for "e".
(o)o[o] audio This is the hiragana for "o".

Note that there are no hiragana for "wi", "wu", "we", or "wo".


w + vowels (ancient Japanese):
HiraganaRomanizationPronunciationDescription
(wa)wa[wa] audio Japanese "w" + Japanese "a".
(wi)i[i] audio This hiragana is not used in modern Japanese.* It shares the same phoneme with (i). Its pronunciation was "wi", but "w" has been lost.
(u)u[u] audio This is the hiragana for "u".
(we)e[e] audio This hiragana is not used in modern Japanese.* It shares the same phoneme with (e). Its pronunciation was "we", but "w" has been lost.
(wo)o[o] audio There is a single-kana postposition with this kana in modern Japanese. Other than that, this kana is not used in modern Japanese. It shares the same phoneme with (o).
Its pronunciation was "wo", but "w" has been lost. The Romanization is "o", but some people use "wo" instead.

* Since the kana (wi) and (we) are not used in modern Japanese, you don't have to memorize them. I show them just for your interest.



Hiragana examples:

Hiragana:(he)(i)(wa)
Pitch:LHH
Romanization:heiwa
Meaning:peace (noun)

For your interest: Japan has had a relatively peaceful history, even though the World War II was disastrous. Japan had a policy of (sa)(ko)(ku) "sakoku" (self-isolation) from 1639 to 1858, and Japan hadn't experienced war for more than 200 years. The Constitution of Japan, which was established after the World War II, denies the nation's rights of war.

Hiragana:(zi)(wa)(re)
Pitch:LHH
Romanization:jiware
Meaning:earthquake chasm (noun)

For your interest: Most earthquakes are caused by the pressure between plates, which are parts of the earth's surface moving slowly to different directions. There are a dozen plates on the earth, and four plates are in conflict around Japan; they are Eurasian Plate, Pacific Plate, North American Plate, and Phillipine Sea Plate. That's why Japan is a nest of earthquakes.

Hiragana:(wa)(sa)(bi)
Pitch:HLL
Romanization:wasabi
Meaning:Japanese horseradish (noun)

For your interest: Japanese horseradish (wasabi) is a spice which has a similar taste to mustard and used for sushi.

Hiragana:(wa)(ra)(u)
Pitch:LHH
Romanization:warau
Meaning:laugh (verb)



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