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Speak Japanese: Sounds and Phrases    

You'd like a little bit of a Japanese "language lesson"?   The first thing to remember is that Japanese pronunciation does not include accents on any syllables. To pronounce "temari", try this:

    TE - (teh) as in TElephone or TElevision
    MA - (mah) as in MAma,
    RI - (ree) as in tREE (a long 'E' sound; try to flip or roll the "r" if you can) - note and remember that "i" in Japanese Romanji is always pronounced like a long "e" in English: "ee"

It has come to be accepted that "Te" means "hand" and "mari" means ball; it is usually used in this form, standing alone. Temari "ball" or "balls" tends to be redundant. It is usually used in the same form regardless of singular or plural - thus one Temari, or many Temari. Capitalization is a Western concept, so the use of a capital T in other than the start of a sentence is optional. Technically "temari" is an adjective meaning "to wind by hand", but the resurgence of the art has propelled the word to noun use and status.

Japanese pronunciation does not use dipthongs; that is, each vowel sound is individually pronounced. For example, the word "kudasai", meaning "please": Western tongues would combine the "ai" into one long-a vowel sound. Not correct in Japanese; that "sai" is two syllables: "sah" and "ee".

Some other common words and phrases, just for fun:

Thank you = arrigato (ah-ree-gah-toh)

Thanks = domo (doh-moh)

Big thank you = domo arrigato

Thank you very much (present tense)= domo arrigato gozaimas (goh-zah-ee-mahss)

Thank you very much (past tense) = domo arrigato gozaimashita

Please = kudasai (koo-dah-sah-ee)

You're welcome = doitashimashite  (doh ee tah she mah she teh)

Excuse me / pardon me = sumimasen (soo-mee-mah-sen)

I'm sorry = gomen nasai (goh-meh-nn-nah-sah-ee)

1st greeting of the day (sort of like "good morning", but not quite) = ohaioh (oh-ha-ee-oh)

Last greeting of the day (sort of like "good night", but not quite) = oyasumi nasai (oh-yah-soo-mee-nah-sah-ee)

Day-time greeting = koinichiwa (koh-ee-nee-chee-wah)

Evening-time greeting = konbanwa (koh-nn-bah-nn-wah)

What is that? = Na ni desu ka? (nah nee dess kah)

Where it is? = Doko desu ka? (doh-koh dess kah)

Bye! = sayonara (sah-yoh-nah-rah)

Very Happy Birthday (really, birthday congratulations very much)  = Otanjobi omedito gosaimas (oh-tan-jo-bee oh-meh-di-to go-za-ee-mas)

Don't mention it! = Doitashimashite! (do-ee-ta-shee-ma-shee-te )     

With thanks to  Sue H. and Sarah R., Sr.


Last updated 12/2013 © 1998 - 2014 G. Thompson/PuffinStuff, Inc.