Devoicing of U


New Member
Kutsu wa haite imasu ga, kutsushita wa haite imasen.

The above example is from Rosetta Stone. My question is regarding pronunciation. When I hear the sentence pronounced, it sounds as if the u at the end of imasu before the ga is being pronounced ie i-ma-su. From what Ive heard previously, the u is always silent.

Am I hearing this spoken correctly? Or should the u still be silent?
  • Bakamono

    スペイン語 - 西班牙语
    I've been also able to hear several times the final -u of the -masu form, although we are always taught it is silent. Nevertheless, the sound is still... how to say?... kind of 'soft'...

    I think -but I'm just trying to figure it out- it's a way to give a slight emphasys to the sentence...
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    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    The phonological term for a silent U is devoicing of /u/. Conditions that trigger this phenomenon are touched upon briefly here.

    English Wikipedia s.v. Japanese phonology said:
    Japanese vowels, especially /i/ and /u/, tend to be devoiced when between unvoiced consonants except when they are in accented moras. Additionally, /i/ and /u/ are optionally devoiced following a voiceless consonant and at the end of an utterance.
    Since the /u/ in "haite imasu ga" is between a voiceless and a voiced consonant, the probability of devoicing is not very high.
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