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How to Pronounce the “th” Sound: The IPA Way

During a conversation with a friend visiting from Japan, I noticed that the “th” sound was being replaced with other sounds. Thank was heard as “sank” and think as “shink.” After a while, my brain recognized what was happening and compensated for it. It could recover...

How to Pronounce the Japanese “ry” sound: The IPA Way

Languages share many speech sounds in common, but organize them in different ways. Languages also feature different speech sounds. Both issues present challenges for those learning Japanese. In this article, we’ll examine the pronunciation of the syllables rya, ryu,...

Morphemes: The Building Blocks of Words

If you ask people what words are made of, you’ll likely get a variety of answers. Words are made up of a sequence of letters, like C-A-T. Someone else may say that words consist of a sequence of sounds, like “kay,” “ay,” and “tee.” Others may give you the definition...

How to Pronounce the Japanese “ts” Sound: The IPA Way

Learning to speak a foreign language isn’t always about learning how to pronounce new sounds. Sometimes, sounds that we make in one language are used in unfamiliar ways or positions. For many English speakers, the Japanese “ts” sound is an example of this. How is the...