Silent letters

do japanese have silent letters in words?

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Thank god no


There’s a thread specifically for questions like this so you don’t have to make a hundred different individual threads.

Also, is your question about devoicing?


I was always curious about this, why write on a thread instead of creating a new post?


It creates an easier, centralized place to search, find and get answers to questions rather than hundreds of disparate threads. Same reason people create FAQ sections.

Obviously not every questions must or needs to be asked in an existing thread, but many of this poster’s topics barely warrant creating a half dozen or more individual threads.



ぢじゃんご Unchained

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Actually, sometimes vowels get dropped. As @athomasm posted.


Can’t call that voiceless though, in my book voiceless is basically gh in English
You write it but never pronounce it what’s so ever

As others have said, sometimes vowel-sounds are dropped, like in です.

Most Japanese people don’t produce the う sound at the end of す, so it sound like “dess.” However, the character itself (す) isn’t silent, the “sss” sound is still pronounced, it’s just the last bit gets dropped because it isn’t needed to be understood.

So the answer is technically no: there are no silent letters, but some sounds aren’t pronounced. Another example is in the phrase 確かに (certainly), where the い sound is dropped, making it sound like “tash ka ni” instead of “tashi ka ni.”

It’s also worth noting that some people, especially those who live in Tokyo, apparently, don’t drop the う sound even at the end of words, so sometimes it sounds like they’re saying “dessuu.”


This is a bit nitpicky, but vowel devoicing isn’t the same thing as dropping sounds. Many learners of Japanese pronounce words like です as simply “dess”, which is incorrect. The す at the end is still pronounced, but the vowel is devoiced. This is done by shaping your mouth as if you were going to say the vowel, but then breathing out sharply without engaging your vocal chords. The difference is subtle, but quite noticeable.

I’m not sure which Tokyo dialect you mean, but I know that in Kansai-ben 関西弁, they very rarely devoice any vowels.

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Yeah, my Japanese teacher makes sure to stress this so that people don’t get the wrong idea that you should say words like ‘desu’ as simply ‘des’. It’s an important, if subtle, difference to a non-native ear.

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