こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online!:Iɴɢᴇsᴛ ᴛᴡɪᴄᴇ ᴅᴀɪʟʏ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴡᴀᴛᴇʀ ᴀs ɴᴇᴇᴅᴇᴅ. Mᴀʏ ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ Jᴀᴘᴀɴᴇsᴇ ʟᴀɴɢᴜᴀɢᴇ ʟᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ, ʙʀᴏᴀᴅᴇɴᴇᴅ ʜᴏʀɪᴢᴏɴs, ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ sᴇɴsᴇ ᴏғ ᴀᴄᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪsʜᴍᴇɴᴛ. Cᴏɴsᴜʟᴛ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴅᴏᴄᴛᴏʀ ᴛᴏ sᴇᴇ ɪғ ɪᴍᴘʀᴏᴠɪɴɢ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʟᴀɴɢᴜᴀɢᴇ sᴋɪʟʟs ɪs ʀɪɢʜᴛ ғᴏʀ ʏᴏᴜ. We’re Kiki+Koko, your guides to Japanese language and culture! We’re back at it again with the hiragana lessons! Before we jump into all of this, we want to make sure that anyone who is just beginning to learn Japanese language for the very first time, or someone who simply would like to have their memory reinvigorated.
If you’re not sure what hiragana is, as well as understanding the basics of the Japanese writing system, then we recommend you have a read of one of our previous articles: How Do You Write in Japanese? | Japanese Writing System Demystified . Before this lesson, if you haven’t already, we recommend you have a grasp of the previous hiragana of the 五十音順, gojuuon jun, as this lesson is the continuation of what comes after gojuuon jun. Maybe, you’re not sure if you even need to learn how to read using Japanese characters, but we have some insight into the importance of knowing how to read Japanese as it pertains to fluency as well as just general knowledge. But, as also have reasons why you should still be familiar with romanisation spelling, which luckily our lessons will assist you with~! And, we’ll walk you every step of the way through reading. You can take the first step with us here: Let’s Read HIRAGANA!! | with Kiki+Koko &QUIZBO™.
Now, hopefully it’s been enough time since the last lesson of the 五十音順, gojuuon jun, set for those who have been with us since the beginning~! But, if you’re not totally comfortable, yet, then that’s alright! No worries, there’s no rush. With more exposure to Japanese writing as well as writing it more often, we’re sure you’ll succeed! Success looks different depending on your goals, so be sure your goals and timelines are realistic. Any time of the year is a useful time to reevaluate your goals and milestones to see if there’s more you’d like to do in order to achieve them or if it’s too overwhelming to shove into one small space of time. So, just go at your own pace~!
濁点とは？| What is Dakuten?
So, perhaps after learning the first set of characters, you may have wondered where some common sounds are in common words you may know such as 「漫画」, 「まんが,」 「manGA」, or 本田, ほんだ, honDA. But, wait! Perhaps you already recognise a character from these words? Is this, perhaps,「か」? Well, if you did recognise this character, then good on you, mate! That’s ace, as this will make things much easier. Now, if you look quite closely, we maybe even recommend for this part zooming in on your screen, you’ll see two dots or very abbreviated lines above the character:「˝」. These, are what are known as 濁点,(だくてん), dakuten, or commonly as 点々, (てんてん), tenten, literally meanings dots or spots.
Now, what does 濁点,(だくてん), dakuten, mean? Well, it is literally known as voiced marks. Now, if we look at the kanji, it can also mean impurity marks. We mention this because it really helps to grasp the way these are different to the other characters. If we look at 「か」, it’s a crisp sound, unaltered, however が, ga, uses almost the same part of your mouth, well, literally your throat, to make this consonant sound. But, it turns into a sort of slurred or muddied version of it. This may be delving a bit too deep, but it’s important to note that が, ga, in many cases and dialects can be muddied to the point of being nasalised as ngahh, rather than just a sharp crisp gah that is very close to the original sound. It sounds a bit more native not to use a crisp gah sound. This is more of a special case, but it illustrates the nature of 濁点,(だくてん), dakuten. Others of the same sound group may be a bit crisper, but still have voicing.
When you put a hand on your neck for just a moment, (not too tightly now) and say 「か」, you’ll notice you really only feel a smooth bump of an attack of the air. However, when you say が, ga, notice that there is a smoother vibration, literally a voicing. In comparison, the former is percussive as a consonant, but the second is muddied by voicing. Voicing is literally making a tone with your throat. It’s something you most likely do in your own native Earthling language, but may not have noticed the difference between these voiceless versus voiced sounds.
Now, if you know the other characters, then you’ll have a head start on all of these. You’ll already know the stroke order, as well. As a helpful hint, the 点々, (てんてん), tenten, come after the main portion of the character, starting from the left-most mark to the right mark. For now, this is really all that you need to know for now about 濁点,(だくてん), dakuten. We’ll be sure to continue to give you more information about it as necessary, but for now, it’s best to focus on the quite tiny dots that change the sound, and the meaning of the words vastly. We’ll certainly assist you in working with that in future quizzes with QUIZBO™.
Overall, we wanted to make sure to give everyone enough time to study and revise with the original characters because there is one pitfall that many people stumble upon when first practising to read hiragana, and that is either not seeing or not paying attention to (dakuten/handakuten). It’s not an beginners fault, though! Again, these markings can be tiny, at times, and that’s the reason why, even though we explain romaji can be a double crossing crutch when relied on for too long, it’s a bit important before you take new vocabulary out for a go, you should be sure which sound the characters make. That isn’t to say that making mistakes is something bad, in fact, this actually may assist you in differentiating the characters. Mistakes are just a part of learning~! And, for those who wear corrective lenses, while most character shapes feel very different, this and future kanji definitely are items of which you’ll want to have a clear view. Again, especially in some handwriting, dakuten can be a bit small, and this is where paying attention to details will be critical! But, no worries, if you’ve made it as far as learning the first gojuuon, then this actually will, overall, constitute a much simpler learning experience overall.
So, if you’ve learnt all of the gojuuon chart of hiragana, then there are many other benefits you’ll have associating these modified characters:
Firstly, when we teach you how to type on a phone using a quicker method, you’ll already have the mental associations to make the process much simpler. (There’s always a method to the madness!)
Secondly, and maybe most importantly, you already know the stroke order of the main characters, if you’ve already learnt it, and all you have to do is add these modifying marks . In fact, it should help you keep these characters fresh in your mind, as you’ll practise them alongside learning these new pronunciations.
Lastly, knowing these and knowing how they are modified will help you on your way to future differentiation of kanji that may simply be one stroke away from one another, but vastly change the pronunciation as well as the meaning, such as 体, karada, and 休, kyuu, or yasu when part of words like 休み, yasumi. There’s just ONE stroke difference when you’re reading them, but again, context and previous knowledge will guide you through to make it natural over time.
We’d like to reiterate, learning is a journey~! It won’t simply happen in one sitting, unless you’re a QUIZBO™ sentient robot computer who can memorise things instantly. And even then, if you’ve seen AI, it still takes them the same process of trial and error to memorise new tasks when given to them with only instructions for them to sort out on their own. Even computers make mistakes, but they keep trying again and again until they get it! The only difference is, a computer might not get discouraged, so you as an Earthling must remember that this is simply the way learning works. If you keep a good attitude and try your best, then your best is good enough. With time, you’ll improve, but be happy with the little steps along the way. Two dots above a character can throw people for a loop, but with time, it’ll prove simpler than differentiating the difference between reading bough, slough, through, cough, and lough in English.
We have some accomplish celebrating things in store, which for those in the future, they’ll already know what it is, but for the first students, this will be a surprise. But, even still, new students can feel like it’s something to work towards, and continuing students will get the same feeling once we reach the next block of milestones. We’re very excited about this, and it seems to be coming together!! We want to make sure it’s sustainable for future students and dabblers in future.
Anyway! Exciting news aside, sorry it took a bit of waffling before we’ve finally reached the main lesson, but we want to be sure to mention all of the important facts and motivations that you’ll be able to use to continue your journey through the language with all of the tools you’ll require~!
Above are the tools that you’ll need to compare the original character and the modified character. But, without further ado, we should probably welcome back your computer friend and ours, QUIZBO™くん！(The ™ is silent)
If you remember from previous instalments, 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!! がぎぐげご!!
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, 「が」 is transliterated as「ga」which sounds sort of like 「gahh」**
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
For reference, the character being modified is 「か」 While, overall, characters have very consistent pronunciations, often times, when you see this in difference scenarios, different emphasis, or different dialects, you’ll hear it nasalised more or less. Often when used as a particle, it will be slightly nasalised, but moreso nasalised in northern dialects. But, for now, just do your best~!
In romaji, 「ぎ」 is transliterated as 「gi」which sounds sort of like 「ghee」**
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Here we have the dakuten added to our old friend: 「ぎ」Again, depending on the dialect, this may be more or less nasalised, which is basically locating the ‘Ghh’ sound farther back on the pallet of the top of your mouth.
In romaji, 「ぐ」 is transliterated as 「gu」which sounds sort of like 「goo」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Here we have 「く」eating some delicious てんてん. You’ll usually see the dakuten either inside of the ‘mouth’ of the character or sometimes a tiny bit higher.
In romaji, 「げ」 is transliterated as 「ge」which sounds sort of like「gay」**
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Well, there’s a bit less of a drawl to it, it’s shorter and quicker, not like American or English pronunciation of course. It’s just always an approximation to give you some assistance.This is 「け」with whom you may or may not be familiar, but with dakuten.
In romaji, 「ご」 is transliterated as 「go」which sounds sort of like 「GO!!」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Especially with any British accent, it wouldn’t resemble the spoken form of ‘go’, again, like all of these, they’re just meant to approximate. Coincidentally, this character you would see in the hiragana version of our series name~! And, it’s a modified version of a character you’ll find in Koko’s name twice~! 「こ」
And, that’s 「がぎぐげご」!! Now that we’re passing into new territory, we’ll still continue numbering them accordingly for the hiragana set, so in case you’re starting with the first one, you’ll know the continued order, as they all build upon each other with the extra information presented. 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. With little steps comes big progress!
We want to continue to ensure your steps to success in your Japanese language learning goals, whether you want to just learn a bit for fun or become fluent. You can prevent our bad dreams and feeding them to the tapiras well as ensure the continuation of the creation of new and even better content by leaving a TIP in the TIP♡JAR to keep it going, or for long term contributions in increments, you can join our Patreon where our gracious host, Indigo East, usually posts behind-the-scenes, sneak-peeks, exclusive content, and more. And, we join in as well! Again, if you’d like to support our survival and the creation of more content to be made available to as many people as possible, you can also share the content! You can easily share via Twitter and Pinterest where you can retweet and repin respectively without even having to type! Gestures like that go a long way, and we appreciate it.
Thank you for joining us! We hope that you continue with us on this adventure, and we appreciate that you’ve chosen us to assist you on your Japanese learning journey.