A Lesson on Japanese

There are a few sounds that cannot be written in Japanese. These are any l or th sounds. The l is replaced with an r, and the th is replaced with an s. For example, if your name is Kathy, you would replace the th with s making the name Kasii(y is changed to an i because it is not a vowel in Japanese, and doubled to make the right sound). Although the th has been replaced, there is no way of writing the "si"(see) sound, so you you would place an h between the letters. So, if your name is Kathy then your name in Japanese is Kashii. Just like how Anthy is pronounced Anshii in Japanese.

There are 3 basic types of Japanese. Hiragana is part of the alphabet and is used to write Japanese words ONLY. It is learned by school children first. Katakana is another part of the Japanese alphabet. It is learned second by school children. Katakana is used to write out words from all other languages or Japanese words of foreign origin. For example, the Japanese word for television is "terebi." If you noticed, it is pronounced very much like the first half of television, "televi." So, although it is a japanese word, it is written in Katakana because it is actually the first half of an English word. This same rule applies to "anime." Almost all people don't know, but anime is not actually an original Japanese word. It is derived from the word "animation." Animation would be pronounced "animeshyon." Notice how the first half of the word is "anime." So when you say "anime" you're not actually refering to a Japanese cartoon, but any animated TV show or movie in general. Sometimes though, Katakana can be used for an actual Japanese word, but this is only on rare occasions that you would see this. Kanji is the third type of Japanese. There are literally hundreds of Kanji symbols. About 881 of them are most commonly used. This is learned after Katakana and students may continue to learn it all the way through high school. Kanji are the symbols that have meanings on their own. For example, the word for water is "mizu" or "sui." Instead of writing out these words in Hiragana, it would be most proper to write them in Kanji. Both "mizu" and "sui" would be written with two Hiragana symbols, but with Kanji it would only be one. The fourth type of Japanese is Romaji. This is actually not a specific type of Japanese writing. It is just Japanese words romanized and written out in English letters.

The pronounciation of Japanese vowels is the same as in Italian or Spanish; that of consonants is as in English:


- a: "ah" as in father
- e: "eh" as in red
- i: "ee" as in see
- o: "oh"(short) as in open
- u: "ooh" as in Oops!
You will ALWAYS use these pronounciations for vowels in Japanese. It would be wrong to pronounce the letter a as the a in "action."

Vowel Combinations

- ei: "ay" as in day
- ai: "ah-ee" as in eye
- ou: "oh"(long) as in float
- au: "ow" as in out

-An n occuring before b, m, and p changes to an m in sound and is so written when romanized; i.e., sen + pai= sempai

-The g in a word is ALWAYS pronounced as the g in "good." ALL consonants except for n ALWAYS have a vowel after them in Japanese. So when at the end of a word, g will have a vowel after it. When pronouncing the word "king" in Japanese, it would be "kingu." Although, sometimes the vowel is silent if the final vowel is u or i.

-The u is nearly mute in all words unless it is the initial syllable. Particularly when the u comes after an s. The word "Tsuki"(moon or month) is actually pronounced "tski."

-When it appears that a word should be translated and have two Cs next to eachother the first c should be changed to a t. The word "match" is written in katakana as "macchi." The proper romaji writing for this would be "matchi."

-In Japanese songs these rules may not apply, so the word can fit the syllables for the song.


-sama: When a speaker uses this at the end of a person's name, it means they hold the person in very high regard. Anthy usually uses this toward whoever she is engaged to. It can also be used faceciously, like Wakaba toward Utena.
-san: This connotates a working relationnship. It means that the speaker and the addressee are equals but are not particularly close. This would be used toward anyone that is is the same grade in school as you are.
-kun: This one is slightly more familiar than -san, but also connontates a working relationship. It's usually used toward people who you are closer to or who are inferior to you, such as an underclassman. It is also used more toward males than females. Utena would use this when speaking to Miki.
-chan: This means that the speaker is close to the addressee. It is used toward a close female friend (if you are female) or a boyfriend or girlfriend. It is also used toward children since "chan" means "little."
-sempai(senpai): This title is used toward upperclassmen, elders, and soforth. Utena would use this term toward Juri, Touga, Saionji, or any other person in a class above her. It connotates a due amount of respect for those higher than you. If not in a working environment like a school, you can also use -san for those who are a bit older than you.