What Is “b” In Japanese? [ba, bi, bu, be, bo]

Alright, now we are going to get to that sound I accidentally introduced too early in one of the example words in the previous lesson. Of course, I’m not only going to give you that one sound, I’m going to give you all of them! What is “b” in Japanese?

Well, the good news is that they are all really easy to learn. Perhaps even easier than the group that they come from, which is the [h] sound by the way.

Let’s get it going with today’s lesson!

All The [b] Sounds In Japanese

I suspect that you remember me telling you about Japanese consonants being “less explosive” than the American versions, but I think that now is a good time to remind you just in case.

The [b] sound can easily explode like a bomb, so be sure to treat it gently like a baby.

ば = ba

び = bi

ぶ = bu

べ = be

ぼ = bo

I said this once before in the [h] section, but it’s probably worth mentioning here again. Be careful about ば and ぼ since they both look like the same character.

Every now and then when I am reading through something quickly in Japanese I will mix these two up, but it stops me in my tracks since I think it’s a new word.

Then upon closer inspection I realized that I just read this one character incorrectly, laugh at myself, and then move on using the correct understanding.

The Ability To Notice

There are a lot of people on the internet that help others learn new languages, and one of my all time favorites is a man by the name of Steve Kaufmann.

He speaks 20 languages, including Japanese!

One of the things that he talks about all the time is the leaner’s ability to notice.

To go more in-depth on this topic, he says that when you spend more time studying and being exposed to a language, you begin to notice things that you missed before and that this is actually an integral part of language learning.

It might be a certain sound that you didn’t know was there, or it could be the particular way that a word is used in context.

Having tried out his methods for learning new languages, I can say that I agree with him totally on the importance of developing this ability in order to become even better at comprehension.

I think that the first step in the process is awareness. If you know that a certain thing exists, then it is a lot easier to find it.

That’s the main goal of this free course on the sounds of Japanese. I want to make you aware of all the sounds so that when you are listening to natives speak, you can fully hear them.

But another important step to noticing things is simply getting enough exposure to them. I knew it would be important to provide you with actual recordings of the sounds so that you could experience them in addition to learning about them.

But I will be the first to admit that the amount of exposure that I am providing to you is not nearly enough.

Later on in this course I am going to give you a master file of all the word examples (for free, of course 😉 ), but I would encourage you to listen to as much Japanese as you can on your own as well.

At this early stage, you might not be able to follow exactly what a native speaker is saying, but even if you just listen and pick out some things, like which sounds they are making, it can help you to reinforce what you’ve learned.

As you put in more time, notice new things, and practice it yourself you will continue to grow until you are able to follow along without much of a problem.

So, let this be my encouragement for you to always be curious when listening to Japanese and see what you can notice each day that you might have missed before.

One More Lesson To Go

We’ve only got one more lesson to cover for the “modified sounds” in Japanese. After that we will start on the “combination sounds” which will complete the first part of this course.

I call them “modified” sounds, but it’s really the hiragana part that gets changed slightly from its original version. The sound half has always existed, so they aren’t really changed or anything.

Still, I find that it helps to kind of separate the sounds out like this so that they match the written parts too.

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