'Contracted' Pronunciation question

A few particular word pronunciations on WaniKani are shortened or altered by the male voice (Kenichi) but not by the female voice (Kyoko).

処置撃つ (Shortening)

挙がる意外 (Nasal-g “ng” か゚)

Why is this? Is it a masculine/effeminate difference? Just a preference? or something else?

I don’t think the average Japanese speaker would notice such a contraction.

It’s called devoicing and nasalisation.

Usually words ending with consonant+/u/ are devoiced so that です>/dess/; きょうふ>/kyoufu/ あります>/arimass/

Devoicing in Japanese - Wikipedia


In many dialects, the close vowels /i/ and /u/ become voiceless when placed between two voiceless consonants or, unless accented, between a voiceless consonant and a pausa.[41]

/kutu/ > [kɯ̥t͡sɯ] kutsu 靴 ‘shoe’
/atu/ > [at͡sɯ̥] atsu 圧 ‘pressure’
/hikaN/ > [çi̥kaɴ] hikan 悲観 ‘pessimism’

Generally, devoicing does not occur in a consecutive manner:[42]

/kisitu/ > [kʲi̥ɕit͡sɯ] kishitsu 気質 ‘temperament’
/kusikumo/ > [kɯɕi̥kɯmo] kushikumo 奇しくも ‘strangely’

This devoicing is not restricted to only fast speech, though consecutive voicing may occur in fast speech.[43]

To a lesser extent, /o, a/ may be devoiced with the further requirement that there be two or more adjacent moras containing the same phoneme:[41]

/kokoro/ > [ko̥koɾo] kokoro 心 ‘heart’
/haka/ > [hḁka] haka 墓 ‘grave’

The common sentence-ending copula desu and polite suffix masu are typically pronounced [desɯ̥] and [masɯ̥].[44]

Japanese speakers are usually not even aware of the difference of the voiced and devoiced pair. On the other hand, gender roles play a part in prolonging the terminal vowel: it is regarded as effeminate to prolong, particularly the terminal /u/ as in arimasu . Some nonstandard varieties of Japanese can be recognized by their hyper-devoicing, while in some Western dialects and some registers of formal speech, every vowel is voiced.[ citation needed ]

Then the nasalisation of /g/ is pretty common in Tokyo dialect when が is the particle or the /g/ sound is mid-word.

G sound overview from Wikipedia

However, /ɡ/ is further complicated by its variant realization as a velar nasal [ŋ]. Standard Japanese speakers can be categorized into 3 groups (A, B, C), which will be explained below. If a speaker pronounces a given word consistently with the allophone [ŋ] (i.e. a B-speaker), that speaker will never have [ɣ] as an allophone in that same word. If a speaker varies between [ŋ] and [ɡ] (i.e. an A-speaker) or is generally consistent in using [ɡ] (i.e. a C-speaker), then the velar fricative [ɣ] is always another possible allophone in fast speech.

/ɡ/ may be weakened to nasal [ŋ] when it occurs within words—this includes not only between vowels but also between a vowel and a consonant. There is a fair amount of variation between speakers, however. Vance (1987) suggests that the variation follows social class,[11] while Akamatsu (1997) suggests that the variation follows age and geographic location.[12] The generalized situation is as follows.

At the beginning of words

  • all present-day standard Japanese speakers generally use the stop [ɡ] at the beginning of words: /ɡaijuu/ > [ɡaijɯː] gaiyū 外遊 ‘overseas trip’ (but not *[ŋaijɯː])

In the middle of simple words (i.e. non-compounds)

  • A . a majority of speakers use either [ŋ] or [ɡ] in free variation: /kaɡu/ > [kaŋɯ] or [kaɡɯ] kagu 家具 ‘furniture’
  • B . a minority of speakers consistently use [ŋ]: /kaɡu/ > [kaŋɯ] (but not *[kaɡɯ])
  • C . most speakers in western Japan and a smaller minority of speakers in Kantō consistently use [ɡ]: /kaɡu/ > [kaɡɯ] (but not *[kaŋɯ])

In the middle of compound words morpheme-initially:

  • B-speakers mentioned directly above consistently use [ɡ].

So, for some speakers the following two words are a minimal pair while for others they are homophonous:

  • sengo 千五 (せんご) ‘one thousand and five’ = [seŋɡo] for B-speakers
  • sengo 戦後 (せんご) ‘postwar’ = [seŋŋo] for B-speakers[13]

To summarize using the example of hage はげ ‘baldness’:

  • A-speakers: /haɡe/ > [haŋe] or [haɡe] or [haɣe]
  • B-speakers: /haɡe/ > [haŋe]
  • C-speakers: /haɡe/ > [haɡe] or [haɣe]

Some phonologists posit a distinct phoneme /ŋ/, citing pairs such as [oːɡaɾasɯ] 大硝子 ‘big sheet of glass’ vs. [oːŋaɾasɯ] 大烏 ‘big raven’.[14]


What you refer to as “shortening” is called “devoicing”. I don’t think either is right or wrong, though it’s certainly possible one is more common than the other for those specific words.

For example, look at the word 私 and 私たち. Notice that when is said by itself, the し is (generally) fully voiced. But when it’s part of 私たち, the し is (generally) devoiced.


Thank you @seanblue & @zyoeru for detailed explanation! “Devoicing” and “Nasalisation” are just the words I needed to look this up even further. So in general it comes down to preference and/or what is most common, thus sounding more natural. \(^o^)/

A small question though @zyoeru. The symbols used to represent pronunciation in your post. What are they from? ↓ ↓

/kutu/ > [kɯ̥t͡sɯ] kutsu 靴 ‘shoe’
/atu/ > [at͡sɯ̥] atsu 圧 ‘pressure’
/hikaN/ > [çi̥kaɴ] hikan 悲観 ‘pessimism’
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This is called IPA. The International Phonetic Alphabet

It’s what linguists and singers use to be able or map out and pronounce every language (or most of them) in the world.

More information can be found here.


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