Knowing how to say thank you is critical in any language and makes interactions pleasant, and in some cases, even possible.
The Japanese phrase for thank you is Arigatō.
To pronounce this correctly, let’s first break it down into syllables:
As you can see, you have four separate sounds.
The first sound, “a”, is pronounced similar to “o” in the English word mop.
The second sound, “ri” is a little tricky as there really is no English equivalent for the Japanese letter r. So let’s break it down:
- According to Living Language, “If you speak American English, think of how you pronounce the ‘T’ sound in water, letter, meter, cutter, and so on…That soft ‘T’ sound (called “flap T”) is similar to the Japanese ‘R’ sound.” (I have also found that if you pronounce it sort of like a Spanish r (like in the words pero or toro), you’ll be close.)
- Now combine this specialized r sound with the i sound, like the ee in the English word bee, and you will have the pronunciation of the “ri” syllable in the Japanese word Arigatō.
The third sound, “ga” is pronounced similar to “go” in the English word got.
The fourth sound, “tō” is pronounced similar to the English word “toe”. But notice the unique punctuation (called chōonpu) over the letter o. This symbol means you hold the o sound longer when you say it (it’s actually a double pronunciation, but for beginners, a longer sound will usually do the trick).
Now put all of the sounds together. Keep repeating the word until you get more comfortable with it. Before you know it, you’ll have it!
For more useful Japanese words, go to WOW: Word of the Week
Source: Living Language
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