こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! Sit down, relax, have a cuppa! We’re Kiki and Koko, and we’re serving you fresh, hot blends straight from Japan. By which we mean, we’re here to teach you how to read some more hiragana blends. That’s right, we’re taking some of your favourite ひらがな五十音, hiragana gojuuon, and mixing them with 小さい, chiisai,「やゆよ」, to create a tasty 拗音, youon. It mutes other ‘flavours’ from the first character, but creates a brand new one that is sure to get you through the day and will be something you won’t want to travel without. But, remember, you’ll want to have a go at the first ひらがな五十音, hiragana gojuuon, before moving onto these. Though they’re not as complex on the palate once one becomes used to them, it can be perplexing the first few times you try it. It’s an acquired taste to which you’ll soon be glad you’ve become accustomed. To prepare yourself, we recommend a look at our quick guide:「拗音とは？｜What is youon?」. Then after you’ve given 「きゃきゅきょ」a go, you’ll hopefully be ready to take on this next set.
Now, we always want to emphasise as lessons continue that each of them are built atop of one another, leading you from one concept to the next to make each concept less of a leap and more of a step. If you’re attempting to learn a new language, it can be difficult enough, and we don’t want you to find yourself becoming overwhelmed. That’s why, if you haven’t already, again, we recommend that if you’re even dabbling in Japanese language, you’ll want something to guide your linguistic palate. Being presented with a smörgåsbord of various teas and coffees may leave you interested but if you’re unsure which is which, it’ll all just be a sea of hot beverages that you can’t make out. But, if you have a proper guide, you’ll immediately be able to perceive the intended flavours and minutia whilst being able to get to that higher plane of enjoyment. So, if you’re just getting started, we recommend you have a look at our super quick guide: How Do You Write in Japanese? | Japanese Writing System Demystified . It’ll give you a basic look at what you can expect out of the Japanese writing system so that you won’t just see a bunch of lines and squiggles, but different sets of writing that we’ll break down into proper digestible serving sizes for you currently and in future. It’s an important and essential skill, knowing how to read which we explain in the linked article, but one should still be familiar with romanisation spelling, which, again, we explain in the linked article, but it’s just important not to rely on it. You can, however, rely on us to assist you with these concepts and more during each lesson! We’ll take you by the digital hand and lead you down the journey towards your Japanese learning goals! The first step can be taken right here: Let’s Read HIRAGANA!! | with Kiki+Koko &QUIZBO™.
Though the second round of lessons listed are of the large version of 「やゆよ」ーnot the small version we’ll be using today, which is 「ゃゅょ」ーit’s important to go back and keep these fresh in your mind. Though it can be helpful when it comes to stroke order when characters are utilised in different ways, it can become a bit muddied when it comes to differentiating them, especially in some fonts where the small characters may not be extremely tiny. So, just be sure to use this as an opportunity to be sure you’re comfortable with the initial characters before moving onto these new blends. And, here to help us introduce you to these new blends, 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? ……..bytes? ………sound bites….? …..Yeah, we’ll be holding off on our stand-up careers. ) 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!! しゃしゅしょ!!
We’re going to show you the character(s), 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, 「しゃ」 is transliterated as「sha」which sounds sort of like the word 「shah」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Just as in the previous lesson, it’s important to remember this is one singular syllable when spoken. Rather than the incorrect ‘✖Shee-yah’, it is pronounced as simply ‘〇shah’. With time, it will become easier to automatically see characters ending in a い vowel next to a tiny ヤ行, y-row, character which automatically negates the い vowel, leaving you with a proper blend.
Also, you’ll notice that when romanised in revised-hepburn, it shows the pronunciation rather than the spelling. This is another instance where it’s very important to learn how to read the hiragana spelling as only simply seeing ‘sha’, though it may leave you with a half-way decent pronunciation, you’ll find it impossible to recognise in its actual Japanese form. So, now that you’re learning it, you’re already ahead of the curve, now! Good on you!
**NOTE: You’ll sometimes see this romanised as ‘sya’, but you won’t have to know this for quizzes, here.
In romaji, 「しゅ」 is transliterated as 「shu」which sounds sort of like the saying the English word「shoe」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
You can use the sound of the English word’s equivalent in order to get used to the single syllable of 拗音, youon！When many say ‘shoe’, there’s no gap betwixt the ‘sh’ sound and the ‘yu’ sound. So, just be sure to keep the middle 「い」sound out of the equation when you encounter it with a small 「ゃ」「ゅ」or「ょ」
**NOTE: You’ll sometimes see this romanised as ‘syu’, but again, you won’t have to know this for quizzes, here. Just a helpful note.
In romaji, 「しょ」 is transliterated as 「sho」which sounds sort of like the word「show」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
There’s not much more we can add that we haven’t said in the previous hints, however one helpful hint is that you’ll often find this one paired with う in長音, chouon. So, it’s important to always be able to differentiate whether it’s simply しょ, romanised 「sho」, or if it’s been romanised with a long vowel as in original Hepburn with the macron above: 「shō」which can be confusing as to know whether it’s 「しょう」or 「しょお」! However, you needn’t worry about that after you learn to read hiragana. Though, this does bring up 長音, chouon, which is a useful concept you can read about in our previous article: 長音とは？｜What is chouon?
**NOTE: You’ll sometimes see this romanised as ‘syo’ on some Japanese sites which you won’t have to know here, but it’s just an interesting shorthand for the ローマ字, roomaji, input which is helpful for typing, but not so much for beginners trying to understand the pronunciation.
And, there you have it! That was 「しゃしゅしょ」! With only a few to learn, it shouldn’t be too terribly much to practise, however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it the care and attention it deserves. You’ll need to keep these concepts properly differentiated between their hiragana gojuuon counterparts as well as future 拗音, youon. But, we know that if you’ve already made it this far, your mind is already expanding to the point where we know you’ll be able to memorise these and utilise them with time! It’s all about revision, patience, and a positive attitude. Whether you study often in shorter time periods or with spaces between for longer times, it’s all about exposure. You want to keep these fresh in your mind and once they’re concrete, you’ll want to contrast them with their similar counterparts to face the difficulties head-on so that you can more easily differentiate. And, no matter what method works best for you, we’ll be there for you every step of the way, providing you with the resources you need, on your Japanese language learning journey.
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