こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! We’re bringing you a fresh cuppa with a special bendy crazy curly straw of celebration! Sip carefully, now, it’s hot off of the carafe. This lesson is as equally momentous as it is a bit dangerous on the beginner’s tongue. This time, we’ve reached a new mini milestone! (Though, every milestone is a giant leap when it comes to learning a new language.) If you’ve been climbing up the mountain along with us, guiding you through these steps and flavoursーand jumping from metaphor to metaphor at speeds you’ve never experienced beforeーthen you’ll have reached the milestone of experiencing all of the ungarnished hiragana blends! You’ve encountered the sharp attack of「きゃきゅきょ」, the smooth mouth-feel of「しゃしゅしょ」、 the biting grip of「ちゃちゅちょ」, the palatal caress of「にゃ、にゅ、にょ」 , the spicy hiss of「ひゃひゅひょ」, and the velvety texture of 「みゃみゅみょ」. It’s as if all of these have culminated to this mini milestone of epic proportions. This blend may be the most complex for beginners and even some intermediate speakers, but we’re sure you’re up for the challenge in this tongue twister of a blend. This time, let’s read: りゃりゅりょ！
We do want to not only take a moment to congratulate those who have made it this far, and to encourage those who are still working their way down the path (of which we’ll be there every step of the way), we also want to make an apropos callback. There’s something quite rewarding as your virtual teachers to mention something, swear we’ll explain it later, and then actually explain it later. It’s like following the breadcrumbs of a long form television drama, pointing to the telly and saying, ‘Hey…I know that one!!‘ Though our content is evergreen, we’d like to take you to a time we call the ‘before times’. Yes, Word of the Week was but a young segmentーand still isーand we presented to you with QUIZBO™くん a vocabulary word containing the blend, or 拗音youon, 「りょ」. Helpful Hints were much shorter and simpler back then, weren’t they? As it said on the tin, we assisted with the pronunciation of one of these often considered complex blends. ‘We will definitely get to blends in a future lesson’ we said. And, here we are! The future is NOW, friends!! Let this be hope for you eager long-time learners who have seen this prompt in the past, as lesson by lesson, we always get to it. And this is something you, too, should be mindful of in your studies:
Even though many may feel impatient when learning a new language, simply being so excited to learn everything at once, it’s important to take things little by little and bit by bit. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting overwhelmed and it could lead to putting you off the rails off the track that could have led you down the path towards a rewarding destination. If learning was a chocolate cake, or a parfait, or whatever sweet treat you enjoyーor some prefer bittersー except the treat has…some sort of amazing positive benefits, not just empty enjoymentーBut, we digress. The point being, you’ll enjoy something more and get a better experience if you ration it out. When it comes to learning, your mind simply stores things more efficiently if you go bit by bit and then revise/review. Taking on too much at once can feel almost discouraging. But, if you just decide one day that you’re going to start this journey, it just takes learning a few things every week, a few things every day, and you’ll have learnt more than if you’d have simply dove into it and maybe even got burnt out. It’s about the slow burning flame, the long runーthe marathon, not the sprint. If you’re late to the party, ( which it’s never too late to join) then you’ll have the ability to simply run through all of the lessons. But, this would only be useful for someone revising. There’s a method to the madness of rationing out the lessons in digestible serving sizes. And, now, it’s up of you to not make a meal of it.
But, making mistakes is part of learning, and this only becomes increasingly important as your studies continue. Now, it’s practising pronunciations, down the road, it’ll be trying out some idioms that might not land or synonymous words that might not be the exact word choice you intended. It’s that moment of correction after putting it out there that lets it stick in your mind. Don’t let yourself ever be embarrassed if you make a mistake, funnel that into fueling and amplifying your desire to do better the next try. Japanese is literally part of its own language branch, and even people who are speakers of their own native language aren’t always scholars. But, you can be, if that’s your goal. Reach for the stars, and appreciate every bit of space from one step to the next because that’s where the journey lies!
Before we wade into the lesson, we always feel it’s important to reitterate that 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™. (We’ll have the blends and more included soon directly in the guide.)
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!! りゃりゅりょ!!
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, 「りゃ」 is transliterated as「rya」which sounds like「lyahh*」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Out of all of the blends, this is one that relies heavily on remembering the extensive explanations we gave regarding the Japanese ‘R/L’ sound and combining that with our explanation of how to properly pronounce blends. So, first, be sure to start with Let’s Read!! w/ QUIZBO™ 【らりるれろ】(+Japanese 「R/L」 sound + Helpful Hints!) if you need any assistance with the first consonant sound. (Otherwise, we would simply repeat ourselves here.)
So, once you understand the nuance of the Japanese ‘R/L’ sound that lies in the middle of a rolled R and an L, you’ll want to practise transitioning from that sound to the next within one singular syllable. It’s very easy to accidentally give this two syllables, so if you haven’t had troubles with the previous ones, this still may be one to pay very close attention. The reason why is because of the tapped R sound which you want to slide ride into the 「や」sound without breaking. For this, we almost recommend beginners simply pronounce it as an L, 「lya」, as it’s a smoother transition. Then, start to combine it with a D sound, 「dya」, without having it cross into jya territorry, as this is an entirely different blend. But, the goal, here, is just trying to roll the L as an R without actually rolling, again, more of a tap, and then doing your best to transition to the 「や」。So, not ✖ree-yah, simply〇ryah, keeping the い vowel out of the equation completely.
This can be very tricky, but keep at it! This just takes practice, patience, and muscle memory, and eventually, you’ll be making beautiful blends.
In romaji, 「りゅ」 is transliterated as 「ryu」which sounds like 「lyew*」or 「lyuu*」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
Again, if you’re having trouble with the R/L sound, start with the lesson:Let’s Read!! w/ QUIZBO™ 【らりるれろ】, then do your best to combine that with your previous 拗音, youon, skills. Again, the only real challenge you must overcome, what has brought you here after all of your blends training, is keeping the 「い」sound out of this. It has no business in this blend and will only change the flavour to the point of no return. Think of words like new, hue, view, mewーyour goal is to fit the Japanese R sound at the beginning before the 「ゅ」.
In romaji, 「りょ」 is transliterated as 「ryo」which sounds sort of like 「lyohh*」.
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
There isn’t much left to add that we haven’t already mentioned in the previous ones, but we will give a helpful hint that has proven useful to pronouncing this blend:
「The 「ryo」sound is a quick blend between an R, that is tap-rolled on the roof of the mouth, more like an 「ryo」. In order to make this sound, try to practise saying the English word「leo」, making the 「e」shorter and shorter until it turns to 「ryo」.」
ーfrom Japanese Word(s) of the Week w/ QUIZBO™ | 【旅行】(+Helpful Hint)
And, there you have it! That was 「りゃりゅりょ」! All of your blends training so far has brought you to this moment. It’s quite fitting that this blend is last ‘alphabetically‘ in Japanese. But, we know that with time, effort, and patience, you’ll be able to achieve the proper pronunciation of 「りゃりゅりょ」! Don’t feel the need to rush the process, again, it takes time. Perhaps you’ll suddenly begin saying it perfectly, but more likely, this will be a process that will happen over time. This sound is very different for many native English speakers, but if you clear your mind of all that you thought about the letter R or L or how syllables work in English and only focus on what’s been presented here, you’ll eventually immerse yourself to the point that it will start to become second nature to you. Over time, what may feel like a complex syllable will seem like just another character blend. Think back to the very first characters you learned to read and how second nature that may have become by now. Rather, think of learning your native alphabet, how you may have taken a bit to learn to read and write them, but once you grew accustomed to it, it became part of your norm. At the end of the day, it’s always important to remember all of the steps we take along the way, because sometimes it can be easy to only focus on your current position without realising all of the effort that brought you to that pointーor how even little steps when consistently taken can bring you farther than you may have imagined. We hope to continue to provide the resources you need to continue on that path towards success on your Japanese language learning journey.
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