Incorporating Foreign Words in Japanese: Pronunciation Tips

How to Pronounce Foreign Words in Japanese

As Japan became a major economic power, international trade increased. This caused many foreign words to be incorporated into Japanese. This was a good thing because foreign names and pronouns were easier to articulate in katakana.

There are 46 katakana characters that represent sounds. They are based on Chinese characters and have the same sounds as the hiragana vowels: a, i, u, e, and o.


In Japanese, the sound is pronounced tsu (). It is a consonant sound which is made by bringing the tip of your tongue in contact with the back of your lower teeth. A long vowel consists of two syllables, while the short one is only one syllable.

Many learners of Japanese get confused when it comes to pronouncing tsu. It is important to remember that tsu must always come after a vowel. If it comes before a consonant, then you must pronounce it as the consonant.

You must also pay attention to the length and strength of syllables in Japanese. The language uses pitch accent instead of stress accent, so words do not have to be emphasized as strongly as in English. Practice reading, writing and listening to Japanese as much as possible to improve your pronunciation. You should also focus on intonation, which is the ups and downs in a word or phrase. This is what makes a language sound smooth and natural.


Known as prana in India, qi in China, ki in Japan, and mana in Hawaii, chi is the life force that courses through our physical bodies, and animates our internal organs and all other aspects of our lives. When chi flows freely, it feels like health, zen, and balance in our body, mind, and spirit.

The first syllable of each number in Japanese starts with an open vowel (a, i, o, or u). If it ends in a consonant, an overbar is added to signify that the vowel is long, and a small circle is added to the upper right corner of the glyph to mark it as a voiced consonant.

Odd numbers are traditionally considered lucky in Japan. For example, the number seven represents wealth, and many of their special days – New Year’s Day, Children’s Day, Girl’s Day – fall on odd-numbered dates.


Often, you will see a little tsu () next to a double consonant in Japanese. When this happens, it indicates that you need to pause in between the two sounds and stretch out your tongue a bit. It’s important to remember this when you are pronouncing these sounds because it will make the difference between sounding like a native speaker and making a mistake.

The letter tsu looks a lot like the English “S” but is pronounced differently. It’s a small and simple-looking character with only one stroke. It should be pronounced as if you are rolling your tongue for the R and then moving it to the front of your mouth.

Romaji is sometimes used to transliterate Japanese words in dictionaries and books for foreign learners of the language. This is because it has become much easier for people to pronounce Japanese words spelled in roman letters than they are when spelled in katakana.


As Japan became a major economic power, international trade increased rapidly. This led to many foreign words entering the Japanese language, such as names, onomatopoeia and other foreign phrases. To facilitate communication, katakana was created to “Japanize” these words and make them easier for the Japanese people to pronounce and understand. For example, the word patei is written as te + small i in katakana. This sounds very different than te + i in Hepburn romanization.

Romanized Japanese is also used to transliterate Japanese words in dictionaries, textbooks and other written materials intended for foreign readers. It is also often used for street signs and passports in countries where the native Japanese writing system of kanji and kana are not used. In addition, romanized Japanese is often used in the written form for Japanese terms that have not yet been officially adopted into kanji or kana, such as loanwords from English. This is known as romaji.

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