Correct Pronunciation of "Kamikaze"?

I was watching a four DVD documentary on the 20th century where the word “Kamikaze” was pronounced as “Kamikazz”. Doesn’t it sound like “Kamikazzy”? The narrator was British, so I wonder if it is the British pronunciation, perhaps? Or, is that the correct pronunciation?

Last, did the term “Kamikazi” exist in WWII? Did the Japanese pilots call themselves this? Or, was it an American moniker? And, did the term exist during or after WWII once the dust settled for historians?

Japanese is a syllabic language, so it’s pronounced ka-mi-ka-ze. The “ze” part is like the first half of the word “zest”.

The Imperial Navy did use the term “Kamikaze tokubetsu kougeki-tai” (Divine Wind special attack unit) during WWII.

Ka-mee-kah-zeh. Not commie-kazi. I can’t say I’ve ever heard a Japanese person say the word, but sometimes vowels are squashed, e.g. “desu” pronounced “dessss.”

It means “divine wind” or “God wind” more or less. The term is older than WWII, and was used for a typhoon that kept the Mongols from invading Japan.

While we’re at it, it’s hara-kee-ree more or less, not harry-carry. Also kara-oh-keh, not carry-okie, but that one’s a bit pedantic now.

p.s. As a rule, when you see Japanese transcribed with the standard method, “a” is always the “ah” sound, “i” is always the “ee” sound, “u” is always like the “u” in “ultra”, “e” is always the “eh” sound and “o” is always the “oh” sound.

p.p.s. so sake is sa-keh, not sa-ki.

Almost no syllabic stress, either, as I understand it.

I think you can make a strong case that Kamikaze has become a loan word in english with it’s own distinct pronunciation. “kammee-ka-zee” is the correct pronunciation in english, it doesn’t really matter that native Japanese is different unless you are actually trying to speak Japanese to a native speaker.

The japanese radically change the pronunciation of english words when they adopt them as loanwords adding hiragana vowels on the ends of words and changing L to R among other things. It’s fair enough we do the same.

Check out this list (but before you do, can you guess what “idoru” is a loan word from? you probablu would have no idea it means “idol” unless you had already studied japanese.)

Isn’t it aidoru? William Gibson had it wrong.

Oh, and the aforementioned karaoke comes to English from Japanese, and they borrowed part of it from English. It means “empty orchestra” and the “oke” part is a abbreviation of the second part.

yeah sorry “aidoru”. One of my other favorites is “herusumētā”
Which means “bathroom scales”… bizarrely literally from “health meter”.

There’s a perfectly good name for the sound of that last E in Japanese words like kamikaze: schwa. And a great phonetic symbol for that sound: ə

Instead of saying confusing things like “sounds like the first half of the word zest” you can just say “it’s a schwa”, or even type ə if you know how, and most fully literate adults will know exactly what you mean.

Good luck finding the literate people, though.

Sorry, I don’t hear that. For me, the e in zest is ɛ, or open-mid front unrounded vowel. I don’t have a definitive cite (but see this and this), but I don’t believe Japanese even has a schwa.

Wrong thread. Sorry.

No, “Kamikazz” is not the usual pronunciation in Britain, at least, I have never heard it. I, and I think most other British people, pronounce it more like “Kamikazzy”, and, from what the other posters here are saying, that is closer to the actual Japanese. Your documentary probably just had a narrator with an idiosyncratic pronunciation.

I’ve only heard Brits pronounce it kah-me-kah-zay

Here is the IPA representation of the Japanese word kamikaze:



A good mnemonic for the Japanese vowel sounds:

“Ah we soon get old” (a i u e o)

Yes. It is wise to avoid the Italianization of Japanese pronunciation, sometimes referred to as the “pepperoni” effect.

As for dropping the vowel at the end of words, that’s usually only the “u” as in “desu” and usually more so by men than women.

Typically, though, Japanese use tokkoutai, but I guess I hear a 1000:1 ratio to Westerners referring to the group than Japanese.

There are reasons for dropping the “u” such as indicating more certainty about the subject.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember reading that the term was referred to by native Japanese as shinpuu. “Divine” has more than one reading (kami, shin/jin) as does “wind” (kaze, fuu/puu) whereas it was translated by translators in the west as kamikaze, it was locally referred to as shinpuu. It’s similar to the way iwotou was/is commonly referred to as iwojima.

In every translated Japanese document from WWII that I have read, suicide troops and flyers are always refered to as “special attack units”. "Kamikazi"may have been informally used by the Japanese military but I suspect their enemies used the term far more frequently than they did.

While there are both readings, the on reading and the kun reading, the point is that the Japanese refer to this group as tokkoutai (special attack unit). It was never commonly referred to as either kamikaze or shimpuu.