Question about Pronunciation Process

Hello! This may come off as a rather odd question (ahh, I feel so self-conscious asking it, haha) but as I’m speaking, usually practicing singular words, I seem to get a bit breathless in trying to pronounce things correctly, or my breathing process just feels disrupted. In order to have a more correct Japanese accent, you have to really cut the sound at the end of words (as opposed to English, which is more fluid, in my opinion.) Japanese is more blunt in pronunciation, so to say. This doesn’t always happen, but the ending of some words or sounds simply just don’t feel right when I try to say them, as I said, more blunt sounding.

Does anyone have this problem, or have run into it in the past? Help would be awesome.


I’m not sure I know exactly what you mean, but I would just say to remember that speaking is a physical process that requires training of your mouth muscles (and whatever else is directly involved in making sounds of course). As such, it’s normal to expect that completely changing how you do it will take repetitions, like if you were learning how to play a new sport, or juggle or something.

No one would expect to pick up 3 balls and start juggling just because they’ve held 1 ball before, and that’s kind of what speaking a foreign language is like.

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Thank you. I’ll make a quick edit to the post to clarify what I mean.
I will definitely keep practicing!

I think I know exactly what you are talking about, and I thought the exact same thing when I started learning Japanese.

I’m not sure what you are listening to exactly, but this sound phenomenon struck me as very obvious when I was listening mostly to the WaniKani vocab audio files. They are single words in isolation, which is what you said you are listening to.

My best guess is that in Japanese, because the length of a vowel can change the meaning of a word, the vowels at ends of words that are supposed to be short are cut off in the throat (the glottis to be exact) so that the vowel does not sound elongated, thus changing the meaning or the emphasis of the word. So, the single-word WaniKani vocab recordings are pronounced that way for the sake of the clarity.

But, in a conversation, those words would be in context, with other words on both sides, and thus flow into one another a lot more naturally. So, I think part of the “breathlessness” you are feeling should go away once you start putting longer phrases together. Japanese speakers definitely don’t. end. each. word. abruptly. when. in. conversation.


Hello! I’m not sure I’ve ever had the problem you describe, but I may be able to offer a little advice in addition to what was already provided.
The key to learning to pronounce any language is practice, of course, but there’s a bit more to it than just trying to learn a few words or phrases and trying to replicate them. Like Leebo said, you have to re-train your throat and mouth muscles to balance your new language differently, and one of the best ways to do this is through learning actual put-together sentences. For instance, I’ve never really had difficulty because I learned my Japanese pronunciation through music which flows freely between words, rather than just being one after another with a full stop between them. Like CDieterle said, this may help with that breathless feeling, as may really focusing on what part(s) of your mouth and throat you’re producing sounds with. It sounds a little to me like you’re almost working too hard to make the sounds, which shouldn’t be the case because Japanese is spoken higher in the throat and more toward the front of the mouth than English. It’s difficult to train your brain to be able to feel all of this, but with practice I’m sure you can. :slight_smile:


Yes, I agree with the above. Get some romaji lyrics, find a favorite song, and practice singing it and mimicking the accent and rhythm as closely as possible. Just get a feeling for the sounds. It’ll help you get a sense for how Japanese rolls.

I’d specifically recommend trying the Fruits Basket opening (“tatoeba kurushii kyou da to shitemo…”) and ending song (“tanoshii yuube…kyou no namida wa hora…”), or Kare Kano’s opening song (“YOU MAY DREAM masshiro na koi wa tsubasa ni naru…”) or the ending song (“sagashimono wa nan desu ka? … yume no naka he”), or the vampire anime Karin’s ending song “Mou Hitotsu no Baasudei” to start out with. Those use somewhat slower-paced and very natural sounding if slightly exaggerated Japanese in rhythm and pitch, and they’re somewhat short.

Thank you, I’ll check those songs out. I actually do very often sing in Japanese (Natsu Matsuri by Whiteberry is one of them, stumbled upon that sweet tune somehow…).

Yeah, I definitely have some changing to do in how I speak. It does seem like Japanese is spoken more naturally with a slightly higher tone than English. In using WaniKani as a main source of pronunciation audio, I do tend to not actually incorporate a vocab word into a sentence, more just repeat what the audio is saying (so a singular vocab word). And to be quite honest, yes, I think I am working too hard haha. It’s a rather bad habit…*sigh

Thank you for the advice!!

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Wait I was supposed to reply to another person but it was addressed to you. Ignore that if you get some kind of notification lol.

I’m glad you understand what I’m getting at. To clarify, I was listening to WaniKani’s pronunciations. And I agree, once those learned words are placed into actual sentences, everything will be much more fluid and natural. So the words sounding so short in WK’s pronunciations are for clarity, and sort of deviate from their natural sounds, then.

Thanks so much for the help!

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