August 4th, 2005


Help with spoken Japanese :)


If nobody in our vast audience knows (and, as always!, anyone who can see this is welcome to speak up), I'll prolly go bug people on their own pages (I'm lookin at a gorgeous artist and her suave actor friend, hyere), but I've hit a snag on pronouncing Japanese (yes, alas, learning from books for now) -- & I bet someone can aid my undeserving self.

That dash over a vowel (like the "long" vowel sign when we were kids) is called a "macron" -- okey-doke, got it. What I'm not getting is what its presence means for actually pronouncing a word:

1. It counts as an extra syllable in poetry, which made me think it was basically (if quickly) aspirated twice -- like a Japanese double-letter is (e.g. in jiin (not related to jii -- though come to think, maybe it is*)). Buuuuuut...

2. Most texts seem to suggest it's simply aspirated longer -- so the macron'ed "o" in Basho's name just means "hold the o a little longer than you would normally."

3. Then again, for all I know it could be a key to pitch, which seems widely variant in the films (& anime) we watch. (The one thing I do know is it's not a stress emphasis. I am only about 93% underinformed.)

So...anybody help the poor old non-salaryman?

These things are important! One of my cats is called Shinju (no macron, means "pearl"), and shinju (macron over u) means "a double-suicide"! The consequences could be catastrophic if she misunderstands me one day thanks to gaijin ignorance!!! :0

Arigato (complete with macron).

93 93/93 -- AJ

* Clearly I'm getting off-color (if not blasphemous) Japanese joke! =)