Tokyo female and male pronunciation

I’ve noticed occationally with some vocabulary, when I listening to the pronunciations the Tokyo accents sound different for female and male. Example: 女子 (じょし)
the female sounds like it’s reading (this holds true for all vocabulary so far)
the male sounds like he is saying じょsh (much like the English name Josh)
Am I hearing it correctly or is their a differance in how the genders pronounce things?


This may be a little aside from what you intend, but I have found it much easier to learn from female speakers, simply because they tend to enunciate better. I really noticed it Japan, now I notice it all the time. Older men are the worst. They garble their speech so much that if your are still a learner it can be very hard to understand anything they say.

There are certainly gendered speech differences, but somehow I never noticed them explicitly on the WK audio. A much more advanced listener than I would have to listen to them and see if they represent gendered differences.


I find it easier to listen to the female audio. The male audio tends to do that na for ga nasal thing. I think it is a regional dialect, not sure. I don’t understand different Japanese dialects yet, so I just want to learn the proper pronunciation for now and then be able to see different accents. So I mostly get that from the female audio.

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To be honest, the “nasal” thing is the proper pronunciation :slight_smile: But nowadays the pronunciation changes more and more to the non-nasal variant, therefore you will hear it more in older people.

EDIT: I searched for more info on this and sure enough there is a thread already :rofl:


What you’re hearing with the male speaker is called devoicing. It’s not specific to one gender, but rather a general phenomenon in the language. I think there’s some level of individualism here, which could explain why the two speakers are pronouncing the word differently.

To give a specific example, you’d generally pronounce わたし with a voiced し. However, when it’s pluralized to わたしたち, the し is generally devoiced, making the し sound more like “sh” than “shi”.


This is interesting, do you happen to know anything more about how this phenomenon came about? If so, could you elaborate?

I’d guess that it mostly came about simply because it’s easier to say. But I don’t know if that’s actually the reason. Others on the forums know more about historical reasons for things like this, so maybe someone else can give a more definitive answer.


In Canadian French, we may also unvoice high vowels when they are between two unvoiced consonants. It’s just easier to pronounce.
Most native speakers aren’t even aware of it.

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I am far from knowing a lot about it, but I wanted to add an interesting observation:

Usually, the polite verb ending ます is pronounced “mas”. But if somebody wants to be really polite (e.g. speaking to their boss or something), they also pronounce the trailing u and it becomes “masu”.

Therefore this devoicing feels a bit like slightly more casual speech to me. Of course there are many speech patterns that one can apply to make the language gradually more casual, until you get to a full-blown slur or contraction.

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Yes, this is something I noticed as well. Nevertheless, I was thinking that there perhaps may be a third dimension to the enunciation.

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Ah yes, and also in Canadian French the “t” can become “ts”, so instead of “Gatineau” you have “Gatsneau”.

I’ve never heard Canadian French spoken, but it sounds pretty different from Metropolitan French. Is the difference closer to the difference between BrE and AmE? Or English and Scots?

The rule is, /t/ and /d/ are affricated to [t͡s] and [d͡z] before /i/, /y/, /j/, /ɥ/. So that’s why we say poutsine [put͡sɪn] instead of poutine.

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It’s different enough that if we speak to Metropolitan French people without changing our way of speaking, they will barely understand us.

But you can understand them?

Yes, this happens because they are never exposed to our accent. Given some time, they can learn to understand us. Our accent is not largely different. It’s just a matter of exposure.

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I see, so it’s kind of an amplified version of the same barrier between BrE and AmE. Are Canadian French people exposed to Metropolitan French a lot though?

Kids’ shows use standard French which is almost the same as Metropolitan French so we are exposed to it at a really young age. (I’m sorry to derail from the main point of this thread)

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One thing to note when learning a language is that it’s hard to separate a dialect from an idiolect, especially when your main listening input is from a small number of sources.

Kenichi and Kyoko both speak standard Tokyo dialect but they do each have their own way of speaking.

There’s a bit of both. Listen to the audio on 賢い

The devoicing of し is present on both, but for Kyoko the sound is produced closer to the front of the mouth while for Kenichi it’s closer to the back. You can tell because Kyoko’s version is slightly more sibilant.

I’ve found this to hold for all of the audio recordings where Kenichi speaks almost entirely from the middle and back of the mouth. I’ve also found this to be more prevalent in male speech, but keep in mind that Kenichi’s use of the nasal ng may also account for it.

Yeah, you can hear this on something like 正座

Kenichi tends to draw the vowel sound out more, almost like a Southern Drawl in American English, although it’s much less pronounced.


Yikes, I barely hear the differences on those examples. What tends to trip me up is when Kyoko and Kenichi don’t agree on the pitches
Take 竜巻 (tornado) for instance.
Kyoko keeps the 3rd syllable at the same pitch as the second and goes down on the 4th, whereas Kenichi goes down on 3 and keeps 4 the same. There are plenty of examples in WK vocab for this. It makes me very curious to encounter the words elsewhere.