Is it strange to enunciate in Japanese?

This is my first time learning another language and I quickly noticed that there were a lot of what appeared to be silent vowels, for example the i in Shi, the u in Su.

After awhile I realized these were not silent, just not enunciated. In the same way the English is often spoken.

With English though, a very good English speaker will enunciate everything and it doesn’t sound strange in any way, it just sounds like they are more experienced with speech.

I can’t tell if it is the same with native Japanese, for example if I always enunciated the word DeSu and never dropped the u, would that just come across strange or do good speakers do this?

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Here’s a pretty good explanation of the general rules for the unvoiced I and U vowels:

As far as the pronunciation of です goes, the u is often devoiced and pronounced as “dess” when it’s at the end of a sentence, but sometimes speakers will pronounce the final u – it can come off as a sign of emphasis and change the nuance in how the sentence is being received, and if anything it can add some personality/flair into what the speaker is saying ^^

Same goes for -ます in verbs, the u at the end is sometimes enunciated to make it come off stronger


I’m kinda having a hard time imagining your “all enunciated” English and how it would differ from English. Assuming it still sounds normal.


I’ve learned with Japanese, due to the two languages being completely different it’s not always a good idea to try and parallel them. Some things like full enunciation just don’t work in Japanese like in English, just the same there are a lot of things that don’t work in English that work in Japanese.

English does a similar thing:

Actually, I’m pretty sure Japanese doesn’t have English-like stress or vowel reduction. Devoiced vowels and vowel reduction aren’t the same thing. Japanese has pitch accent to express stress, which works very differently from English which uses volume and syllable length (in addition to pitch) for stress.

Ok so if someone consistently enunciated it might sound like they were trying to emphasize all their sentences. This could be somewhat similar to when it is used most in English. Like when giving a public speech, podcasts, rapping, etc.

There is a huge difference in the way English sounds when every t and d are enunciated where they are normally dropped.

That why I said similar (in the sense that when we speak we modify the pronunciation of phonemes based on the “environment”), not “the same” (because you are right, vowel devoicing and vowel reduction are not the same thing).

I think “heavy” devoicing is also a bit of a Tokyo dialect thing that is not quite as common in other dialects, where e.g. です might regularly be pronounced with voiced “u”.


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