So this is the second part of the hiragana lesson and it is considerably easier to read because it is (slightly) shorter and there are fewer characters to learn. Plus you’ve seen them before and they follow an easy pattern.
Here’s a new chart which has the contracted hiragana:
You have a full sized character ending with an i sound (き ki, じ ji, に ni) with a small やya, ゆyu orよ yo ending. Like this:
きゃ = Kya
しゃ = Sha
にゃ = Nya
Using the hiragana charts from this lesson and the previous one try and spell Tokyo. Perhaps you will get To kyo: ときょ
Well sorry to disappoint but you’d be wrong. The English way of spelling it is like this: Tokyo
The Japanese (Hiragana) way? Here: とうきょう
To spell it properly you’ll notice the extra: う
In rōmaji, it is spelt Tōkyō because it has elongated vowels (that’s what the lines above the o’s indicate).
So what’s with the extra letter in Tokyo (English) and what are the lines above the os? Well the lines above the o’s in the rōmaji are macrons and both that and the extra u indicates that you hold the vowel sound a little longer. Like this To-o-kyo-o, just make the sound smooth or you’ll sound like your singing.
Here are some examples of elongated vowels and contracted hiragana:
とうきょう Tōkyō: Tokyo
ゆうびんきょく Yūbinkyoku: Post office
しょうらい Shōrai: Future
Here’s a guide to elongating the sounds:
To elongate: a, add another a = aa.
i, add another i = ii.
u, add another u = uu.
e, add a I = ei.
o, add a u = ou.
You’ll be glad to know it’s simpler in katakana but that’s for the next lesson.
A Quick Note
One thing I should have mentioned in the previous lesson was how some of the hiragana changed their sounds:
か き く け こ が ぎ ぐ げ ご
Ka Ki Ku Ke Ko Ga Gi Gu Ge Go
You can see that the change in sounds is indicated by two small strokes at the top right or a small circle to get a p sound.
When you see this in a word, just pause slightly before making the next sound. In rōmaji you’ll see the doubling of the next consonant:
きって ＝ Kitte pronounced Ki_tay (Stamp)
ちょっと = Chotto Cho_ to (Please)
まって = Matte Ma_tay (Wait)
One thing I probably haven’t made clear enough is that all you have to do is join the symbols together to make words. I think I need to include more examples in upcoming lessons but for anybody that requires a few testers try these sounding these out.
Once you’ve mastered even a few sounds you can make a myriad of words. Example:
いぬ Inu – Dog
かさ Kasa – Umbrella
でんわ Denwa – Telephone
おじ Oji – Uncle
じてんしゃ Jitensha – Bicycle
りゅう Ryū – Dragon
You’ll be amazed at what you can read once you’ve learnt hiragana (plus you can impress the uninitiated with it). Here is an examples of it in use in an anime:
Next lesson: Katakana and I’ll dig up a pronunciation guide.