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Question 日本語の発音, or, "things that make a foreigner go "huh?"

xminus1

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Hello, friends of this wonderful forum:

Just for fun, I've attached an audio clip from a Minna listening exercise. There are no words in the clip that I wasn't already familiar with. But because of the speaker's pronunciation of a certain word, I just couldn't figure out what was being said. I had to resort to looking at the 会話のスクリプト!

Do native speakers hear the same sounds in the word that I'm hearing? I don't want to give too much away just yet because I'd like to get raw feedback first. But if you'd like to know what word I had problems recognizing, look for the spoiler below! 🤭

I attached the mp3 audio clip as a zip file, so if you'd like to listen, you'll have to unzip first.

[PS: This audio clip is a very short excerpt (7 seconds) of a much longer conversation; I edited it myself. I have an up-t0-date Norton 360 antivirus software running on my computer, and Norton scanned it as clean. I would suggest everyone do a check before unzipping, just to be assured.]





SPOILER: The key words in the audio clip I couldn't recognize are: 頭が, and because of that difficulty, I couldn't make out 痛い either 😒
 

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  • Minna No Nihongo Listening Comprehension Audio Excerpt.zip
    107.4 KB · Views: 44

Fufu

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Hello, xminus1,

I listened to the mp3 clip. I feel the speaker pronounces very clearly. I'm a native Japanese speaker. All the native speakers will figure out what the speaker is saying without any difficulty.
 

Toritoribe

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There are no words in the clip that I wasn't already familiar with. But because of the speaker's pronunciation of a certain word, I just couldn't figure out what was being said.
I think 鼻濁音 が in 頭が might confuse you. Refer to the following thread.

(You can hear samples of 鼻濁音 in the wikipedia page I linked in the thread.)
 

xminus1

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Fufu-san, thank you for your response, and welcome to the forum! (I notice you joined a couple of days ago). Native speakers will always be appreciated here, and I also notice you've got some good reactions to your messages already! I'm still rather new here myself, and my experience at JRef has been awesome. The people here are so helpful and generous with their time and knowledge!

Hi, Toritoribe-sama.... I didn't know the phrase 鼻濁音 until you referenced it above, so thank you for teaching that to me. To their credit, the Minna people do talk about nasalized が right at the beginning of the first textbook, when it discusses pronunciation:
"The consonants of the が row are pronounced /g/ when they fall at the beginning of a word, and /ng/ when they fall elsewhere. However, some people make no distinction between these two sounds and pronounce が row sounds as /g/ wherever they fall."​
Even though I have been aware of this nasalization phenomenon since I started with Minna, I hadn't been aware of the regional or cultural implications associated with it. So thank you for this fascinating information.

I couldn't read the wiki page you referenced, but I was able to make out quite a bit of it using Google Translate. Much of it was rendered as rubbish, of course. Am I right in understanding that 鼻濁音 can also affect the た-row of the 五十音図?

Toritoribe-sama, you nailed it when you suspected that 頭が was confusing me. To my foreign ear, the conversational flow of 頭が痛い時 sounded like あたなないたいとき, Although I've learned over time using Minna's audio exercises to recognize elision between a word ending with a vowel that precedes a word starting with a vowel, I couldn't recognize the word 頭 at all! It sounded like あた rather than あた. For me, this is a comprehension issue and not a question of taste when I can't recognize simple words I've already learned! Thank goodness for the script, or I'd still be scratching my head.

So....is ま pronounced as (nasalized) な an example of 鼻濁音? Is the syllable just getting swept up in the が nasalization? Or perhaps I shouldn't assume that native speakers hear あたas I do? o_O

Thank you very much!
 

Toritoribe

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Am I right in understanding that 鼻濁音 can also affect the た-row of the 五十音図?
Probably you misinterpreted an explanation about Tōhoku dialect in the wiki page. In some dialects in Tōhoku region, the consonant /t/ is voiced, and /d/ is nasalized in the middle of words. (Incidentally, this nasalization is called 入り渡り鼻音.)
e.g.
また --> まだ
[mata] --> [mada]

まだ --> まんだ
[mada] --> [ma ̃da]

This phenomenon doesn't occur on standard Japanese.

is ま pronounced as (nasalized) な an example of 鼻濁音?
Not really. The nasalization doesn't occur on the consonant /m/ or /n/ at least in standard Japanese, either, and /m/ is never pronounced as [n] in Japanese.

It sounded like あた rather than あた. For me, this is a comprehension issue and not a question of taste when I can't recognize simple words I've already learned!
I think it's more likely the problem of vocabulary including collocation rather than listening comprehension. Native speakers or skilled learners know that the word あたな doesn't exist, and they can think of a common expression 頭が痛い quite easily since the speaker is talking about the addressee's health condition, even if あたま sounds like あたな. So, you'll gradually become familiar with those issues, I think.
 

xminus1

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Hi again, Toritoribe-sama. You have answered all my questions marvellously. Thank you!

PS...the sad thing is that 頭が痛い was required vocabulary in past Minna lessons, but I guess I memorized it with an unnatural pronunciation. I am finding that spoken Japanese is a language that flows beautifully. In this respect it seems to me similar to French or Italian. I don't think English has this quality to such an extent. I find the fluidity very pleasing to the ear, but as a self-learner it's a challenge! Thank goodness I have the audio exercises and JRef!
 

xminus1

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Hello, friends:

I have another audio example from my listening comprehension exercises that I had trouble with, and think is interesting.

As before, I've uploaded an excerpt of the exercise as a zip file.

Once again I'd like to acknowledge that I am sure the voice actors articulate perfectly and naturally as native speakers. So the feedback I'd like is why the pronunciation, (in this context), differs from my expectations..

The speaker is saying: 「ぜんぜんうきません。」 I've listened several times and it sounds to my foreign ear like: 「ぜんぜんうきません。」

Considering ご is in the が row, this could be another example of 鼻濁音. But I hear the も sound and not /ng/.

Although this might seem trivial, I couldn't recognize the word and had to resort to the script. There are no scripts available in real live conversations, so I need to get better at this! 😣

Thanks!
 

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  • Minna No Nihongo Listening Comprehension Audio Excerpt 23-3.zip
    31.3 KB · Views: 33

Toritoribe

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Yes, that's exactly 鼻濁音 ご [ŋo]. You need to get used to it. Keep on trying.:)
 

xminus1

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Hello, Toritoribe-sama; thanks for your reply.
Yes, that's exactly 鼻濁音 ご [ŋo].
Yay! Now that you've confirmed this for me, I can work on getting familiar with it. You are a brilliant 🌟!!!

Thanks as always!
 

xminus1

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Just as an addendum to my last message, (and possible closure to this thread): I thought I'd draw attention to a longer audio excerpt of the Minna listening exercise we've been discussing.

In this longer excerpt, the verb 動く is spoken by two characters in their respective sentences. While the second speaker does use 鼻濁音, (as Toritoribe-sama confirmed for me), the second speaker does not. Same word, but very different sounding pronunciations to a foreign ear desperate to detect a familiar word.

Something interesting to consider is that the point of the listening exercise had nothing explicitly to do with illustrating the use or avoidance of 鼻濁音. It's just a delightful bonus. How useful it would be for a Japanese language teacher to discuss this audio example with students. As Toritoribe-sama sagely advised: we language learners need to get used to such natural, native articulations, and awareness of them is key!!!

I am so grateful that this forum exists and such things can be discussed.
 

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  • Minna No Nihongo Listening Exercise - Unnasalized And Nasalized Sounds.zip
    91.4 KB · Views: 34

xminus1

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While the second speaker does use 鼻濁音, (as Toritoribe-sama confirmed for me), the second speaker does not.
CORRECTION: I meant to say that the second speaker does use 鼻濁音, but the first speaker does not.
😬
 
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