こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! Wʜᴇɴ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀɴᴛ ɢᴏᴏᴅ ᴏʟ’ ғᴀsʜɪᴏɴᴇᴅ ᴅᴏᴡɴ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ʟᴇssᴏɴs sᴇʀᴠᴇᴅ ʜᴏᴛ ᴀɴᴅ ғʀᴇsʜ, ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴏɴ ᴏᴠᴇʀ ᴛᴏ Kɪᴋɪ+Kᴏᴋᴏ: Lᴇᴛ’s NɪʜᴏɴGO!! Oɴʟɪɴᴇ, ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴏғ ᴏᴠᴇʀ 50 ғʟᴀᴠᴏᴜʀs ᴏғ ʜɪʀᴀɢᴀɴᴀ. We’re Kiki+Koko, your guides to Japanese language and culture! We’re here to serve you some new and delicious characters that are sure to satisfy👌 ~ Whether you’ve been a long-time visitor and student, returning for the latest lesson, or this is just your first time, we’re here to deliver understandable and helpful lessons and articles to assist you and offer you mental sustenance in your Japanese language learning journey.
This is quite a momentous lesson, as we’re presenting you with one of the last of the main types of modified hiraganaーother than some linguistic related ones, but you needn’t worry about that just yet. We’re going to continue to guide you along the path to understanding the essentials and beyond when it comes to Japanese language and culture. And, even after this, there are some other concepts that we’ll have to guide you through before you can truly feel as though you’ve mastered hiragana. But, even still, if you’ve made it to this point, through all fifteen lessons, we couldn’t be more proud of you!! That’s an amazing accomplishment! It takes such dedication and hard work to get to this point. Whether you’ve put your nose to the grindstone and toiled away writing characters on page after page in your ノート (のーと), or just spent a few moments a day over a long period of time, you’ve travelled a long way! And, it’s very important to look back and appreciate how much you know. Of course, there’s always so much more to learn, but taking time to appreciate each step of the way is what keeps people motivated! And, we know you’ll continue to do well as long as you keep a positive attitude.
But, perhaps, you’re brand new, here, and staying motivated is a bit impossible if you may not even know what hiragana could possibly be, as well as just the general ideas of the Japanese writing system. But, no worries! We’re here to get you up to speed as we’ve written a quick article just for you called: How Do You Write in Japanese? | Japanese Writing System Demystified . In it, you’ll learn the basics of what it entails to learn to read and write in Japanese. You should also be sure that before you move onto these modified characters, you’ve got a good grasp of the previous character list called the 五十音順, gojuuon jun, as these modifications are of those very characters. However, maybe you find yourself thinking you’re way in over your head. Maybe you’re even going so far as to thinking learning to read and write is just one big plastic hassle. Well, we have a thing or two you might want to know before making such a hasty overgeneralisation which we’ve covered in our article explaining the importance of knowing how to read Japanese. Even if you’re just looking to speak, or even learn enough to get by, you’ll be surprised how this may change your perspective. Even the most die-hard of purists has to understand, though, that one should still be familiar with romanisation spelling as a JSL student, which we luckily are sure to continue to help you with during each lesson! We’ll take you by the digital hand and lead you every step of the way until you’re reading like some kind of… bibliomaniac! (Or, just someone who can properly communicate and understand Japanese text.) The first step of your journey can be taken right here: Let’s Read HIRAGANA!! | with Kiki+Koko &QUIZBO™.
「We’re not going to delve into it right here and now, yet, but we figured it would be something interesting to mention because when you learn 【はひふへほ】since you’re basically learning 15 characters at once as these are the base to 10 other characters as well. So, that’s something definitely encouraging about this lesson! It’s preparing you for so much more.」
Yet again, we hid another bit of an Easter egg. We always try to give you a bit of something more of which to look forward in order to give you clues to hopefully give you encouragement and anticipation. Well, the time has come to reveal the second set of characters for which you’ve been preparing since lesson 5! You may have already guessed that the first set we mentioned was fulfilled by the 濁点, dakuten, versions of 「はひふへほ」known as 「ばびぶべぼ」。However, this set of characters is even more special than one could imagine, as it has another set of related modified characters! And, though this type of diacritic marking that will apply has some linguistic cousins, in everyday Japanese, these still feel as though they have special markings created just for them. You may have heard of 濁点, dakuten, now, get ready for 半濁点, handakuten!
半濁点とは？| What is Handakuten?
If you already know about 濁点, dakuten, then you already know half of the story when it comes to its diacritic brother, 半濁点, handakuten. Even still, you might have been interested or curious as to how in the world one would spell common words like: 「日本」「にっぽん」, 「niPPOn」「たんぽぽ」,「tanPOPO」 or 「ぴかぴか」「PIkaPIka」。However, you may have already recognised this character all along? Perhaps you already know the base characters such as「ほ」and「ひ」? Or, perhaps, this seems all too similar to another modification found in 「ぼ」and 「び」. But, if you look quite closely, you’ll find the modification is quite different. Rather than two dots or short strokes, such as「˝」,you’ll instead, find a small circle: 「゜」. This is known as 半濁点,(はんだくてん), handakuten,or otherwise commonly colloquially known as 丸, (まる), or literally meaning circle.
Whilst 濁点, dakuten, in everyday Japanese finds itself serving multiple sounds for multiple characters, 半濁点,(はんだくてん), handakuten, for beginner’s purposes, is mainly meant for the purpose of making the 「P」sound when paired with the ハ行, hagyou, otherwise known as the 「は」column. So, in everyday reading, when you see a 「゜」, you can more easily recognise this simply was the 「P」sound without having to think of much else. Though, in linguistics, this can be used for various voicing, again, you most likely won’t need to worry about it as a beginner or even in intermediate reading. But if you area curious as to at least one case where this is useful, as we did mention in the 濁点, dakuten, lesson, there is the tendency to nasalise the が, ga, sound along with others of the ガ行, gagyou. And in linguistics, this modification can be represented as 「か゚」, romanised as ‘nga’. However, again, as a beginner, this is really something for linguistic purposes rather than everyday usage. You may see it affect some characters in manga for varying affects, but again, it’s best to keep things simple early on.
Speaking of keeping things a bit simple, it may be strange to think about the grouping of characters such as 「は」「ば」and「ぱ」, and one may wonder how these could possibly be similar enough. And, oddly enough, if you take a moment to examine the way these sounds function, it actually starts to make perfect sense. Now, when you say 「ば」, it’s a muddying of the initial voicing of 「は」, using your lips to change the sound. As dakuten would imply an impurity mark or a type of muddying mark, 半濁点,(はんだくてん), handakuten, would mean HALF impurity mark. Have you ever noticed when switching from the B sound to the P sound or「ば」and「ぱ」, that 「ぱ」actually sounds a bit crisper? Take a moment and switch back and forth. In that same way, it’s attacked a bit more but not TOO much, as it’s meant to only slightly modify the air and sound. Most of these sounds are aspirated, meaning that they not only rely on tone, but air. So, when you’re trying to make the proper sound for 「ぱぴぷぺぽ」, remember the softer 「ばびぶべぼ」and try to modify it to be a bit crisper. It’s not about a lot of aspiration, rather about blocking the air.
So, if you’ve already learnt the previous stroke order for 「はひふへほ」, then you’ll find yourself with a head start on the stroke order for these characters. However, you’ll want to be sure to practise! The point of writing and rewriting is even more important when it comes to very similar characters. It can help you to differentiate and make these differences more concrete because it’s truly the tiny differences that can make things a bit more complicated. But, again, we’re sure if you can master 「b, d, p, q」differentiation in Roman/Latin letters, you’ll be able to do the same, here! We’ll do our best to assist you with this in the future along with help from QUIZBO™.
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!! ぱぴぷぺぽ!!
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, 「ぱ」 is transliterated as「pa」which sounds sort of like the word「pa」without the diphthong or「pahh」 **
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
As you may already recognise, 「ぱ」is a modification of 「は」. Most of all, be careful as not to mistake this modification for 「ば」. When you see this circle, remember it makes the「P」sound and not the other sound.
In romaji, 「ぴ」 is transliterated as 「pi」which sounds like the letter 「P」or 「pea」in more of an American accent.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Again, this character is a modification of its ハ行, hagyou, or 「は」row sibling, 「ひ」. Most of all, just be sure to compare the other modification to this sound and do your best not to mistake one for another! The circle is normally generally prominent, but just something to keep an eye out for!
In romaji, 「ぷ」 is transliterated as 「pu」which sounds sort of like Winnie the「Pooh」, (and it sort of looks like him, too)
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
If you remember the lengthy time we spent explaining 「ふ」in the 「はひふへほ」lesson, as well as the 「ばびぶべぼ」explanation, then you’ll hopefully have a good understanding of why the soft modification works so well. Now, just very gently attack it a bit more, and you’ll get that tiny bit of a pop without it being too noticeable. It’s just about stopping the air flow, but keeping it crisp.
In romaji, 「ぺ」 is transliterated as 「pe」which sounds sort of like the English word「pay」without the ‘y’ sound or diphthong at the end.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Again, this is a modifcation of the ハ行’s 「へ」, taking the gentle 「へ」sound and replacing the ‘H’ with ‘P’ sound. Again, any time you pronounce these, always be reminded of the initial vowel sounds あいうえお which have no extra sounds, just clean vowels without the extra twang given to the vowels in English. This isn’t specific to this character, but just something always useful to keep in mind!
In romaji, 「ぽ」 is transliterated as 「po」which sounds sort of like「pohh」 just without the extra diphthong as usual.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
「ぽ」is a modification of the ハ行’s 「ほ」. Again, if you have a good idea of the previous ones, just apply the same idea here~! Luckily, these have very consistent voicing as long as you remember your vowel sounds, and as for all of them, be sure to leave out any diphthongs that can happen for English speakers. Diphthongs are the sliding sound that is found in many vowels, even when spoke, like in ‘ABC’, do you notice how there’s more than one sound happening? Not just the consonant, but the sliding of the vowel. This is huge pitfall when people make the transition from English to Japanese, so if you’re already comfortable with leaving these out of your vowels, then you’re already doing very well! It’s just something to always keep in mind when you’re pronouncing new characters and words. Keep it clean and concise!
And, that’s 「ぱぴぷぺぽ」!! Very fun to say, and even more fun to be able to read! Even if this is a huge milestone, there’s no need to worry about having more on the horizon, as these will act as more building blocks for important new milestones in future. We’ve made a commitment to be there every step of the way, and through every global crisis, we’ve still managed to digitally be there for you, doing our best to fulfil our mission and yours. If you’ve been here along with us through whatever trials you find yourself facing, you can appreciate the work you’ve put forth against all odds. Learning a new language is tough enough, and life can be difficult. But, with a positive attitude and bit of help, you can achieve your goals! Let’s continue to enjoy this Japanese language learning journey, together, and we hope that there’s sunshine on the horizon! As we always say, little steps bring big progress, so just keep moving forward whilst never forgetting to appreciate every step you’ve taken before.
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