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  #1  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:26 PM
Dog80 Dog80 is offline
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Why do the japanese add a 'u' sound at the end of English words?

First noticed this while watching Best Motoring videos. Yesterday I was wathcing this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J49UdSNj5c

Notice at 1:20 the commentator says "Franku Shamrocku".

Why is that?
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  #2  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:35 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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A friend of mine who visits Japan regularly on business told me that it's because consonant sounds not followed by a vowel sound are exceptionally rare or absent (I forget which) in Japanese speech.
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:39 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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Japanese is built of syllables, almost all of which end in a vowel. Thus, when trying to say consonant clusters and syllable-final consonants, the Japanese insert a lot of vowels.

For instamce. McDonalds ('mik don aldz') comes out sounding something like 'ma ku do na la du'.
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:40 PM
Monty Monty is offline
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It's because the Japanese language has a different set of rules for Phonotactics than English does. Japanese has a much shorter list of syllable-ending phones than English does. K is not a permissible end phone but U is, thus the addition of U after an ending K in a foreign word.

English also has a different set of rules than that of Vietnamese. In Vietnamese it's permissible to have the NG sound start a syllable, which is something not found in English. When you hear most English speakers say the Vietnamese surname Nguyễn, they'll usually pronounce it like the name Gwen or the word win. That's far different, really, to a Vietnamese speaker for two reasons: (1) lack of the initial velar nasal, and (2) lack of the ngă tone.
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:40 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Or for that matter, beisoboru (baseball).

Isn't "n" the only consonant that can be used by itself, without a vowel attached?
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  #6  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:48 PM
BellRungBookShut-CandleSnuffed BellRungBookShut-CandleSnuffed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
Or for that matter, beisoboru (baseball).

Isn't "n" the only consonant that can be used by itself, without a vowel attached?
Yeah, that or "m," but it's the same character in Japanese: ん

Last edited by BellRungBookShut-CandleSnuffed; 08-15-2008 at 07:50 PM..
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:54 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
Or for that matter, beisoboru (baseball).

Isn't "n" the only consonant that can be used by itself, without a vowel attached?
The hiragana "ん" represents the "n" sound, although it sometimes takes on other sounds depending on what what if comes before or after. Most men, when speaking, don't pronounce the final "u" (or they pronounce it only slightly) after and "s", so it often seems that that the "s" sound can stand alone. Women, otoh, do pronounce it.

Men: Ohayo gozaymas(u)
Women: Ohayo gozaymasu

Last edited by John Mace; 08-15-2008 at 07:55 PM..
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  #8  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:58 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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One other point is that the "u" sound in Japanese is often elided or de-empnasized, which is why that vowel is used for foreign words. The added vowel sound would be much more obvious if it were an "a" or "o", for example.

On preview, beaten to it by Mr. Mace.


Roddy
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Old 08-15-2008, 07:59 PM
Dog80 Dog80 is offline
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Thank you guys for the quick responses
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  #10  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:03 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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BTW, if you want to understand why Japanese pronounce English words a certain way, try to write them out in Kana. Katakana is what is used for foreign words.

For instance, a Japanese person might wonder why Barack Obama is called "Black Obama". Black, in Kana would be:

バ ラ ク

pronounced: Ba-ra-ku, which is how Barack would be pronounced, too.
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  #11  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:16 PM
Green Bean Green Bean is online now
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Hey, thanks. I've wondered about this myself.
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  #12  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:37 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
BTW, if you want to understand why Japanese pronounce English words a certain way, try to write them out in Kana. Katakana is what is used for foreign words.

For instance, a Japanese person might wonder why Barack Obama is called "Black Obama". Black, in Kana would be:

バ ラ ク

pronounced: Ba-ra-ku, which is how Barack would be pronounced, too.
Ah...no.

Similar, but no. In Japanese, it's bu-ra-ku not ba-ra-ku (the word, black.)

Last edited by Sage Rat; 08-15-2008 at 08:38 PM..
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