JapaneseFilter: How is 'fureai' pronounced?
September 10, 2008 7:14 PM   Subscribe

How is fureai pronounced?
posted by coizero to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As best I can type out: foo-reh-ah-ee
posted by Nattie at 7:21 PM on September 10, 2008

I agree with Nattie except that the Japanese "f" sounds a lot like a 'hard h' - almost like a sigh - so, close to the "ph" in "phew" when sounded, not read. If that makes sense.
posted by birdsquared at 7:27 PM on September 10, 2008

What Nattie said, and also note that Japanese words don't (for the most part) have stressed syllables, so say it with equal stress on each one.
posted by zardoz at 7:35 PM on September 10, 2008

[h]oo ray eye

The Japanese fu is a VERY soft F, almost H
posted by troy at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2008

The Japanese "f" sound in "fu" is pronounced about half-way between the English "fu" and English "hu".

The Japanese "r" sound in "re" is very difficult. It isn't really like the English "r". There's a lot of regional and class variation in how it's pronounced, but in general it's more like a Spanish "r" or German "r" than an English, or American, "r". Sometimes it's strongly rolled, but generally that's a "tough guy" affectation, something you'd hear from gangsters or from someone trying to sound like a thug. To untrained English ears "re" can almost sound like a softened "de" in some words in some regional accents.

With those caveats, Nattie's pronunciation is right.

Also, Japanese as a language has a strong cadence. All four of those syllables are equally stressed and each of them takes the same length of time. And the successive vowels should not be treated as a diphthong, though some small degree of slurring between them is inevitable. The vowels are distinct and should be pronounced that way.
posted by Class Goat at 7:39 PM on September 10, 2008

The ending is not ah-ee but the single syllable あい "eye", or most accurately, the pronoun "I"

of course CG is right about the "re" being half like "lay", but when saying fureai a harder 'r' sound is not noticeable IMO.
posted by troy at 7:45 PM on September 10, 2008

あい isn't a single syllable, quite, because it occupies two cadence times. In this particular word, the fure part and the ai part would each take half the total pronunciation interval.

Also, if you ask a linguist he'll tell you that Japanese doesn't have any diphthongs. Myself, I don't think that's true, and あい is the closest Japanese comes to one.
posted by Class Goat at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2008

That cadence thing gets to me sometimes. The word 場合 baai (which means "case" or "situation") sounds strange to my ears because the "ah" sound goes on for a long time.

But if the "ah" wasn't lengthened it would be 倍 bai (which means "twice" or "double").

And I don't think that there's an "eye" diphthong in the pronunciation of baai. At least it doesn't sound that way to me.
posted by Class Goat at 8:31 PM on September 10, 2008

^ heh, I recorded "fureai" and looked at it in Audacity, and yes, the fure and the ai are equal beats.

the "eye" in hoo-ray-eye is more like eye-eee
posted by troy at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2008

Uploaded my pronunciation to youtube
posted by troy at 8:40 PM on September 10, 2008

With regard to the first syllable 'fu':

The Japanese sound series は ひ ふ へ ほ is romanised as ha, hi, fu, he, ho.

The reason that the third sound is indicated as more like an f is because of the effect of the following vowel u. The u sound in Japanese is said with lips somewhat compressed. This affects the preceding consonant in a process called affrication. That is, the sound becomes a fricative - in this case the voiceless bilabial fricative.

This is still different from the f in English which involves the lower lips and the top teeth. In the Japanese f, the teeth are not involved. Only the lips which are not brought fully together. It's probably easier to still think of it as an h but with lips closer together so that turbulence in the air stream results - i.e. a fricative.

posted by Sitegeist at 9:03 PM on September 10, 2008

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