こんにちにゃあ～！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! We’re your guides to Japanese language and culture coming at you with a hot carafe of curated characters! We’re continuing with the next modified blend. Last time, we introduced you to 「きゃきゅきょ」’s modified set 「ぎゃぎゅぎょ」 wherein we emphasised the importance of keeping your palate refined, being able to differentiate characters. But, of course, this has been a constant in our time together, but we always like to be sure to remind you that we’re not just waffling about, here. It can be easy to have these blends and even other characters in the beginning of your studies start to blend together themselves. During 平仮名五十音, hiragana gojuuon, there were a few characters that we were sure to point out in order to be sure you didn’t trip into a pitfall on your excursion out into the bright new world of Japanese language. That’s why even though we do our best to present the information to you along with methods to study them, it’s important to suss out how you personally make sense of these characters. That’s why we always recommend isolating them first, then working on the differentiation so you don’t get overwhelmed or mix anything up. But, no worries, we’re sure with time, patience, and a bit of effort, you’ll be able to master these characters! And, today, we’ll be introducing yet another set of characters that you’ll encounter quite often. We’ll be introducing you to the modified version of「しゃしゅしょ」, otherwise known as 「じゃじゅじょ」！
So, again, you may have noticed there were many sounds that you may have heard before that didn’t seem to be covered quite yet. This leg of the journey, we’ll be introducing you what you may even consider a modification of a modification at this point. But, if you’re just starting out on your Japanese language learning journey or you’re simply dabbling in Japanese for fun, we recommend getting the full sort of genome of what we’ve taught previously. You may have learned the concept of 平仮名五十音、hiragana gojuuon, or you may have hopefully even kept up with us to understand the concept of 平仮名拗音、hiragana youon, but this time, you’ll need to combine this concept with 濁点, dakuten. But, what is dakuten? No worries! We have an explanation built into one of our previous lessons entitled: 「🔊 Let’s Read!! w/ QUIZBO™ 【がぎぐげご】| 濁点とは？| What is Dakuten?」. Or, perhaps you’ve already learnt the first characters and the modified characters but you’ve fallen behind and aren’t exactly sure what 拗音、youon, are. In such case, first, you can read exactly 「What is youon?｜拗音とは？」and then you can simply go back and revise the previous sets before combining those two concepts with our current lessons. These include:「きゃきゅきょ」, 「しゃしゅしょ」、「ちゃちゅちょ」, 「にゃ、にゅ、にょ」 , 「ひゃひゅひょ」,「みゃみゅみょ」, and 「りゃりゅりょ」. But, the simplest way to put this is that this is indeed a modification of a blend. That’s why it’s important to first have a strong understanding of each of these concepts along the way, because once these concepts start to stack on top of one another, it can become less than simple.
It’s important to reiterate 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!! じゃじゅじょ!!
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, 「じゃ」 is transliterated as「jya」which sounds like 「jah」
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
The most important thing to learn this lesson is that this is not pronounced ‘JEE-YAH’, it’s simply ‘JYAH’, one syllable. This is very important to get accustomed to, and we understand it can be difficult. That’s why we have this helpful hint! When you see a tiny ヤ行, y-row, character next to a character ending in the い vowel, ignore the い vowel and only pronounce the consonant. So, even though it’s 「じ」, it becomes the「J」sound when it’s next to tiny ゃ、ゅ、or ょ.
In romaji, 「じゅ」 is transliterated as 「jyu」which sounds sort of like the 「ju」 in 「juice」 .
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
This is a useful way to think of these 拗音, youon！Notice, when you say 「juice」, there’s no gap between the 「j」sound and the 「u」sound. Be sure to ‘mind the gap’ when you’re attempting to say these blends, properly blending them together into one syllable without saying the vowel in the middle.
In romaji, 「じょ」 is transliterated as 「jyo」which sounds like the name「Joe」… Who’s Joe?
Helpful Hints with Kiki+Koko:
This is another sound that can be difficult for many English speakers to break the habit of pronouncing as two syllables rather than the correct single syllable. That’s why we made an article explaining why ‘Tokyo’ is a myth, being two syllables in English instead of three– 「Tou-kyou」. So, in pronouncing this and practising this word, you can practise pronouncing these blends as one smooth syllable. (Even though this is a different character, this can still be helpful to anyone who still finds it difficult to blend these sounds.)
And, that’s how you read「じゃじゅじょ」！It can be easy to miss the 濁点, dakuten, and mix these up with 「しゃしゅしょ」as such a simple looking character may not have ever made it onto your often revised/studied characters. But, again, we’re sure with more exposure with this set of characters and the activities that we’ll provide for you, you’ll be able to master these. As we always mention, in the same way as you can differentiate「C」and「G」along with 「b」「d」「p」and「q」in English, we’re sure you’ll eventually be able to differentiate these currently presented characters in Japanese as well.
But, if you do happen to experience anything that makes the differentiation of those English letters more difficult, there’s always a way to help in Japanese! When you take your notes, we’ve been told that it’s helpful to colour code notes to keep them from seeming like they’re all mashed together in a mess of lines. And, even still, for anyone, this can be very helpful for anyone’s notes, as it can really help you differentiate. Of course, when it comes to real-world application, you’ll have to take off the stabilisers from that bicycle, but in the meantime, it really can just help you get your mind wrapped around the concept visualising it that way. But, of course, learning is always more than just one of your senses! So, stay tuned as we’ll continue to provide for you more ways to not simply survive in Japanese language, but to thrive, and then even to relax and enjoy.
The first steps of your journey may be through some obstacles, but just as in any journey, once you understand yourself and how you learn, you can really start to take advantage of it and make things more enjoyable. It’s all about a positive attitude and realistic expectations! If you’re ever overwhelmed, take a quick break and come back to it when you’re in a better headspace. If you learn best with very strict learning, then set a schedule. If you thrive in a relaxed environment, make your study space a relaxing oasis where you can sit back and enjoy your studies. If you don’t do well with too much structure but you really want to at least try your best at learning, then just take a little bit of time every day and sort of scroll through the site. Of course, it’s important to actually engage, but at least getting the gist of things can be a start, and then you can find yourself recognising more and more without even realising it. But, all in all, Japanese is a language that is from its own language branch, and of course, there are loan words and even similar words and similar grammatical structures, it’s always important to note that this is totally different to almost anyone’s native (non-Japonic) language. So, if it ever feels totally new and different to you, that’s natural. And, we mention this because you’re already doing something totally new and different and learning a little bit more today than you knew yesterday, and you should be proud of every step you make whether it’s just a few new words you can say, a sentence you can make, or finally getting the hang of saying 「りゃりゅりょ」(seriously, don’t ever feel too badly if it takes you a long time for your mouth to be able to pronounce these in a native accent, it can take time, and that’s okay!) No matter what you’re doing, as long as you’re trying your best, we’re proud of you! All we know is that we want to be sure we can be there with new references and helpful hints every step of the way on that journey that you’ve made the decision to embark on.
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