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Help The use of nostril sound for がぎぐげご

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I have heard sentences where the particle が is pronounced like nga, and other words where がぎぐげご are not the first word, they're pronounced like nga, ngi (not sure if I heard this), ngu, nge, ngo. When does this occur? Is it a form of dialect? Does 標準語 have this kind of pronunciation?
 

Toritoribe

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It's called 鼻濁音(びだくおん). It's considered standard Japanese, so, for instance NHK announcers always use it. There are rules which one(鼻濁音 or plain "g") should be used, and 鼻濁音 is considered to sound it elegant, sophisticated or soft, but in some regions like Western Japan, 鼻濁音 is a free variant allophone. Most of all speakers and listeners don't care about whether 鼻濁音 is used or not. Wiki says that the use of 鼻濁音 tends to be declining today.
現在は、ガ行鼻濁音の使用自体が全体に衰退傾向となっている。
鼻濁音 - Wikipedia (all in Japanese)
 

Toritoribe

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It's the problem of the region they live rather than generation. I was born and raised in western Japan, so I don't (or maybe can't) use 鼻濁音 at all in daily life. Actually, I didn't even know the word 鼻濁音 or the existence of this kind of pronunciations in Japanese language until I was twenty. As I wrote above, 鼻濁音 is considered to sound elegant, so it would be better to use it if you can pronounce it correctly. However, its priority in learning Japanese is not high. It's more important to pronounce usual consonants or vowels correctly.
 

Mike Cash

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The number of Japanese people who I have ever heard talk about this at all is one. That was a young lady from Tokyo whose family name is "Takagi" and she made it very clear that she did not like it when people pronounced her name without the nasalization.

If you can do it, fine.

If you can't, don't worry about it. It's the most trivial aspect of learning Japanese that I can imagine and it isn't worth a second of your time.
 
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Thanks for your replies! I can use this nostril sound with ease (another language I can speak also has this), so I guess I'll start using it.
 

Toritoribe

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Actually, the problem is not whether you can pronounce it or not. The point is more likely whether you can use it correctly or not. As I wrote, there are rules which one(鼻濁音 or plain "g") should be used, thus, there are cases 鼻濁音 shouldn't be used even for "g" in the middle of words. For instance, が in 小学校(しょうっこう) "elementary school" is 鼻濁音, but the one in 高等学校(こうとうっこう) "high school" is plain "g". Actually, the rules are sometimes confusing even for native speakers. Also, note that the correct use of 鼻濁音 indeed makes your speech sound elegant, but incorrect use of it could be considered as rural regional dialect.
 
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Wikipedia article doesn't mention whether 鼻濁音 has got anything to do with feminine speech. Based on that, would my guess that it is used indiscriminately by male and female speakers be correct?
 
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