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JPLearn! - Volume I
Mastering Hiragana and Contracted Sounds
Mastering Hiragana and Contracted Sounds
Contracted Sound and Double Consonants

By now you know all ひらがな and カタカナ characters which effectively mean you can read Japanese, but is this really the case? Actually, before we can say that you are fully capable of knowing how to read Japanese, there are a few little things you need to know.As it turns out, you know every character but not every character combination. Please don’t fret; there isn’t much to study however practice in this case will eventually become perfection. You have already been exposed to ちゃ and others before and perhaps you were curious to know why small characters are used? Let’s explore this further…
Contracted Sounds

Let’s first explore the concept of contracted sounds. When we learned かさた they were “ka, sa, ta” and when we added a dakuten next to them they became がざだ “ga, za, da”. With a minor alteration, we changed the sound and what you are about to learn is a similar concept and just as easy to remember.Let’s take two characters き and やNow let’s put them side by side, they sound like “kiya” きやIf we make the や small “kiya” becomes “kya” きゃThe chance in sound is slightly different because we removed a vowel.

Not every character can support contracted sounds, rather only a few of them can. Let’s go over them.Take any of the ~i sounds such as き, し, ち, に, ひ, み, り and append either や, ゆ, or よ. Let’s look at the following table to see them in full form.

きゃ (kya)きゅ(kyu)きょ (kyo)
しゃ (sha)しゅ (shu)しょ (sho)
ちゃ (cha)ちゅ (chu)ちょ (cho)
にゃ (nya)にゅ (nyu)にょ (nyo)
ひゃ (hya)ひゅ (hyu)ひょ (hyo)
みゃ (mya)みゅ (myu)みょ (myo)
りゃ (rya)りゅ (ryu)りょ (ryo)

Incidentally, you may also apply Ten Ten to get new sounds but using Ten Ten only applies to a select few. Let’s take a look!

きゃ (gya)ぎゅ (gyu)ぎょ (gyo)
じゃ (ja)じゅ (ju)じょ (jo)
びゃ (bya)びゅ (byu)びょ (byo)

And lastly we can also do the following and use handakuten...

ぴゃ (pya)ぴゅ(pyu)ぴょ(pyo)

It will take some practice to familiarize oneself with these but flash cards seem to be preferred among students. We have omitted ぢゃ(ja)、ぢゅ(ju)、ぢょ(jo) because they are seldom ever used. They can appear as furigana in very rare circumstances however we are only mentioning this out of reference should you ever come to see the time to use them.Please follow along with the following audio files:

Double Consonants

When the small っ is used, it denotes that it adds emphasis on the following consonant effectively doubling the consonant. For instance, you may want to write って (tte) and to do this you use the small っ since the Japanese “alphabet” doesn’t contain singular consonants but does support vowels.When you are drawing the small っ make it 50% smaller than what you would normally write つ.

Example: つっ

Practice Makes Perfect!

It will take time to recognize and be able to write all of these but if you remember the pattern and logic behind it, it shouldn’t be too hard. Be sure to use the Jappleng pronunciation guide to practice. There are no homework assignments for this lesson as you are tasked to learn these contracted sounds and double consonants.
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