How To Remember Extra Vowels, Glottal Stops, Etc

What I do is, when I’m learning a new kanji or vocab item I will say the readings (both on’yomi and kun’yomi in the case of kanji) out loud a few times, and I deliberately exaggerate the pronunciation those first few times. I let the こう stretch out nice and long, I cut off the こ sharply, and I make sure to make the difference the small っ makes sound through very clearly. And every time I fail a review because of those differences, I repeat the ritual.

(If I’m in company I won’t pronounce the readings out loud, but I still do them in my head and do the same exaggeration a few times.)

That way, the pronunciation sticks a lot better for me. Just make sure to do the pronunciation normally when you’re actually speaking Japanese :slight_smile:

This works for me, your mileage may vary of course.


(Touche! But they aren’t glottal stops in cases like いっつ)


I also recommend to try to stop thinking in romanji even though you can’t escape that fully in IME.

For small tsu, I find it easier to memorize 学校 as がっこう rather than gakkou or even gakkō.

I think it has something to do with how doubled kanas and big tsus rendaku into small tsus.

for distinguishing similar sounding long and short sounds, I try to vocalize for example と as short and dynamic to and extending とう as toooooo without gluttal stop. Take extra note for words using お as extender and remember them by rote.




I don’t think that’s a good solution for most people. We here at WK because we don’t like this stuff (and want our mnemonics). Natural reading and speaking practice is nice, but this is too forced (for me). But whatever works is fine

I’m sure there are some general rules for it, but after a while you’ll start seeing some patterns, and will get a feel for when the little っ will appear. A good thing it’s that once you establish a pattern, then it’s likely that it’ll be true for most cases.

A lot of times つ, ち, し and くhave some combinations that’ll make them go all っ.

Btw, I used to mess up きょ with きょう a lot, so I just use the Little Old KYOtou versus the Modern Big KYOUtou :stuck_out_tongue:

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Sure on WK you have mnemonics for everything, but I wonder if there is such thing for every morae in Japanese, designed for your as mnemonics.
Also I wasn’t talking about natural speaking, but listening repeating after audio files. As whether this is a good solution or not for most people I cannot judge, I just happen know lots of unfortunate guys who mastered Japanese this way.

I’m too am trying to solidify a pattern/ritual myself to go forward into the program.
I realized I was doing nothing other than letting the lessons and reviews come to me on-screen; meaning I wasn’t doing any other effort. I started using the Reading Notes and Meaning Notes features every time to either simply repeat (type in) the same definitions and synonyms, or more frequently, adapt the mnemonic to a more personal meaning. That, along with some idea twist, I do use a kind of bastardized phonetic romaji with separators and it’s been helpful for me.
Soon, another thing I need to get into are the suggested supporting resources to help reinforce, especially for speaking.
But I get you on the ko, kou, u - and I often overthink and take away the correct answer on the reviews.SamuraiJack

I mess these up so much, since they’re both places and I’ll mix up the mnemonics.

Kyouto doesn’t have an u on the end


Yes, I had a system where every first mora was a person and every second mora was an object, so じょ was Jo Frost, Supernanny and じょう was her wearing ugg boots!

I still use it here and there, but it was a whole new system to remember, when I was already struggling to remember WK stuff.

It was only for the 音読み readings, though which are only ever 1 or 2 mora, so no っ to deal with.


Fun fact: 東京都 differs in meaning depending on how you read it.

東(京都) = ひがしきょうと = East Kyoto
(東京)都 = とうきょうと = Tokyo Metropolis

Point is, though, they both end with a short と.



I keep forgetting that kyoto isn’t written as 京東 (reverse of 東京)

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I don’t know how helpful/practical this is, but consistently listening to and using the language is what helps me remember the kanji readings. Without context, it can take me ages to remember tricky readings.

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romaji is evil. remember the mnemonics in ひらがな。I repeat romaji is evil.
Writing tokyo as ときょ would be weird in hiragana but easy in romaji. Again, romaji is evil.


Listen more. If you know exactly how a word sounds then writing it in kana should be no problem.

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Another thing to remember is that Japanese is very rhythmically regular. Each kana (usually) represents one mora, or “beat,” meaning that you will spend approximately the same amount of time pronouncing each kana. So:

  • こと koto has two “beats”; you take as long to say the ko as the to.
  • コート kouto, has three “beats”; you pronounce the kou for about twice as long as the to.

It might help when you’re first learning to really focus on enunciating the elongated vowels. Make sure to prounounce ko-oh-to instead of just koh-to. It’s not exactly accurate pronunciation that way, but it’s at least getting it in your head that the longer sound is there in the word.

Similarly, the sokuon っ is pronounced for a full “beat” itself, which is basically just a hesitation before pronouncing the next sound. Usually, it gets inserted in a compound in place of a normal kana (often つ or ち) when the normal kana would be awkward to pronounce in rapid speech. Make sure to enunciate that full “beat” of hesitation when you’re pronouncing the word.

A slightly confusing thing if you’re trying to count “beats” is that the small glide consonants like ょand ゅ do not form a separate beat, even though they look a bit similar to っ. In other words, きょうと kyouto is still just three “beats”: kyo-u-to.


Well, “Tokyo” is not really romaji - it’s just the westernised version of the city’s name.


Do you do any memory stuff? Looks like an adaption of PAO. :smiley:

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It is an adaptation of PAO; I don’t do competitive memorisation, but I did read “Moonwalking with Einstein” as recommended by another member who also had trouble with some of WK’s mnemonics (there has since been an overhaul of them).

If you’re into memorisation techniques yourself you may find the following interesting (NB - credit for all the data crunching that led to both the chart and the frequency list goes to fellow user rfindley):


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