Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

Recording karaoke using Audacity

2007 April 10

This post has been moved to “Recording karaoke using Audacity”. Please visit the new server.

The sound of kana ん (n)

2007 March 13

In Japanese, the kana ん (n) is considered a sound that can stand by itself. It sounds somewhat like “uhm”.

In normal speaking the ん sticks to the preceding kana. For example, りんご (ringo, apple) is pronounced “rin-go”, not “ri-n-go” (ri-“uhm”-go). Note that because ん is considered one mora (beat), “rin” (composed of 2 mora, “ri” and “n”) should sound longer than “go” (only 1 mora). The elongation is done by holding the “n” sound for a while.

However, in songs ん is oftenly detached and voiced by itself! This is very funny considering that the same thing doesn’t happen in Bahasa Indonesia and English. Consider Indonesian words like “jantan”, “makan”, and “jalan”. In songs (and conversation), they are always pronounced as “jan-tan”, “ma-kan”, and “ja-lan”. The same thing holds in English (e.g., “wo-man”, “ten”, “a-gain”, “A-me-ri-can”). ‘n’ never gets its own note.

An Indonesian or English song where the ‘n’ is forcibly separated would sound wacko. Try to imagine it… However enter the Japanese music world and a lone ‘n’ doesn’t seem weird at all… Two examples:

Anshinkan (Berryz Koubou): Nee itsu datte anshin shitai no yo (a-n-shi-n)
Aozora ga Itsumade mo Tsuzuku You na Mirai de Are! (Morning Musume): So donna toki mo jibun jishin shinjite GO (do-n-na, ji-bu-n, ji-shi-n, shi-n-ji-te)

Of course ん can also stick to the preceding sound like in normal speaking, so it all depends on the songwriter. In these following examples the ん isn’t separated:

Sakura Mankai (Morning Musume Sakura Gumi): aa sakura mankai, nee sakura mankai mune no naka (man-ka-i)
Lemon Iro to Milk Tea (Morning Musume): onnaji kuukan kuukan eiga no naka kansei kansei (on-na-ji, kuu-kan, kan-sei)

I’ve said that in speaking (conversation, speech, anything other than songs) the ん is normally attached. That is almost always the case. However, I’ve actually encountered the isolated case several times! Here’s one example from a casual talk:

Sugaya Risako: ma… zenbu… kawaiin desu kedo, atashi ga ichiban… (i-chi-ba-n)

Of course, you can deliberately separate the ん if you want to give a slow motion effect. However I don’t consider that normal speaking. Nevertheless, this is what Sayumi does on her radio show:

Michishige Sayumi: Mooningu Musume Michishige Sayumi no “Konya mo Usa-chan peace…” (ko-n-ya)

To finish, I offer the audio file that contains all the above examples:

n-sound.ogg (duration 1:01, 515 KB): MediaFire mirror; 3000mb mirror; Indonesian mirror

(Audio made using the open source audio editor Audacity. To play the audio file in Windows you might need to install the codecs from Illiminable.)

Nanka: audio example

2007 March 10

This post has been moved to “Nanka: audio example”. Please visit the new server.

Is reading Japanese hard?

2006 December 26

Niigaki Risa in Hello! Morning's Hakkan CM segment

I found something funny in Hello! Morning ep. 338. There’s this CM (commercial) segment where new Hello! Project goods are announced. One of the items announced is Berryz Koubou’s new single “Munasawagi Scarlet” (munasawagi means uneasiness or premonition).

The problem is, munasawagi is written as 胸さわぎ while the kanji 胸 is normally read as “mune” (not “muna”). “mune” itself means literally chest but connotatively means heart. 胸 as it stands by itself is used a lot, such as for expressing “it blooms in my heart” or “you’ll always be in my heart”.

PS: “sawagi” itself means disturbance, so 胸さわぎ (munasawagi) literally means “disturbance of the heart”.

Munasawagi seems to be an uncommon word, so Niigaki Risa misread it as “munesawagi”. She’s not entirely sure herself, saying “mune…??? …sawagi” (listen, 85 KB). Quickly, a notice appears on the screen informing the viewers, “It’s munasawagi” (using furigana – see the screenshot above).

With all those various readings for a kanji, reading could be tricky even for a nihonjin. Or perhaps it’s just Niigaki Risa that’s under-educated :)…

(Of course the situation is no more coherent in English, where reading is highly irregular. Bahasa Indonesia is a lot better and I can only think of the letter ‘e’ where reading is ambiguous – compare “lempar” to “lempit”)


2006 December 16

Are we mistaken about Takamizawa-san?

"私、タカミザワさんの事、後悔してたんじゃないでしょうか?" (listen, 44 KB)
"Watashi-tachi… Takamizawa-san no koto… koukai shitetan ja nai deshou ka?"

達 (tachi) is an oftenly used suffix to indicate plurality of person. For example, 私 (watashi) means "I" so 私達 (watashi-tachi) means "we". Some other examples are 子供達 (kodomo-tachi) which means "children", あなた達 (anata-tachi) which means "you guys/girls", and 田中さん達 (Tanaka-san-tachi, Tanaka-san’s group).

There is one glaring exception. While 友 (tomo) means "friend", 友達 (tomodachi) still means "friend" (yes, still singular)! I’ve encountered tomodachi-tachi (friends), but the kanji used is 友人達. It’s from Matsuura Aya’s song Zutto Suki de Ii desu ka:

眺める友人 (listen, 61 KB)
nagameru tomodachi-tachi
(My friends gaze)

I’ve heard 娘達 (musume-tachi) used to refer to the girls of Morning Musume. Probably the weirdest use of tachi I’ve met is 思い出達 (omoide-tachi) which means "memories" (actually 思い出 (omoide) alone already has a plural sense). Because the other tachis I’ve encountered were suffixes for a living entity, the use of tachi in omoide-tachi makes the "memories" feel alive for me. It’s from Goto Maki’s song Suppin to Namida:

涙拭いたら 思い出と「バイバイ」して帰郷るね (listen, 131 KB)
namida fuitara omoide-tachi to "baibai" shite kaeru ne
(After I wipe away my tears, I’ll say "bye bye" with the memories and go home)

The sound of kana “ga” (が)

2006 December 12

Ishikawa Rika in Hello! Morning

In Japanese, the kana が (ga) can be read either “ga” (obviously) or “nga”. The most prominent example is when が is used as a particle. Some examples from songs:

(ga) Furusato (Morning Musume): tanoshii hi ga atta (楽しい日あった)
(ga) Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago (Morning Musume): shiawase ga sugiru kara (幸せすぎるから)
(nga) Melodies of Life (FFIX): wakareru toki ga kanarazu kuru no ni (別れる時必ず来るのに)
(nga) Suteki da ne (FFX): kaze ga yoseta kotoba ni (風寄せた言葉に)

And two examples from a TV show (Hello! Morning 2006-11-19, World Children Games segment):

(ga) Ishikawa Rika: Kyou mo ne… e… tanoshii otomodachi ga.. asobi bla bla bla… (something like: Today we will also play with a fun friend)
(nga) Narrator: Soshite, Ishikawa-sensei ga “tonda tonda maru maru” to bla bla bla… (something like: And then Ishikawa-sensei will say “It flies! It flies! [insert-anything-here]”)

How about が not as a particle? It can also be read as “nga”! Compare these two songs:

(nga) Sougen no Hito (Matsuura Aya): shiroku nagareru (白く流れる(なれる))
(ga) Sougen no Hito (Tsunku): shiroku nagareru (白く流れる(なれる))

A person doesn’t even have to be consistent. For example, Matsuura Aya pronounces the が in “nagare” as “ga” in another song:

(ga) Watarasebashi (Matsuura Aya): zutto nagare miteta wa (ずっと流れ(なれ)見てたわ)

Other cases where I’ve heard が sounded as “nga” is in “onegaishimasu”. I don’t know whether there is a (unwritten) rule about the words where が can be read as “nga” so be careful or you might sound totally weird.

As a bonus, I’ve compiled all of those examples into a neat ogg file. The examples appear as they are ordered in this post. Download and listen! (491 KB, duration 1:08) Made with the open source audio editor Audacity.

(Your Windows can’t open ogg files? Download the codecs here.)

Counting from 1 to 59 in Japanese

2006 September 19

Because some number kanji can be read in many ways, counting can be confusing to a beginner. The kanji for 44 is simply 四十四. However, how do we read it? よんじゅうし, よんじゅうよん, しじゅうよん, or しじゅうし? Only one correct reading, or more than 1 correct way to do it?

Tanaka Reina in Futarigoto

I found a real-life example that should shed a little light on this matter. In the TV show Futarigoto, Tanaka Reina of Morning Musume shows her ability to stand using her hands and head. While doing so, she times herself, counting from 1 onwards.

This example won’t invalidate other readings, however it does give us one way to correctly count. Here’s how she counts:

1: いち
2: に
3: さん
4: し
5: ご
6: ろく
7: しち
8: はち
9: く
10: じゅう
11: じゅういち
12: じゅうに
13: じゅうさん
14: じゅうし
15: じゅうご
16: じゅうろく
17: じゅうしち
18: じゅうはち
19: じゅうく
20: にじゅう
21: にじゅういち
… (same pattern)
30: さんじゅう
31: さんじゅういち
… (same pattern)
40: よんじゅう
41: よんじゅういち
… (same pattern)
50: ごじゅう
51: ごじゅういち
… (same pattern)
59: ごじゅうく

There are two things to note, probably specific to this kind of situation. First, the “じゅう” is spoken as only 1 mora, i.e. “じゅ”. Second, if the number consists of 2 or more mora and ends with a vowel, then the final vowel is oftenly omitted or almost unheard. Therefore it sounds like “ich”, “ni”, “san”, “shi”, “go”, “rok”, “shich”, “hach”, “ku”, “ju”, “juich”, “juni”, “jusan”, “jush”, “jugo”, “jurok”, “jushich”, “juhach”, “juk”, …

(This is like “tu, wa, ga, pat, …, dua satu, dua dua, …” instead of “satu, dua, tiga, empat, …, dua puluh satu, dua puluh dua, …” in Indonesian.)

I’ve prepared the audio file (396 KB) of Reina counting. The file is in the free Ogg/Vorbis format, and Windows user might need to download the codec. It is made using Audacity, a free digital audio editor.

PS: There are some interjections between the counting. First is between 19 and 20 (“It is getting tough”) and second is after 59 (“I passed 1 minute!”). After 59, she counts from 1 again. In the end she says “Let’s stop now.”.