入る vs 生える pronounciation

As per the title I’ve just been given 生える in a lesson and the pronunciation to me sounds just like “to enter”.

Am I missing some subtle difference? I feel like 生える is slightly different, but enough that I’d be able to tell.
Is this one of those situations where if you were speaking and using that, context would help as opposed to just the word?

Sorry if this is a silly question, if you’ve seen how long I’ve had this account and what level I’m on I’m not the fastest learner in the world.

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“Hairu” and “Haeru”
Maybe take a look at both their pronunciations again and compare, it’s hard to explain over text but to enter is more sharp and haeru flows more

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The pitch accent also differs. 生える is more nakadaka and 入る sounds more like atamadaka.

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I’ve listened to the audio files, male and female, for both words. The え and the い are very distinct from each other. I’m not sure why you’re hearing them as the same sound, but I suggest just repeatedly playing the audio repeatedly switching from one to the other, until you can pick up the sound difference.

1: WaniKani / Vocabulary / 生える
2: WaniKani / Vocabulary / 入る

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Thanks guys, I’ll get both records and practice. I guess there is a difference. I think its because where I’m from people will say the same words in wildly different ways so to be this precise is quite alien to me.

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I think the problem is that in the English romaji, the words would be pronounced the same. In English a vowel followed by another vowel will (generally) cause the first vowel to shift to a long sound and suppress the 2nd vowel, therefore “Hairu” and “Haeru” are not different when read in English, and that colors the way you hear them.

Japanese doesn’t have this feature, they just sort of run the vowels together, so you need to listen closely for the distinct vowel sounds.

But realistically, Japanese has a ton of words that sound exactly the same, so context will be important regardless.

One way to try and hear the difference is to think of one as hai+ru (入る) and the other as ha+eru (生える). Try to hear that when you listen and it may help to disambiguate them.

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This is really good advice! Also phonetically this makes more sense, I think. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I have the impression there is a slight shift in verbs from the core kanji to the kana after.

Worth mentioning that in spoken Japanese the ae sounds can get squeezed into i so you might hear an i in 帰る sometimes. But that still wouldn’t be the same i sound as in 入る.

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Japanese has diphthongs though, sounds made by combining vowels. はい as in yes comes to mind quickly. There are plenty of words where the vowels don’t become diphthongs though and stay their respective sounds.

Hmm? I’ve always heard Japanese has no diphthongs.

You should get Wanikani’s pitch-accent script. It’s really good.

I don’t know how relevant this is, but there’s an imabi page regarding this, with this note about /e/ and /o/ sounds specifically:

Aside from the positions being slightly different, the Japanese /e/ and /o/ are not that much different. Though, one important detail to not overlook is that these vowels are never diphthongized in Japanese. Meaning, when you pronounce them, the vowel quality is maintained and does not shift to another vowel in the vowel space. This is obligatory for many vowels in English but it is forbidden for all vowels in Japanese. This is something that English speakers in particular have a problem with understanding and should be something that you take especial attention to.

and the general case of monophthongs and diphthongs:

Japanese vowels are usually always pronounced as monophthongs because they essentially remain unchanged. The word “eye” was used as an example to find an equivalent to あ. However, the word “eye” is pronounced as a diphthong and the Japanese vowel is only equivalent to that sound’s onset. Diphthongization does exist to an extent in Japanese. For example, the combination あい is often not so moraic and resembles a diphthong depending on the speaker. To test whether this is true or not, you would have to examine individual speaker variation.

https://www.imabi.net/japanesephonology.htm

edit: although someone else seems to dispute this:

A diphthong is a slide from one vowel to another as in the English word “rain”. The vowel in this word is written as [ei] in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This [ei] is considered a single vowel, a slide from an e-vowel to an i-vowel. Therefore “rain” has only one syllable although it has two vowel letters. The Japanese language doesn’t have any diphthongs. Two consecutive vowel letters simply indicate two separate vowels and hence two separate syllables. For example, the word “Inoue” (a common family name) is pronounced as four syllables: i-no-u-e, with four hand claps: clap-clap-clap-clap (See rule 1). Consequently, long sequences of vowels aren’t uncommon in Japanese words, such as “Aioi” (a-i-o-i, a placename) and “aoi ie” (a-o-i-i-e, a blue house).

http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/users/furue/jp-pron.html

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I would mostly agree with that assessment. Mora timings seem to preclude the slide often associated with diphthongs although it can sound like a diphthong if you say it fast enough.

That’s the problem with English: “rain” isn’t always a diphthong. :wink:

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That’s how my Japanese Linguists professor called them. We studied how they behave with suffixes, although I don’t remember the takeaway of the effect of suffixes in this case 🤷

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