A Guideline between Mandarin and Japanese Pronunciation

The word for ‘long vowel’ is written in Traditional Chinese/Japanese, with furigana written above it.

For speakers of both Mandarin and Japanese and for linguistic enthusiasts, there is a general guideline regarding long vowels in Japanese Sino-Japanese vocabulary.

Examples

公園

English Translation: park

Mandarin Pronunciation: gong1yuan2

Japanese Pronunciation: こうえん (kōen)

警察

English Translation: police

Mandarin Pronunciation: jing3cha2

Japanese Pronunciation: けいさつ (kēsatsu)

上司

English Translation: boss

Mandarin Pronunciation: shang4si1

Japanese Pronunciation: じょうし (jōshi)

Notice that when there’s a -ng final in Mandarin, there’s usually a corresponding long vowel in Japanese.

Knowing this guideline can be helpful for Mandarin speakers who are studying Japanese, and vice versa.

Be aware that this guideline does not apply for all cases.

Counterexamples

強調

English Translation: emphasis

Mandarin Pronunciation: qiang2diao4

Japanese Pronunciation: きょうちょう (kyōchō)

迷信

English Translation: superstition

Mandarin Pronunciation: mi3xin4

Japanese Pronunciation: めいしん (mēshin)

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