こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! in blog form! We’re your gurus of gojuuon, your hosts of hiragana, your guides to Japanese language and culture, Kiki and Koko! There’s a good possibility this is the first lesson or article you’ve stumbled upon, in which case, welcome aboard! We’ll give you all of the tools you need to learn Japanese language. The very first, we always recommend, being learning how to read and write, which can sound daunting at first, but it really assists in every aspect of learning Japanese, which we explain throughout the other nine lessons! This is the tenth set of the gojuuon-jun! We stress again, this is the last of the gojuuon-jun!! But, with even more fervour, we want to remind you that despite this being the last of the gojuuon-jun, this isn’t the last of hiragana, and far from the last reading lesson. There are many more lessons to come~! And, there are many more fun activities and new ventures planned that we hope you’ll enjoy.
But, pushing the fact that this is far from the end of learning to read and write, we just want to say, if you’ve been with us since 「あいうえお」, we… are so proud of you for sticking with it and making it this far. With the investment of time and effort you’ve made, you’ve started the engine to learning that will make learning more, not necessarily a complete breeze, but hopefully at least more enjoyable as you’ll have a better grasp on the basics. But, if you’re just starting with us on this article, we’re still proud of you! You took, or are taking, the first steps into a whole new world! It’s an expansion to your mental horizons, a secret key into a new way of thinking, understanding more than you did before. Whether you’ve learnt five hiragana or you’re on your 46th, you know more than you did before, and you’ve went above and beyond. It’s something to be proud of, and we’re so happy you’re taking this journey with us. We hope to continue to be your guides through Japanese language and culture for as long as possible, and even when you’ve reached the point where you feel comfortably fluent, we’ll be here to help you spice up your skills, creating spicy sentence sandwiches to keep your linguistic and even cultural knowledge not only up-to-date, but fun.
Learning a language is a journey, one where you have to mark specific milestones and goals as the more that you know, the more you may realise you don’t know. This phenomenon is common in people who have reached high levels of fluency in Japanese. But, in these beginning stages, you should try to form a different and more helpful mindset by, firstly, making learning a treat or an oasis. If you use it as something to relax, then you’ll have a much better attitude towards learning as the fun adventure that it is! But, secondly, you have to have specific goals in mind and celebrate those milestones. There will always be a new word, a more complex doctorate level kanji, a classical Japanese grammatical style, a philosophical cultural phenomenon to understand, but along the way, it is crucial to recognise your accomplishments along the way to realise how far you’ve come rather than the indefinite amount there is to go. Think of all of the words you may not even know in your own language~! Like, did you know the「#」 symbol used in hashtags is an octothorpe? Or the reason some call it a ‘pound symbol’ is because it came from 「℔」?
There is a chance that you already knew that fun fact, but the point is that there is always more to learn! And, this lesson, we’re going a bit above and beyond with two of the included hiragana. The two we’ll present are actually obsolete, however obsolete doesn’t mean that you won’t see these used in various places! We present to you our favourite characters. The obsolete「ゐ」and「ゑ」~!
So, in Shouwa 21, or 1946, 「ゐ」and「ゑ」were two of the characters that were thrown out as obsolete or repetitive, as now you’ll see it replaces with 「い」and「え」, which is why you’ll see 「ye」written with a 「ゑ」, or the katakana counterpart, 「ヱ」, because it’s basically considered a homophone in modern Japanese. However, you’ll see these more often as 「うぃ」and「うぇ」which we’ll cover in our lessons about blended readings, but they’re basically read as QUIZBO™ will read 「ゐ」and「ゑ」. Even still, these characters are obviously still able to be typed on a modern computer, meaning, there is still good use for them. Not only do they make words look super neat, but they’re also used in Ryuukyuuan, Okinawan, Ainu and other Japonic transliterations.
Of course, we love these characters because… just look at them!「ゑ」and its ornateness for being hiragana and how cute 「ゐ」looks. They’re special and despite being considered out-dated, they add a fun twist to words that may have even originally used these characters.
But, there is another character we want to quickly discuss! And, that is 「ん」, the only hiragana that is one lone consonant, no vowel in sight. It’s the end of the ‘alphabet’, おしまいのン, oshimai no n, roughly, how one might say in radiotelephony, 「ん」as in 「the end」, which coincidentally works well in English. However, despite the fact that it seems straightforward as one reading, properly explaining the reading of 「ん」 would take an entire article. However, we’re going to touch on it to make sure you have a good basic idea. Basically, when in doubt, nasalise it. There are times it slurs to SEEM like an ‘M,’ but that sound isn’t properly transliterated that way, and it’s a case of that trickster romaji, but it’s important to know.
The point is, to get that sound, you have to begin saying it as though you were nasalising the 「ん」, then in the following syllable when it’s found in the middle of a word where you close your lips together for the consonant, it’ll have similarities to the ‘M’ sound, but this is because over 100 years ago, 「ん」was 「む」sort of in the same way 「は」can be 「わ」, but now.. it’s not 「む」, so you should be sure to pronounce it correctly. It’s something that will instantly make you sound so much more fluent as many people oversimplify or incorrectly pronounce it.
And… There’s no 「wu」. There’s no fancy explanation, here, there just isn’t a 「wu」, but you can write it as 「う」. But, if you’d like to know more, we can always expand.
We do hope that properly explained everything else, but believe it or not, we haven’t even gotten to the actual reading lesson, yet! So, if you don’t quite have it, you can hear and practise with QUIZBO™ with「わゐゑをん」~!
Maybe you don’t want to see this chapter of hiragana end so soon?? No worries, if you’re new or you just want to revise / review before you tackle this last set of 五十音順, gojuuonjun, we have you covered.
Pink thumbnails with all of us on it are usually Reading Lessons.
Pink thumbnails with QUIZBO™ are usually Quizzes.
Blue thumbnails with all of us are usually Writing Lessons.
and the others are usually Vocabulary/Reading/Writing Practice.
This was already a longer lesson than usual, but still a good opportunity to practise. Now, if you’re ready, it’s time to continue to the last set of hiragana in the gojuuon jun lesson set~! If you’re not sure what hiragana is, then be sure to take a look at this article to see how the Japanese writing system works.
But, without further ado, we’ll need to enlist the help of our computer friend, QUIZBO™くん！(The ™ is silent) This is a portable version, QUIZBO™ Mini, who lives here on the site. He’ll be here to help sound out these hiragana for you. You can click the sound ‘bytes’ as many times as you’d like, QUIZBO™ won’t mind. ( Get it, bytes? … Computer? …We’ll stick to teaching Japanese. ) Afterwards, you’ll be able to take a quiz with QUIZBO™ to help you review them or test your knowledge! Are you ready!?
Let’s NihonGO!! わゐゑをん!!
We’re going to show you the character, then you you can click the play button to hear QUIZBO™ sound it out for you. But, as a better visualisation of each sound, we also have the romanised pronunciation of each character so you have something in English to which you can compare it.
In romaji, 「わ」 is transliterated as「wa」which sounds sort of like 「wahh」or the ‘wa’ from the American pronunciation of ‘water’
In romaji, 「ゐ」 is transliterated as 「wi」or 「i」which sounds sort of like 「whee」, but can be written as 「うぃ」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
A technically obsolete character, but it’s still used in specific instances described earlier.
In romaji, 「ゑ」 is transliterated as 「we」which sounds sort of like 「way」, but can sometimes be written as 「うぇ」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Again, obsolete, but super fun~
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
You’ll see this one as a particle more than in any words, and oddly enough, when you do see 「wo」in many words, you’ll see it written as 「うぉ」, but usually using katakana for loan words. You won’t see a lot of loan words every using 「を」, so for all intents and purposes, to store the extra obsolete kanji, you can clear way of 「whoa」and just think 「oh」, if that makes things easier.
In romaji, 「ん」 is transliterated as 「n」which sounds sort of like how you would pronounce the regular「n」or a nasalised「ng」depending on the placement in the word.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
We went over it a little earlier in the lesson, but we just want to say… this is a huge milestone. You あ to ん, it’s like a graduation into a new tier of learning. We’re so proud of you.
And, that’s 「わゐゑをん」!! The last instalment of the 五十音順, gojuuonjun, series! But, not the last of hiragana! You might have noticed there are a LOT of sounds you’ve seen and heard in vocabulary using hiragana. But, no worries, like we’ve mentioned in lessons like 「さしすせそ」and maybe「はひふへほ」, there’s some more sounds you’ll get out of very similar characters. You’ll have to pay attention to one tiny detail when you’re reading, but when it comes to writing, it’s only adding one tiny detail! It’s going to get interesting, and we’ll definitely have to do some comparative quizzes to make sure you don’t mix up characters when they become similar. There will also be a few new characters based on previous characters that will modify pronunciation. We’re far from complete, but you’ve come a long way! Look forward to the future whilst treasuring your accomplishments so far.
We thank you so much for learning with us. We know that learning a new language can feel daunting, but we hope that this series has put you at ease. We want to give you all of the tools you need to make the most of each lesson, but also not so much that it’s not something you can absorb in a relaxed environment. And there’s nothing more relaxing than having the articles come to you.
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