How far do you go when pronouncing Japanese words in English?

As in, when speaking English (or any language other than Japanese), how do you pronounce words from Japanese?

I assume most people on here pronounce it the way it’s generally pronounced in the language they’re speaking, but I would like to get a consensus on this.

Personally, I like to sneak in Japanese pronunciation wherever I can as long whoever I’m talking to can still understand what I’m saying. For example I’ll pronounce the tsu in tsunami (instead of sunami) because people will still understand me, but I will say sakura with the English pronunciation.

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When I’m talking about places or food I always use the Japanese word and pronunciation (if I keep saying onigiri maybe my friends will finally stop calling them rice balls…). Other than that Japanese words don’t come up enough in my day to day conversations :thinking:

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I’ve had to practice a lot to fix my Japanese pronunciation so I often end up saying things the Japanese way (as much as I can) by default. This isn’t always the best thing because sometimes people don’t understand me or I sound kinda pretentious like people who say French words properly in the middle of English sentences. So sometimes I say it “wrong” on purpose just to make it sound less weird. It feels really icky to say certain words the American way, like sake or sakura though.

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It depends… if the word is already an English word (borrowed from Japanese) I usually pronounce it the English way because that’s the correct way. Sometimes I pronounce things the “wrong” way regardless because if I use the Japanese pronunciation (especially with the Japanese r) no one will know what I’m saying. But it kinda makes me cringe when I do that. As I said, it depends though. So for example, “manga” I will pronounce the Japanese way, but “anime” I pronounce the English way.

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Normally with my usual accent. It feels obnoxious to me to say things in the accent of the language they’re from when I’m actually speaking English. Like people who feel the need to adopt a French accent when they say “croissant”.

There are some words though which are still kind of in the process of being imported, or people clearly aren’t sure how to say them anyway, where I will err on the side of Japanese pronunciation. Like the various ways I hear “sake” pronounced mean I have no idea what the British pronunciation is ‘supposed’ to be anyway. Sarkay? Sarkee? Sackay?

While writing this I realised you’re perhaps asking about pronunciation exclusively while I’ve answered partly on the accent side. The thing I find obnoxious is switching accent mid-sentence for one word. But, even on the pronunciation side, I’m not gonna start talking about “Toukyou” to my parents. That is well and truly “Tokyo” in English.

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Tokyo is a great example. At this point it’s a word properly imported into English, so why confuse things by saying it the Japanese way.

For sake, most people in America pronounce it “saki”, which kinda bugs me.

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When speaking French, I pronounce them the French way which is still better than the English way. For example karate is pronounced like in Japanese but with a French “r”. Same thing with karaoke. Tsunami sounds pretty close to the original too. Tokyo is pronounced in two syllables but two short ones.

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I will fight anyone who says To-ki-yo.

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How about Ki-yo-to? :slight_smile:

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Yeah. I don’t say Tokyo with a Japanese cadence, but I do say it to-kyo and refuse to say to-ki-yo.

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That’s a paddlin’…

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Watashi thinks that anata should always use tadashi nihongo pronunciation. Ai (that means love)!

Ahem, sorry about that. In seriousness, I think I probably mix it up a lot. My problem is that my house is bilingual, so we all mix up our sentences in English and Japanese. I’m the worst culprit here.

I remember though, when I first came to Japan, I met a fellow Canadian who had been here for quite a while. He would speak to us in English but he always said Canada with a Japanese accent. He was shocked when we called him on it.

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Almost always. Same for German, which is mostly to annoy my 'murikan coworkers. I work for a German company, so of course I pronounce in German.

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I usually prefer to say things as they’re pronounced in English to avoid embarrassment from it sounding strange even if I’m pronouncing it correctly. Then I occasionally embarrass myself by forgetting I can pronounce things normally when I speak with other JP learners. On rare occasions I’ll catch myself saying something the Japanese way by default. But there are some times that doesn’t apply. A friend of mine pronounces ホカゲ as “ho cage” and the first time I heard him say it I spat out laughing because it never occurred to me someone would pronounce it like that. I will always pronounce it the correct way. So I guess I have this weird hybrid thing going on.

An ironic contrast is that to me, the Gib lee way of saying Ghibli sounds so natural to me that I always say it as that in English even though I know the correct pronunciation is ジブリ。

A good point and I feel the same. Tsunami is so entrenched in English that its fine, but for other rarer words that aren’t said on a regular basis, it feels so wrong to my core to say them in an anglicized way.

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Australians are terrible at this, lots of emphasis on the final ‘I’, and with me this comes up a lot. I was congratulated by someone in a blinds and shutter store who had spent some time in Japan who was relieved I didn’t pronounce it saki.

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Not saying To-ki-yo just makes you sound like a tool, so I stick with it.

But I do say Ko-bay instead of Kobi. Maybe it’s just a matter of being here.

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most of my friends say Kai-o-to and it drives me nuts

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I think if you really drew out those ‘elongated’ vowels you’d sound pretentious, "To-U-kyo-U, but if you say To-kyo at normal speed I’m sure most people wouldn’t even notice you’re not actually saying “to-ki-yo”.

And being Canadian, all my o-sounds are actually ou-sounds, so that kinda helps me sound less weird.

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How does one get kai-o-to from kyoto? :thinking:

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I think they’re breaking it like ky・o・to instead of kyo・to

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