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TYJ Hiragana for k/g + vowels

This article is in the series Teach Yourself Japanese

2.2. Hiragana for k/g + vowels

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

g + vowels:

ga[ ga ] Listen
English "g" + Japanese "a".
gi[ gʲi ] Listen Similar to English "g" + Japanese "i", but the tongue position gets closer to the hard palate.
gu[ gɯ ] Listen English "g" + Japanese "u".
ge[ ge ] ListenEnglish "g" + Japanese "e".
go[ go ] ListenEnglish "g" + Japanese "o".

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

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 (だくてん "dakuten" in Japanese).

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

Hiragana examples:

Pitch:L H
Romanization:ki ku
Meaning:chrysanthemum (noun)

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

Pitch:L H H H
Romanization:ke i ka ku
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:kakɯ] instead of [keikakɯ]. The sound [e:] is the same as [e], but twice as long as [e]. Its Romanization is always "ei", not "ê".

Pitch:L H H H
Romanization:ga ka
Meaning:painting artist (noun)

Pitch:L H
Romanization:kô kô
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 [koɯ]. Its Romanization is "kô", not "kou".

Pitch:L H H L
Romanization:kô gô
Meaning:empress consort (noun)

Pitch:L H
Romanization:ka gi
Meaning:key (noun)
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About author
My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

I work as a display engineer.

One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.


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