Help learn Japanese terms

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hwmikemiranda
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Help learn Japanese terms

Post by hwmikemiranda » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:01 am

I would like to learn how to pronounce Japanese Mahjong terms. Is there a resource out there that you found particularly helpful? My experience with speaking Japanese are the numbers 1 thru 10 from karate class.

Phonetic Japanese using English letters and a pronunciation guide would be most helpful.

If it can also help with Chinese, even better.

Thank you.
I'm a Mahjong enthusiast. Can I be called a Mahjong otaku?
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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Iapetus » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:07 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:IPA_for_Japanese

In the Japanese language, a written letter (or kana) is always pronounced the same way. Unlike english where 'a' could be pronounced as 'a', 'ei' or 'ä' depending on the word. So once you've learned those couple dozen letters, you'll know how to pronounce every term.

A good way to learn is to watch Akagi and Saki. They almost always list the yaku and points, so you'll get to hear how they are pronounced.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Kyuu » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:19 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh0brmqq4sk

This guy made an excellent tutorial to mahjong. While y'may know how to play -- he has gone through various terms in Japanese. Especially, there's a separate video on the Yaku.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by wavemotion » Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:43 am

Kyuu wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh0brmqq4sk
This guy made an excellent tutorial to mahjong. While y'may know how to play -- he has gone through various terms in Japanese. Especially, there's a separate video on the Yaku.
These 4 videos were extremely helpful in learning the words and pronunciations. Along with Saki and Agaki. It helps to have a video game which is highly vocal - games like the iOS Janryumon use a number of the more common terms verbally and it also goes through the incantations at the end of the game listing all the Yaku.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Referee » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:25 pm

Japanese, unlike Chinese, has a short list of sounds, and as it's been said, the same thing is always pronounced the same way... almost.

Vowels: As in Spanish or other latin languages. As in "are there three or two?", or in other words, ah eh ee oh oo. (But their order is different, a i u e o)

Consonants: No clusters at all, vowels, generally 'u', are inserted to avoid that. A consonant always has a vowel after it, but 'n' can work alone (double consonants ok). There can be vowel strings, but no diphtongs. (aoi -> 3 syllables)

h is always aspirated, g always as in 'goal', s is always unvoiced. si becomes shi, ti becomes chi, tu becomes tsu, hu becomes fu. ye, yi, we, wu, wi don't exist. consonant list is k, g, s, z, t, d, n, h, b, p, m, y, r, w. Some other things like 'kyu' are accepted, but it is fairly regular, too.

Anyway, this was a short guide in pronunciation. If you have more questions, feel free to ask. If you want to translate a foreign (ie, non-Japanese) name, pronunciation is what counts, so 'Mike' becomes 'Maiku'.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by wavemotion » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:30 pm

Referee wrote:Japanese, unlike Chinese, has a short list of sounds, and as it's been said, the same thing is always pronounced the same way... almost.
Having watched a lot of Mahjong anime, movies, pro TV competitions and lots of video games I can say that I've heard Riichi pronounced several distinct ways. My favorite is the shortening of the 'chi' so that it sounds somewhat like REACH! Most everything else has been pretty much the same pronunciation across the board.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Referee » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:33 pm

Yeah, the length of vowels is that 'almost'. They can be shortened to almost non-existence, but they are there. Another thing you can't gather from the written text is where to put the stress.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Shirluban » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:47 pm

The Japanese language is based on syllables (kana), which can be grouped in 10 series of 5 syllables:
  • The first series is vowels: a i u e o
  • In others series, the syllables are made of "a consonant + one vowel".
    It have almost every combination of {k s t n h m y r w} with {a i u e o}.
    For example, the k series is: ka ki ku ke ko
    • Some of them have a different pronunciation and transcription:
      The i syllable of the s series ("si") is "shi".
      "ti" is "chi" (pronounced "tchi").
      "tu" is "tsu".
      "hu" is "fu".
      The "r" consonant is pronounced "rl" (in intermediate sound between "R" an "L").
    • There aren't any yi, ye, wi, wu, we.
  • There is an "extra" syllable: n
There is also some syllables combinations:
  • The k, s and t series can be voiced:
    ka ki ku ke ko becomes ga gi gu ge go
    sa shi su se so becomes za ji zu ze zo ("ji" is pronounced "dji")
    ta chi tsu te to becomes da ji zu de do (idem, "ji" is pronounced "dji")
  • The h series can be voiced and semi-voiced:
    When voiced, ha hi fu he ho becomes ba bi bu be bo
    When semi-voiced, it becomes pa pi pu pe po
  • The vowel part of a syllable can be prolongated by putting the same vowel immediately after:
    "kaa" is a "ka" with a longer "a" sound. It can be written "kaa", "kā", "kâ", in some cases "ka~", or by some lazy guys "ka".
  • "o" sound are generally prolongated with an "u" instead of the expected "o":
    "kou" is "ko" with a longer "o" sound. It can be written "kou", "koo", "kō", "kô", in some cases "ko~", or by some lazy guys "ko".
    (:evil: In some languages, like French, "kou" can be used to transcribe "ku", because the Japanese "u" sound match with the French "ou" sound, not the French "u" sound. :evil: )
  • The consonant part of a syllable can be made "harder": "kka" is a "ka" with a more marked "k".
  • The "i" syllable of each series can be combined with "ya", "yu" or "yo" (written smaller in Japanese) to give an intermediate sound:
    "ki+ya" gives "kya"
    Beware! "kiya" (きや) is different than "kya" (きゃ).

Well, my post is more harsh than I expected, so here is a list of the Japanese syllables:

Code: Select all

+--------------------+--------------------+
| Basic syllables    | Voiced syllables   |
+--------------------+--------------------+
| a   i   u   e   o  |                    |
| ka  ki  ku  ke  ko | ga  gi  gu  ge  go | <- It's a "hard" G.
| sa  shi su  se  so | za  ji  zu  ze  zo |--------------------+
| ta  chi tsu te  to | da  ji  zu  de  do | Semi-voiced        |
| na  ni  nu  ne  no |                    |--------------------+
| ha  hi  fu  fe  fo | ba  bi  bu  be  bo | pa  pi  pu  pe  po |
| ma  mi  mu  me  mo |--------------------+--------------------+
| ya      yu      yo |
| ra  ri  ru  re  ro | <- More like "RL".
| wa              wo | <- "wo" is like "o".
+--------------------+
| n                  |
+--------------------+

Combinations with little ya/yu/yo:
    | ya   yu   yo  |
----+---------------+
ki  | kya  kyu  kyo |
gi  | gya  gyu  gyo |
shi | sha  shu  sho |
ji  | ja   ju   jo  |
chi | cha  chu  cho |
ni  | nya  nyu  nyo |
hi  | hya  hyu  hyo |
bi  | bya  byu  byo |
pi  | pya  pyu  pyo |
mi  | mya  myu  myo |
ri  | rya  ryu  ryo |
----+---------------+
Cats don't do タンヤオ (tan-yao) but タニャーオ (ta-nya-o).
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Comparison of riichi rules around the world

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Re: pronunciation

Post by or2az » Thu Sep 18, 2014 4:23 pm

Note: I wrote this up as a new topic before I discovered this thread so I decided to just move it here without edit.

Is there a website where the correct pronunciation of japanese mahjong terms can be found?
After listening to some of jenn and garthes' jongcasts, I find I am saying some incorrectly.
For example;
mangan is not man-gan, but mahn-gahn
pinfu is not pin-fu, but peen-fu
iipeiko is not eye-pea-ko, but ee-pay-ko
haneman is not hane-min, but hun-ee-mahn

Now that I have actually spoken to people who play mahjong, I need to make more of an effort to pronounce terms correctly, something I never really had to think about before. Chances are I won't get all of them exactly right, but every little bit helps.
Toi-Toi and ippatsu are easy but what about tanyao. Is it tahn-yow? or tahn-ee-oh? or tahn-ee-ow?
I found an app where you write the english and a japanese male speaks the word.
It sounded like 3 syllables, the middle choice, I think. I'm finding this to be somewhat helpful.
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I have been placing the emphasis on the "ba" in shibari when it should be on the "shi".
Same with yakuman. I was stressing the "ku" instead of the "ya".
The pronunciation section in Barts guide has also helped, (tenpai is spoken as tempai), but as for ryan, It states y is as in "yet" and r is somewhere between an R and an L sound. Not sure on this one.
If you can think of other terms that are commonly mispronounced, I would appreciate some guidelines.
I know it's not easy without a microphone.
(my latest one is that kazoe is kah-zoh-a and not just kah-zoh)

Addendum: I have subsequently watched that 4-part 3-hour excellent you-tube video mentioned above by kyuu.
The oral explanation of the rules and terminology pronunciation was interesting and very informative.
Ryanpeiko sounded like the R was silent (yahn-pay-ko).
Tanyao was only 2 syllables (tahn-yow). Are both of these correct?
I guess it depends somewhat on who's doing the talking, or maybe on how I'm hearing it.
One more thing; referee states above, "Another thing you can't gather from the written text is where to put the stress". For example, kuisagari= koo-ee-SAH-gah-ree, emphasis on SAH, but how would you know that? Probably not a simple answer. Might involve taking a course in Japanese language.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Senechal » Thu Sep 18, 2014 7:56 pm

English consonants, Italian vowels. Thread solved.

</sarcasm>


Seriously though, if we're going to pick apart stresses and syllables, small bit of advice:
  • Tanyao is 4 syllables. For language purists, it should be written "tan'yao" to avoid the nya confusion. I guess you can say the "yao" in one breath or say "ya o"... -- The key is how long did you say "tan"? Whatever you do should match that length, two for two.
  • Unless you know stress rules, and to be fair, I don't know them properly either... try not to. Otherwise, the first syllable usually works... and sometimes the first syllable of a character in a compound. "Hashi" is the only thing an intermediate student will care about. -- Never say "shiBAri".
Other common courtesies:
  • Don't say fan, unless it's in the expression "fanpai". While a lot of the lingo in Japanese Mahjong is japanized Chinese, it's not Chinese. -- If you're not Chinese, don't do it. Yaku are measured in han, not fan. Yaku are also by the way not the same concept as han/fan.
  • There is no g in "pon" or "kan" or "ron". Chii is never pronounced "show (showtime, blame France)" nor "chow (chow down on food)". -- If you really care about the Chinese version of a retroflex chi, it's like saying "chernobyl", i.e. with an English schwa. Keep it for Chinese games.
  • When calling, make a bloody difference between "pon", "ron", and "kan". -- In many circles, words speak louder than actions: getting them wrong is an annoyance to your opponents. I can almost forgive Russian speakers for mistaking "pon" as "ron", but there's no excuse for people who speak latin character-based languages. None. Consonants are beautiful: use them.
  • To understand Japanese Mahjong lingo, it takes at most 50 things to remember to be comfortable, and on the high end, 100... 150 if you'r really diving. 10 of those are Japanese digits. 10 more are japanized Chinese digits. -- The language barrier is as high as learning Hello World and "x = 1; y = 2; z = x + y; print z;" in any programming language. That alone should encourage you, not discourage you from learning it.

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Re: pronunciation

Post by Ignatius » Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:26 pm

or2az wrote:
Addendum: I have subsequently watched that 4-part 3-hour excellent you-tube video mentioned above by kyuu.
The oral explanation of the rules and terminology pronunciation was interesting and very informative.
Ryanpeiko sounded like the R was silent (yahn-pay-ko).
Tanyao was only 2 syllables (tahn-yow). Are both of these correct?
I guess it depends somewhat on who's doing the talking, or maybe on how I'm hearing it.
One more thing; referee states above, "Another thing you can't gather from the written text is where to put the stress". For example, kuisagari= koo-ee-SAH-gah-ree, emphasis on SAH, but how would you know that?
Probably not a simple answer. Might involve taking a course in Japanese language.
The R on Ryanpeiko should be pronounced, but maybe depends on people. Also the O is a long O. But usually is pronounced short in most anime/manga. This thing with the short O, also happens with other yaku as San An Kô.
So you can expect somoe people can say this last O, short, others will go with the correct thing, a long O.

Tanyao in japanese is divided in Ta-n-ya-o. In english, the japanese "a" is like "are"´s "a". The "o" is like the o in "howl" or "word"

Man, I´m glad I´m spanish, I do not struggle on how to pronounce japanese mahjong terms. For me the japanese vowels are the same as my mother tongue ones. Also most consonants are the same.

I´m a lucky guy...

The fact I´m currently studiying japanese also helps.

It´s a shame I have not a voice recorder... If I had one I could upload voiced yakus or something...
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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by gemma » Fri Sep 19, 2014 7:52 am

Google Translate actually doesn't do a bad job of pronouncing these words. If you say them the way that woman says them, you'd definitely be understood.

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Re: Help learn Japanese terms

Post by Ignatius » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:25 am

gemma wrote:Google Translate actually doesn't do a bad job of pronouncing these words. If you say them the way that woman says them, you'd definitely be understood.
First time I hear Google Translate being actually useful.

I tried, just out of curioristy with the word Tanyao and Pinfu, and the sounds were somewhat weird, sounds kinda unnatural, but more or less, is ok.

Using this, and hearing pronunciations on Youtube or Nico Nico Douga mahjong games or animes, should help a little.
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