How is the “ts” sound in Japanese pronounced?

When learning Japanese, one of the unique sounds that can be challenging for non-native speakers is the “ts” sound. Mastering this sound is essential, as it is prevalent in many common Japanese words. In this blog post, we will break down the proper pronunciation of the “ts” sound and provide tips and techniques to help you perfect it.

Understanding the “ts” sound in Japanese

The “ts” sound in Japanese is considered a single consonant, not two separate sounds as in English. It is similar in pronunciation to the “ts” sound in English words like “cats” or “hats,” but the Japanese “ts” is slightly more pronounced and crisp. The most commonly used “ts” sound in Japanese is “つ”, which is the hiragana character for “tsu.” There are also other syllables like “tsa,” “tsi,” “tsu,” “tse,” and “tso,” but they are rarely used.

Tips for Mastering the “ts” Sound

1. Position your tongue: To make the “ts” sound, start by placing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth.

2. Build up air pressure: As you position your tongue, build up air pressure behind it by exhaling slightly.

3. Release the air: As the air pressure builds, quickly release your tongue, allowing the air to escape and create the crisp “ts” sound.

4. Practice makes perfect: Repetition is key when learning pronunciation. Practice saying words that contain the “ts” sound, such as “tsunami” (つなみ), “tsumetai” (つめたい), and “tsukue” (つくえ).

5. Listen to native speakers: Exposing yourself to the language through Japanese media like podcasts, TV shows, or movies can help you understand pronunciation nuances and assimilate the sound to your speech.

By understanding the proper mouth and tongue placement and practicing these tips consistently, you’ll be able to master the “ts” sound in Japanese in no time.