Japanese Hiragana “T” and “D” Syllables

The Japanese writing system is split into three parts.  Two of these are syllabaries, and the last is a collection of symbols.  Japanese doesn’t have an ‘alphabet’ so to speak, as it does a ‘syllabary’, or symbols associated with monosyllabic phonemes.  There are two sets of symbols associated with these sounds, one called Hiragana which is used for native words, and one called Katakana which is used for borrowed words or emphasis. The third part is the Kanji, or symbols borrowed from the Chinese writing system, that make up all sort of words.

Together, Hiragana and Katakana make up the ‘kana’.  I decided if I was going to learn how to (at least) read Japanese I’d start with the kana.  That’s what inspired me to buy these cards from amazon (to the left).  I’ve had them for years, that’s why the cover on my set doesn’t match the cover on the cards offered on amazon.  They’re from the same publisher, so I would be highly surprised if they weren’t the same in spirit.  To purchase these cards directly from amazon just click the image to the left.  The nice thing about these flash cards is that you can use them with others and solo to practice learning your kana.  I learn the best when I’m being quizzed, something about putting the knowledge in a sense of experience, so Maus quizzes (or quizzed) me over and over and over until I learned all the kana.

These are the first videos I’ve made in this manner, and we made these in a public place (Starbucks, shocker) so the sound is wonky.  But, here is the video explaining the cards, and the “T” and “D” sounds of Japanese.  Please pardon my pronunciation, I’m completely self-taught and so I probably do it a bit wrong.

Below is the video of the “T” consonant syllables with a little vocabulary, and then followed by the modified voiced “D” consonant syllables with a little vocabulary:

So those are the cards I’m going to be using throughout this tutorial series on the Japanese writing system.  I thought I’d actually put some of the content on the cards in the blog, so to more easily see what’s on the cards I’ve listed below what I went over in the video.  I introduce each syllable, pure and modified, and then the corresponding vocabulary.  I actually used the vocabulary that is on the cards themselves, as opposed to the vocabulary on the separate cards, because there weren’t vocabulary cards for some of the sounds, particularly ji and zu.  This is because the tenten of chi and tsu are already available as other sounds in the “S” syllable kana.  So here are the “T” syllables:

た – ta: “tah”

たつ – “tatsu” : to stand; dragon

たま – “tama” : occassionally; ball; bullet

たかい – “takai” : tall, high; expensive

たのしい – “tanoshii” : fun, enjoyable

ち – chi: “chee”

ち – “chi” : blood; earth; wisdom

ちず – “chizu” : map

ちかい – “chikai” : near, close

ちいさい – “chiisaii” : small

つ – tsu: “tsoo”

つき – “tsuki” : moon; attached to, included

つぎ – “tsugi” : next

つる – “tsuru” : crane (bird); vine; to hang; to fish

つかう – “tsukau” : to use

て – te: “teh”

て – “te” : hand, arm; person

てつ – “tetsu” : iron, steel

てら – “tera” : Buddhist temple

てがみ – “tegami” : letter (to post)

と – to: “toh”

と – “to” : door; metropolis

とし – “toshi” : city; year, age

とら – “tora” : tiger

とおい – “toii” : far off, distant

Those are the “pure” unmodified/unvoiced syllables for this series.  The following you’ll notice are attached to “tenten” which indicate that the syllable should be voiced.  So, ta becomes da, like the difference between “tamarind” and “damascus.”  Because there weren’t separate vocabulary cards for some of the sounds, particularly ji and zu (being that  chi -> ji, ji is already available from shi with a tenten, and tsu -> zu, zu is already available from su with a tenten), I’ve decided to list the vocabulary that was on the cards for those kana themselves.  You’ll notice that zu and ji in this case don’t necessarily start the voaabulary word, but they are used in the word:

だ – da: “dah”

だめ – “dame” : no good, pointless

だいがく – “daigaku” : university

だんだん – “dandan” : gradually, bit by bit

だいじょうぶ – “daijoubu” : ok, all right

ぢ – ji: “jee”

ちぢむ – “chijimu” : to shrink, to contract

ちぢれる – “chijireru” : to curl (up)

づ – zu: “zoo”

つづく – “tsuzuku” : to continue, to last

つづける – “tsuzukeru” : to continue, to go on with

やまづみ – “yamazumi” : huge pile, mountain of

かたづける – “katazukeru” : to clean up

で – de: “deh”

でる – “deru” : to go out, appear, be present

でんき – “denki” : electricity

でんわ – “denwa” : telephone

でんとう – “dentou” : tradition

ど – do: “doh”

どう – “dou” : how, what

どれ – “dore” : which one

どようび – “doyoubi” : Saturday

どろぼう – “dorobou” : robber

I’ve developed a little quizlet featuring JUST the “t” and “d” sounds for your practice below:

That’s it for now, have fun studying Japanese!

This post is part of a larger list of Japanese Kana tutorials.

If you appreciate my tutorials please help support me through my Patreon.

If a monthly commitment isn’t up your alley, you can always buy me some coffee.

photo credit: zilverbat. Cherry Blossoms in Japan (Sakura) via photopin (license)


I'm just a wunk, trying to enjoy life. I am a cofounder of http//originalpursuitssoc.com/ and I like computers, code, creativity, and friends.

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