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See Japanese phonology for a more thorough discussion of the sounds of Japanese.
Examples in the charts are Japanese words transliterated according to the Hepburn romanization system.
- In dialects such as the Tokyo dialect, the voiced fricatives [z, ʑ] are generally pronounced as affricates [dz, dʑ] in word-initial positions and after the moraic nasal /N/ (pronounced [n] before [dz] and [ɲ] before [dʑ]) or the sokuon /Q/ (spelled ッ, only in loanwords). Actual realizations of these sounds vary among speakers (see Yotsugana).
- When an affricate consonant is geminated, only the closure component of it is repeated: [kiddzɯ], [eddʑi], [ittsɯi], [kettɕakɯ].
- A declining number of speakers pronounce word-medial /ɡ/ as [ŋ], but /ɡ/ is always represented by [ɡ] in this system.
- [ɰ], romanized w, is the consonant equivalent of the vowel [ɯ], which is pronounced with varying degrees of rounding, depending on dialect.
- The syllable-final n (moraic nasal) is pronounced as some kind of nasalized vowel before a vowel, semivowel ([j, ɰ]) or fricative ([ɸ, s, ɕ, ç, h]). [ɰ̃] is a conventional notation undefined for the exact place of articulation.
- In many dialects including the Tokyo dialect, close vowels [i] and [ɯ] become voiceless (marked by a ring under the symbol) when surrounded by voiceless consonants and not followed by a pitch drop.
- [ɯ], romanized u, exhibits varying degrees of rounding depending on dialect. In the Tokyo dialect, it is either unrounded or compressed ([ɯᵝ]), meaning the sides of the lips are held together without horizontal protrusion, unlike protruded [u].
- A pitch drop may occur only once per word and does not occur in all words. The mora before a pitch drop has a high pitch. When it occurs at the end of a word, the following grammatical particle has a low pitch.