Issue 2: Mini 日本語 Easy
Want to be even more expressive? Use mini kana!
新年快乐(シン・ネン・クアイ・レー)! Let’s start off this (Chinese) New Year small and advance big by putting emphasis on your words making them more expressive and you don’t even have to learn something new! In English when you write and want to add emphasis or overreact you just hold whatever key for a minute or hit that CAPS-button to stress emotion. For example, “seriously” versus “SERIOUSLY” or “love” versus “luuuuuuuv”. Since there are no things like CAPITAL LETTERS in Japanese, there are a number of other ways to stress emotion or overreact.
Remember the five vowels『あいうえお』you learned way back then? In Japanese we can add a slight emphasis to words by adding smaller versions of these vowels, mini kana,『ぁ』『ぃ』『ぅ』『ぇ』『ぉ』. Except for『ん』, all kana end in a vowel sound and by adding any of these mini vowels you can elongate the sound of a particular word, adding emphasis. This is often more used in combination with particles, expressions, conjunctions etc. rather than nouns or verbs. Let’s take a look at some examples below.
Stressing by cutting off sound
The mini『っ』and『ッ』is pronounced as a double consonant in words such as『学校 (がっこう)』,『やっぱり』and『発表 (はっぴょう)』but can also be used to stress a more surprising tone by abruptly ending the sound by adding a mini『っ』at the end or adding them in between to create a double consonant sound on purpose in words that normally don’t have them to stress various emotions in a word. Using the mini『っ』this way creates a slangy sound and therefore not very suitable in formal situations.
If you really want to make you message heard, mini kana isn’t going to cut it and you need something stronger to get your voice out there. There are two ways in achieving this and that is to use a wave,『〜』or a straight line,『ー』. The difference between the two is nuance. Both stretch the end sound of a word but words ending with『〜』fade out (hence a wave shape) and endings with『ー』holds the sound all the way to the end (hence a straight line) and ‘sound’ more stronger than the wave.
A happy note
In addition to『?』and『!』, Japanese use a music note『♪』to change the mood to a cheerily (like when you’re humming your favorite song) tone. You can use it when you’re happy to see someone, want to cheer someone or just want to lift the spirit. This is more often used by girls than guys. But ofcourse anybody can use it 🙂
Japanese version of CAPS
Another way of raising attention and putting focus on a word is by using the katakana version of words normally written in hiragana or kanji. Unlike mini kana, this is more often used with nouns.
Use spaces or dots in between kana to draw attention, for instance, to remind someone that tomorrow is a special day or that you’ve won that important soccer match etc. Using this makes words sound staccato-ish and each syllable is pronounced with a short pause in between. Usually used with shorter words than really long ones otherwise it just becomes downright annoying.
Mix and Match
Now you know that there are so many ways to stress words, you can mix and match them together to create different sound effects and really set the mood. Scream, yell, cheer or be surprised, whatever mood you’re in, make sure you get voice heard ‘loud’ and clear!
For those who want to know how to type mini hiragana, type an『x』first followed by the kana you wish to type. To type a mini katakana, hold『shift』then type『x』followed by the kana.
For those who can’t get it to work, copy away:
あぁ いぃ うぅ えぇ おぉ つっ
アァ イィ ウゥ エェ オォ ツッ
〜 ー • ♪
That’s it for this issue, next time: Kanji Flashcards review!