〈3〉1-2 The language you speak like you sing !?

  〈3〉  ◆ chap 1  “ What a strange language Japanese is ! 

                                  part 2.  The language you speak like you sing !? 




In Western languages and Japanese, not only the order of the words are reversed, its accent is further different. Unfortunately, not many Japanese people are aware of this. I  just happened to learn this during the announcer training at NHK (in a painful manner…).

                                                                                         na mi
                                     tsu na - mi                                tsu

One example. "Tsunami" became a word internationally known, but in foreign news, it is usually pronounced like "Schuna-mi". Maybe you can not avoid pronouncing "Tsu" like "shu" and if so, still okay. But the real problem is the difference in the accent..


  Yes, the accent between Japanese and foreign languages is completely different !


Westerners stress the word "tsunami" on "Na" of “schunami". That is, "Na" (where is located) gets pronounced strongly, and all others become weak sounds. Yes, in Western languages, the basis of pronunciation is strength. That's why the name "Tanaka"' is also pronounced like "Mr. Ta-NAH-ka!". From the meaning of the word "accent", it may be natural. But these days, many Japanese people seems to pronounce their name with Western accents during the conversation with foreigners.



However, in Japanese, there is no such strong-weak accent like them. If I'm forced to say, the intonation in Western languages functions as the accent in Japanese (they are not exactly interchangeable though).

             In other words, when pronouncing "tsunami" in Japanese is,               


                                                                 na  mi                                                      
                                                      tsu


¨tsu¨ is low-pitch,  ¨na¨  and ¨mi¨  are high. This is exactly the music. It is not the five-line staff score, but two lines. By the way, if the bottom sound is C and the top tone is E in the music, the "tsunami" will sound like "C E E"(do mi mi).

                                            _   _
            Let's write it as ¨ tsu na mi ¨ from now on. (the line refers to high-pitch)

Each Japanese word has such high and low pitch (and further complications with dialects like Kansai dialect etc…), so that they get connected and become a sentence. In case of "When I went to Japan, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom"


                       _  _  _     _          _  _ _      _  _  _    _        _ _ _ _
                   watashiga nihon ni itta toki, sakura wa mou mankai deshita. 

                                      In other words, It is pronounced as

                                CEEE CECC CEEEE, CEEE EC CEEEECC.


It is very difficult for foreigners, because from their customs, it is pronounced like this,

                                                                                     
                   watashiga nihon ni itta toki, sakura wa mou mankai deshita. 

it can not be helped, the pronunciation method is totally different.



A long time ago, when my teacher of Spanish (Japanese person) visited Basque country in Spain, where well known for their unique language, two men were quarreling loudly over there. One was from Basque and the other from Madrid. The Basque guy insisted  "Our pronunciation is totally different from Spanish!", The Madrid denied, "No way, it is the same!"


Then the Basque guy pronounced   “ ×  !”, and told “Repeat this !”.

The Madrid imitated   “   ! ”, and said “ It’s easy! ”

And repetition of " Different ! ”, " No, it is the same! "...


Then the Basque guy found my teacher was watching them, and he asked, "Maybe you are Japanese?" As soon as the teacher nods, he approached joyfully and begged him this way.

                                      "Sorry, could you say " ×  " ?"

Heard the pronunciation of Japanese teacher, he jumped up and told the Madrid.

 "Look, the pronunciation of Basque and Japanese is completely different from yours!"

                       This is a very important point for learning Japanese.


So when I teach Japanese to foreigners, I often ask them to sing the songs like Japanese nursery rhymes. Because I have heard that many composers melodize the pronunciation of lyrics written by lyricists as much as possible. They seem to think that they want them to sing like talking.

Let's take a look at an old nursery rhyming song, "Ringo no Hitorigoto”. There are occasional differences, but on the whole, it is composed in accordance with the accent of spoken words.

                                         — —   —  —             — — — —
                               ♪   WATASHI WA MAKKANA RINGO DESU-  ♪
                                                 (I am a bright red apple)

                       


                    So, in conclusion,   Let 's speak Japanese like singing! 



Yes, Japanese is like a music, let's enjoy it like a musical by going back and forth between treble and bass !


                    Next time, 4 th,  Chapter 1  What a mysterious Japanese!

 I am going to deliver  No. 3 “Onomatopoeia Pandora’s Box”.  See you next time !!

    ◎  If you want to read this blog in Japanese, click here  ↓

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