Japanese Phonetics Index Page

For $10 patrons: You're good to go. Just scroll down for a complete, up-to-date lesson list, as well as a links to other Patreon exclusive content, such as collaboration videos with other creators, livestream Q&A, etc.

For visitors interested in signing up: Use this page to learn more about the Japanese Phonetics curriculum. Below you'll find a brief summary of each lesson, as well as access to episodes one through four, which introduce the series and cover several fundamental phonetic concepts. Most lessons are around ten minutes long, and are presented in straightforward English. If, after exploring this page, you decide you'd like to sign up for $10, click here to register. After completing the payment process, just return to this page for immediate access to all Japanese Phonetics content.

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1. Series Introduction
What is phonetics, and why is it worth studying? What will topics will we cover in this series? (Free lesson)

2. How I studied Japanese / Series philosophy
The methods and roadmap I used to study Japanese, as well as an explanation of the Japanese Phonetics pedagogy. (Free lesson)

3. Common Japanese misconceptions
Breaking down the following Japanese phonetic myths:
・"Japanese intonation is flat."
・"It's unnecessary to study pitch-accent, because different dialects have different pitch-accent patterns ."  (Free lesson)

4. Phonetic awareness and useful practices
The importance of active listening, and beneficial exercises for improving pitch-accent and pronunciation. (Free lesson)

Long term Japanese study Plan with Matt from Mass Immersion Approach
Laying out the best long term study plan, and the role of phonetics in said plan, for Japanese learners striving for a high level of fluency. Filmed with Matt from Mass Immersion Approach.

5. Pitch-accent terminology
An introduction to the common terms used to teach pitch-accent, e.g., pitch, stress, downstep, mora, etc.

5.1 Important information regarding Japanese Vocal Placement
Exploring Japanese vocal placement, and addressing some of of the issues I used to have with this topic.

5.2 Stress-accent vs. Pitch-accent
A brief, impromptu break-down of the difference between stress-accent and pitch-accent.

6. The basics of Japanese-pitch accent
Explaining the two basic Japanese pitch-accent rules, as well as the four fundamental Japanese pitch-accent patterns.

6.1 Improving pitch-accent awareness
Learning an effective exercise to hear and pronounce words from a pitch-accent perspective, as opposed to a stress-accent perspective.

6.2 Effective active listening drills
Becoming more aware of the four pitch-accent patterns though twenty minutes of active listening drills.

6.3 Spectrographs and pitch-accent
Using computer-generated spectrographs to see how standard binary pitch-accent graphics differ from actual Japanese speech.

6.4 Spectrographs and pitch-accent continued
Continuing to use computer-generated spectrographs to compare and contrast 尾高 and 平板 words, and learning whether or not devoicing affects pitch-accent in slower, more deliberate speech.

6.5 Devoicing and pitch & one mora words in isolation
Talking about devoicing and pitch in rapid, everyday speech, and learning about the pitch of one mora words when there is no following particle.

7. Free Japanese phonetic resources
Modern tools for quickly looking up pitch-accent and pronunciation. (Free lesson)

8. Pitch-accent for 1-4 mora nouns
Guidelines for accurately determining the pitch-accent patterns of 1-4 mora nouns, including the golden rule for four mora, two kanji nouns, such as 勉強、学校、発音, etc.

9. Pitch-accent for 5+ mora nouns and compounds
Rules for relatively long nouns, as well as a useful guideline for noun compounds.

10. Pitch-accent for nouns in phrases
Explaining the pitch of です、でしょう、だろう、みたい、らしい when attached to nouns. Includes an explanation of the different pitch-accent patterns for らしい.

11. Pitch-accent test #1
A test of the information and practices presented in lessons four through ten.

12. Introduction to adjectives / い adjectives
A basic explanation of い vs. な adjectives, as well as the pitch-accent patterns for common い adjectives, such as かわいい and 面白い.

13. Irregular い adjectives
An overview of the somewhat irregular い adjectives in the 頭高 and 平板 pitch-accent families, such as 多い and 赤い.

14. Pitch-accent patterns for な adjectives
Addressing the rules and guidelines for both common and obscure な adjectives, such as 有名な or 豊かな.

15. Pitch-accent for the さ form of な adjectives
An explanation of the slightly complicated pitch-accent rules for the さ form of な adjectives.

16. Pitch-accent for the negative conjugations of い adjectives
Covering the pitch-accent patterns of the negative conjugations of い adjectives.

17. Pitch-accent for the negative conjugations of な adjectives and noun phrases
Guidelines for accurately forming the negative conjugations of な adjectives and short noun phrases.

18. The importance of 平板 verbs / Pitch-accent for 平板 verbs
Talking about why native English speakers tend to have difficulty with verbs in the 平板 family, such as 開ける、登る、浴びる, etc. Also covers the common conjugations of said verbs.

19. Pitch-accent patterns for non 平板 conjugations of 平板 verbs
Addressing the less common, non 平板 conjugations of 平板 verbs.

19.1 Pitch-accent patterns for verbs and particles
Beginning to explore how particles attach to verbs, primarily 平板 verbs.

20. Pitch-accent patterns for 頭高 verbs
A concise overview of the various conjugations for 頭高 verbs, such as 帰る or 待つ.

21. Rules for determining verb pitch-accent
Extremely useful rules for determining the pitch-accent family of everyday verbs. For example, the pitch-accent pattern for verbs that end with ぶ, and the relationship between transitive and intransitive verbs.

22. Pitch-accent patterns for 中高 verbs
Covering 中高 verbs, such as 食べる、 走る、and 泳ぐ,  and their various conjugations.

23. Verb wrap-up / General advice
Additional information and practical tips for improving verb pitch-accent.

24. Pitch-accent test #2
A test of the information and practices presented in lessons twelve through twenty-three.

25. Introduction to sentence-level pitch-accent
Explaining how to pitch changes when words are connected at the sentence level.

26. Introduction to terracing
Covering 'terracing', one of the pitch-accent phenomena which makes sentences sound more natural.

27. Sentence-level pitch-accent and phonetic awareness
Continuing to talk about sentence-level pitch-accent, and re-addressing phonetic awareness using information presented in the series thus far. Plus,  a simple challenge for improving pitch-accent in a major way.  

28. Pitch-accent in question words and phrases
The rules and guidelines for pitch-accent in questions, both at the word and sentence level.

29. Dealing with emotions and intentions
Talking about how a speaker's emotions and intentions affect pitch-accent. The last part of the sentence-level pitch-accent series.

30. Beginner-intermediate pitch-accent cheat sheet
A concise summary of every major rule and guideline introduced in lessons one through twenty nine. Particularly useful for review.

31. Pitch-accent FAQ
Answering common questions related to pitch-accent, such as:
・Is it appropriate to use anime to study pitch accent?
・How much Japanese grammar and vocabulary should I know before studying phonetics?

32. Pitch-accent test #3
A comprehensive test of beginner / intermediate Japanese pitch-accent.

Note: Episode thirty-two is the last episode of the pitch-accent sub-series. Episodes thirty-three and beyond address pronunciation.

33. Devoicing
An in-depth explanation of the phonetic phenomenon known as devoicing, as well as how to reproduce said phenomenon to sound noticeably more natural.

33 (Part two). Devoicing follow-up
Continuing to talk about devoicing. Covers ideas such as devoicing vs. vowel dropping, as well as devoicing of the back vowels, あ、え、and お.

34. Articulatory setting and vocal placement
Default position of the lips, jaw, and tongue in Japanese, as well as the defining characteristics of a typical Japanese voice.

35. Introduction to vowels
A look at the five vowels in Japanese, in the context of the IPA vowel chart.

36. Long vowels
Exploring long vowels and related topics such as resonance and rearticulation.

37. Vowel combinations
Diving into vowel combinations, including standard sequences such as [a][i], as well as the more complicated えい and おう.

38. Additional tips for vowel pronunciation
Analyzing vowel perception, reduction, centralization, and word-final long vowel shortening.

39. Vowel wrap-up
Further dissecting えい and vocal placement, with insights from a trained opera singer.

40. The object marker を
A pragmatic approach to を and its various acceptable pronunciations.

41. The consonants K and G
Looking at the consonants K and G, as well as some advanced phonetic phenomena related to these sounds.

42. The consonant S
Breaking down the standard S, as well as the more challenging し sound.

43. The consonants Z and J
Exploring all of the pronunciations of the voiced consonants, Z and J.

44. The consonants T, Ch, and Ts
Learning about the various Japanese 't' sounds, and how they differ from their English counterparts.

45. The small 'tsu'
An in-depth look at the small 'tsu' AKA the sokuon (促音), including an explanaiton on why words like ドッグ and ベッド often sound like ドック and ベット.

46. The consonant D
Talking about the Japanese 'd' sounds. Supplemented with historical information on why ぢ and じ, and づ and ず are pronounced the same, as well as why certain 'd' sounds never appear at the beginning of words.

47. The consonant N
Analyzing the standard 'n'  sounds with native recordings. Includes an explanation about why it's critical to think of the standard 'n' sounds as completely separate from ん AKA the hatsuon (撥音).

48. The consonant H
Breaking down the three different Japanese 'h' sounds. Contains a detailed explanation of both ふ, and the often overlooked, but challenging ひ.

49. The consonants B and P
Exploring the Japanese 'b' and 'p' with native recordings. Includes information about consonant strength, aspiration, and weakening.

50. The M sounds & pronunciation sub-series review
Analyzing the Japanese 'm' sounds and looking back at all of the major points from episodes 33 to 49.

51. The textbook R sounds
A thorough introduction to the standard Japanese 'r' sounds, with multiple native recordings. Covers [ɾ], [[ɾʲ], and how the r sounds are pronounced after ん.

52. The mainstream R variations and common R issues
Addressing the R variations [r], [r ː ː ː], [l], and [d], as well as retroflex and nasalization problems that learners have with the textbook R sounds.

53. The approximants Y and W
Learning about the Japanese approximants [j] and [ɰ], and contrasting the latter with its English counterpart [w].

54. Introduction to ん
Exploring all of the pronunciations of ん, or what's known in Japanese as the 撥音 (はつおん) with detailed graphics and native recordings.

55. The nasalized vowel [ĩ]
A thorough analysis of [ĩ], arguably the most difficult variant of ん. Includes information on the common 'N mistake', as well as an effective drill for fixing said issue.

56. Slurring in Japanese
An overview of slurring in Japanese, including useful tricks such as N-vowel deletion, and pre-は vowel-replacement.

57. Pronunciation Q&A
Answering Patron-submitted questions on topics such as consecutive R sounds, the perception of regional dialects, and timing.

58. Pitch-accent review and useful pitch-accent-practices
Reviewing and clarifying some basic pitch-accent information, as well as looking at a couple of effective pitch-accent exercises (the 'speed trick' and 'calm character').
59. The special sound rule, the katakana rule, and syllables
A brief introduction to the -3 rule, and how it relates to the special sounds. Also a thorough explanation of the katakana rule, and an explanation of Japanese syllable structure.

60. Exceptions to the katakana rule and introduction to the の rules
An overview of the two primary exceptions to the katakana rule, as well as a basic explanation of the pitch-changing possessive 'の'.

61. Exceptions to the の rule and common words with multiple pitch accent patterns
Exploring the exceptions to the の rule, and learning about why words such as 人 and 上 exhibit multiple pitch-accent patterns in everyday speech.

62. Pitch-accent in first names
Learning the main rules for accurately determining the pitch-accent of common Japanese first names.

63. Pitch-accent in last names
Breaking down several useful guidelines for determining the pitch-accent of common last names, and a cheat sheet  for the ten most common Japanese last names.

64. Pitch-accent in full names and titles
Analyzing pitch-accent in full names such as Satō Harumi, and exploring how titles such as san, sama, sensei, etc. affect pitch-accent.

65. Introduction to numbers
Memorizing the pitch-accent for two fundamental number sets and covering the difference in 椅子が二つあります and 二つの椅子があります。

66. Pitch-accent in numbers greater than ten
Learning useful rules for the numbers eleven through nineteen and the intervals of a thousand and ten thousand, and outright memorizing the pitch-accent of the intervals of ten and a hundred.

67. Pitch-accent in complex number compounds
Exploring a useful guideline for determining the pitch of complex number compounds such as 89, 251, and 2,426.

68. Introduction to pitch-accent in counters
Breaking down pitch-accent in counters through examples from one of the more straightforward counter groups—Western counters.

69. The regular counter groups
Learning the single major exception to the Western counter rule and the two regular counter groups.

70. Atamadaka counters and irregular counters
An explanation of so-called first-mora-high counters and common irregular counters.

71. The money counter, 円
An overview on how the money counter, 円 combines with different kinds of numbers

72. Counter related speaker variation
Exploring alternate pronunciations of certain number-counter combinations, and learning about the peculiarities of the number 15.

73. Pitch-accent in adverbial counters
Breaking down adverbial pitch-accent transformation in counters such as 回 and 冊.

74. Introduction to pitch-accent in long particles
Explaining how long particles such as から, だけ, まで, etc. combime with nouns.

75. Accent-deletion and pre-accenting in long particles
Learning how long particles such as ぐらい and しか can change the pitch of preceding nouns.

76. Pitch-accent in long-particle strings
Analyzing the different ways long-particle strings such as までは、からは、までです、and からです attach to nouns.

77. Japanese Phonetics #77 Introduction to pitch-accent in honorifics
Breaking down pitch accent in honorifics 'compounds' such as お鍋 and お迎え.

78. Japanese Phonetics #78 Pitch-accent in honorifics part II
Explaining a couple of practical rules for the pitch-accent of honorific words, and outright memorizing the pitch-accent of common honorific words with overly complicated rules.

79. Pitch-accent in common suffixes part I
Breaking down how the common suffixes 的, 並, and っぽい affect the pitch of preceding words.

Additional content:

Livestream with Abroad in Japan
An hour long talk with Chris Broad from the popular Abroad in Japan channel, covering topics such as everyday life in Japan, Japanese studies, and more.

1st Q&A with Matt from the Mass Immersion Approach
A 50 minute collaboration with Matt from the Mass Immersion Approach answering Japanese related questions from Patrons.

2nd Q&A with Matt from the Mass Immersion Approach
A follow-up collaboration with Matt from the Matt from the Mass Immersion Approach, again answering Japanese related questions from Patrons.

Tofugu Article
A piece I wrote for the Japan-interest site Tofugu about the various tools and practices I used to study Japanese. Addresses primarily phonetics and creative writing.

By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 131 exclusive posts
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 131 exclusive posts