Japanese Phonology Chart (with IPA)

Listening to the two, I find the voiced labio-velar approximant to be a bit “harder” or “sturdier” or “more pronounced” than how I hear the sound in Japanese, while I find the voiced velar approximant to be a bit “software” or “relaxed” or “pulled back” than what I usually hear in Japanese.

One thing I’ve discovered is that, to me, Japanese sounds tend to both feel and sound like they are “tight” sounds trying to “loosen up.”

All of this is my poor man’s way, apparently, of saying this:

Or, at least, something like it.

That’s my understanding of it.

Ahh interesting. I don’t know what lip compression refers to though, but I wonder if ɰ is used instead of w because the lips don’t move.

I do, without a doubt. One of the teachers I had on iTalki drilled it into me, since I had made the mistake (and knew it was one) of rounding my lips too much.

The sides of your lips kind of close, but without really pursing them. It’s like you’re going to start making the voiceless bilabial fricative, but also not quite. For me, it kind of feels like trying to smile without actually smiling, while at the same time, trying to frown without really frowning. Unfortunately, It’s a bit hard to explain without a video, and the amount of closure can vary quite a bit depending on the speaker, even among natives.

Hmm, the compression might explain my description of the sound above?


Also, here’s Wikipedia’s description of it:

When compressed, it is pronounced with the side portions of the lips in contact but with no salient protrusion. In conversational speech, compression may be weakened or completely dropped

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Your explanation of it is really descriptive! Thanks very much! Does compression also apply to ɯ then?

Definitely. This is actually the sound I made the error on, but during the explanation, she showed me that happens for both.

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She sounds like a very good teacher

I think so. Unfortunately, I only had a couple of lessons with her.
Our schedules ended up not meshing. :frowning:

Good news, though, I’m starting up new lessons on a consistent schedule today! :slight_smile:

That’s too bad, but best wishes for your new lessons! :smiley:

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Thanks, and thank you for the chart!
I was thinking about making one myself, so… Seriously, thank you so much!

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It’s close enough to get away with in normal speech. :wink:

One thing that really helped me was watching Japanese people who had a tendency to keep they’re teeth closed almost the entire time while speaking. It really forced me to evaluate how what I was hearing was voiced.

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I’ve never noticed anyone speaking like that, but now I’ll have my ears open for it.

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This video is an example:

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The one that still feels weird to me is ん before S-sounds. I get closing my throat like that before vowels so it doesn’t get mistaken for something else. But when ん is before S, it still feels so much like I should make the same “ns” sound as in English. That’s the sound that I hear in native speech too.

Some days it’s tempting not to even try and sentence myself to sounding a little gaijin forever.

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It actually is closer to the English ns than the regular Japanese n is normally specifically for that combination, although it’s still a bit farther back in the mouth than normal. In general, n before a sibilant consonant is a bit further front depending on the speaker.

The WK recordings are really good to listen to in this respect because Kenichi’s n’s are farther back than Kyoko’s so you get a good contrast when listening.

That also highlights a shortcoming of a pronunciation table in that there are going to be differences when you hear actual words and sentences because of the physical placement of things, such as the m sound when you have a plosive after an n sound.

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