Japanese Pronunciation Vs. Katakana

As a native English speaker hearing non-natives (especially Asians) attempting to speak the English language I sometimes can’t assist however chuckle, or cry, over the way they slaughter the words. As I presently reside in Japan and comprehend the Japanese writing system I have actually concerned comprehend, in one word, why they tear apart the English language … Katakana!


Katakana is among the 4 Japanese writing systems. The other systems being Kanji (the characters ((not cartoon)) you see on tattoos), Hiragana, and Romaji (the Roman alphabet). The early Japanese written language originated from China. This system is called Kanji. Through the development of the Japanese language it became required to implement Hiragana which is utilized for words of Japanese origin and Katakana to help in the pronunciation of Kanji.


Still further into the development of the Japanese written language, Katakana began being used to help Japanese people pronounce borrowed words from other languages. At this time, the language which has actually the most borrowed words transcribed into Japanese is English. It is necessary to keep in mind that the Japanese language does not consist of the sounds “L”, “R”, “V”, “Si” (as in “See”), “Hu” (as in “Hoop”), “Th” (as in “Thank”), and “Zi” (as in Zebra). There are a couple of other phonetic noises that are not initially included in the Japanese language, however through the more development of the Katakana composing system the Japanese individuals have the ability to pronounce the foreign sounds almost like a native speaker.


Another point worth noting is that the Japanese system phonetically combines 2 of our English noises per character with the exception of the “N” sound. As an example of this let’s take my name “Scott” and assault it with the Katakana system. “Su Ko Tto” is the basic end result of my name in Japanese. You can see the extra “U” and “O” have been included due to the fact that of the 2 noises per character from the Katakana composing system. In fact if I am to say my name as it need to be pronounced the Japanese perceive it as the word “Skirt”. Yes, numerous kids have actually had their fun with my name in this regard.


You might think that the Romaji system would save the Japanese from unnecessarily abusing the English language however it does not. Though Japanese children are taught the Roman alphabet at a relatively young age, their school teachers usually teach them the alphabet’s pronunciation using Katakana due to the fact that 1: it is much easier to teach the children that way and 2: the Japanese teachers are not able to make the right distinction and pronunciation themselves.


As kids mature without knowing the appropriate phonetic pronunciation of the English words they slowly lose the capability to hear and differentiate in between them. Quickly enough words like “Rice” and “Lice”, “Sip” and “Ship”, “Than” and “Dan”, become the same to the Japanese ear. Though the famous tongue tornado might be difficult for us, hearing a Japanese individual saying “She shells she shells by the she shore” over and over again (and believing they are stating it properly) is quite humorous.
What should we do about this? Put an end to English words being transcribed by the Katakana writing system. Have well certified and ideally native English speakers teach Japanese children the actual noises of the Roman alphabet. If we work together we may simply be able to stop the Japanese abuse of the English language.   S.B.

sayonara