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Terminology — Pronunciation
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English: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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Unlike English, the Rōmaji representation of Japanese words are generally consistent in pronunciation. Most syllables and words end in a vowel sound and there are no silent letters in the Rōmaji spellings. Thus, "shime" in Rōmaji is two syllables, not one as in English. There are five vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, and u. The vowels generally have only one sound associated with them (see below).

In addition to the Rōmaji, the The Overlook Martial Arts Dictionary (entries #3) includes a traditional (English) phonetic representation to aid in pronunciation. We have maintained the western habit of inserting spaces in the Romaji to aid in both recognition and pronunciation where the spacing usually indicates the separation of traditional Kanji characters. (Japanese usage of Rōmaji does not include the spaces nor does it use capital letters.)

There are also places where the sound changes slightly or the character used to represent the sound varies. For example, harai begins with an "h", but the same term when used in deashi harai is sometimes spelled with a "b". Another example is "shime", which will sometimes appear as "jime". These are more often variations in the Rōmaji representation and highlight the differences between the sound repertoire of Japanese and English. We have cross-referenced these with "see also" when appropriate.

A note on accents: the accent mark indicates that the pitch of the remaining syllables in the word or the next word (if the accent is at the end of a word) is to drop.

a as in far ku like coo
chi "chee" as in cheek n as in never
e as in edible ni like knee
go as in going o as in coat
ha like haw ro as in rowing
hya is a sound between hi and a sa as in sock
i as in it shi as in sheep
ju as in June u as in root

For more detail on pronunciation go to the Japanese Language Site.


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