Japanese phonetic alphabet

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In linguistics, the term phonetic alphabet means something different from what it means here. See phonetic notation.

The Japanese phonetic alphabet (和文通話表 wabuntsūwahyō?, literally "Japanese character telecommunication chart") is a radiotelephony spelling alphabet, similar in purpose to the NATO phonetic alphabet, but designed to communicate Japanese kana rather than Latin letters. The alphabet was sponsored by the now-defunct Ministry for Posts and Telecommunications.

Each kana is assigned a code word, so that critical combinations of kana (and numbers) can be pronounced and clearly understood by those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone, especially when the safety of navigation or persons is essential.

There are specific names for kana, numerals, and special characters (i.e. vowel extender, comma, quotation mark, and parentheses).

kana[edit]

Every kana name takes the form of a X no Y (X の Y?). For example, ringo no ri (りんごのリ?) means "ri of ringo". Voiced kana do not have special names of their own. Instead, one simply states the unvoiced form, followed by "dakuten". /P/ sounds are named similarly, with "handakuten". Thus, to convey ba (?), one would say "hagaki no ha dakuten (はがきのハ 濁点?)". To convey pa (?), one would say "hagaki no ha handakuten (はがきのハ 半濁点?)".

Kana Spelling Kana Spelling Kana Spelling Kana Spelling Kana Spelling
あ/ア 朝日のア
Asahi no "a"
い/イ いろはのイ
Iroha no "i"
う/ウ 上野のウ
Ueno no "u"
え/エ 英語のエ
Eigo no "e"
お/オ 大阪のオ
Ōsaka no "o"
か/カ 為替のカ
Kawase no "ka"
き/キ 切手のキ
Kitte no "ki"
く/ク クラブのク
Kurabu no "ku"
け/ケ 景色のケ
Keshiki no "ke"
こ/コ 子供のコ
Kodomo no "ko"
さ/サ のサ
Sakura no "sa"
し/シ 新聞のシ
Shinbun no "shi"
す/ス すずめのス
Suzume no "su"
せ/セ 世界のセ
Sekai no "se"
そ/ソ そろばんのソ
Soroban no "so"
た/タ 煙草のタ
Tabako no "ta"
ち/チ 千鳥のチ
Chidori no "chi"
つ/ツ つるかめのツ
Tsurukame no "tsu"
て/テ 手紙のテ
Tegami no "te"
と/ト 東京のト
Tōkyō no "to"
な/ナ 名古屋のナ
Nagoya no "na"
に/ニ 日本のニ
Nippon no "ni"
ぬ/ヌ 沼津のヌ
Numazu no "nu"
ね/ネ ねずみのネ
Nezumi no "ne"
の/ノ 野原のノ
Nohara no "no"
は/ハ はがきのハ
Hagaki no "ha"
ひ/ヒ 飛行機のヒ
Hikōki no "hi"
ふ/フ 富士山のフ
Fujisan no "fu"
へ/ヘ 平和のヘ
Heiwa no "he"
ほ/ホ 保険のホ
Hoken no "ho"
ま/マ マッチのマ
Matchi no "ma"
み/ミ 三笠のミ
Mikasa no "mi"
む/ム 無線のム
Musen no "mu"
め/メ 明治のメ
Meiji no "me"
も/モ もみじのモ
Momiji no "mo"
や/ヤ 大和のヤ
Yamato no "ya"
ゆ/ユ 弓矢のユ
Yumiya no "yu"
よ/ヨ 吉野のヨ
Yoshino no "yo"
ら/ラ ラジオのラ
Rajio no "ra"
り/リ りんごのリ
Ringo no "ri"
る/ル 留守居のル
Rusui no "ru"
れ/レ れんげのレ
Renge no "re"
ろ/ロ ローマのロ
Rōma no "ro"
わ/ワ わらびのワ
Warabi no "wa"
ゐ/ヰ ゐどのヰ
(W)ido no "(w)i"
ゑ/ヱ かぎのあるヱ
Kagi no aru "e"
を/ヲ 尾張のヲ
(W)owari no "(w)o"
ん/ン おしまいのン
Oshimai no "m"
濁点
Dakuten
半濁点
Handakuten

Numerals[edit]

Digits are identified with "数字の..." (sūji no...) followed by the name of the number, analogous to English phrases such as the number five.

When a number can be named in multiple ways, the most distinctive pronunciation is used. Thus 1, 7, 4 are pronounced hito, nana, yon rather than ichi, shichi, shi which could easily be confused with each other.

Digit Spelling Digit Spelling Digit Spelling Digit Spelling Digit Spelling
1 数字のひと
Sūji no hito
2 数字の
Sūji no ni
3 数字のさん
Sūji no san
4 数字のよん
Sūji no yon
5 数字の
Sūji no go
6 数字のろく
Sūji no roku
7 数字のなな
Sūji no nana
8 数字のはち
Sūji no hachi
9 数字のきゅう
Sūji no kyū
0 数字のまる
Sūji no maru

Special symbols[edit]

Symbol Spelling Symbol Spelling Symbol Spelling Symbol Spelling Symbol Spelling
長音
Chōon
区切り点
Kugiri ten
段落
Danraku
下向括弧
Shitamuki kakko
上向括弧
Uwamuki kakko

References[edit]