“Extraordinary things like this occur frequently to most of us, but we disregard them, because of our lack of understanding, and we think they are mere coincidences.” – Roger McDonald

Now that you’ve learned the pronunciation of the “main” hiragana, there are a bunch of kinda-sorta subsets you need to learn. One of those is called “dakuten” (see your hiragana chart to find the “dakuten” section).

It’s really easy to know when you’re looking at a dakuten kana. Basically, dakuten are hiragana you already know plus a little “quotation mark” or “little circle” next to them. By adding one of these little dakuten to certain hiragana, you change their sound and pronunciation, meaning you essentially double (or in a few cases triple) the usefulness of a single kana.

For example: か (ka) is just “ka,” but when you add a dakuten to it, か becomes が (pronounced “ga” instead of “ka.”)

But, we’re focusing on pronunciation right now, not writing, so that doesn’t matter too much until the next chapter. The important thing is that you remember what a dakuten is (just a little quotation mark or circle placed next to a kana to change its pronunciation).

Now let’s look at the pronunciation. Just follow along like you did last chapter. These will probably be easier to take down, in fact.

Dakuten 1: がぎぐげご (ga gi gu ge go) Pronunciation

Before applying dakuten to these kana, they used to be “ka, ki, ku, ke, ko.” Now, with the quotes next to them, they are “ga, gi, gu, ge, go.” Very similar sounds (ka vs ga) but also different, all because of a little dakuten.

Dakuten 2: ざじずぜぞ (za ji zu ze zo) Pronunciation

The only weird one in this column is じ. Instead of pronouncing it like the others (zi), we make a (ji) sound instead. Simple enough to pronounce, as long as you are aware of it.

Dakuten 3: だぢづでど (da dzi dzu de do) Pronunciation

ぢ and づ are somewhat difficult to pronounce for some people, but luckily they are very rarely used. You won’t see these very often, but even so give the pronunciation a shot. It’s a combination of a D+Z sound. Practice this column extra if you need to, but don’t spend a ton of time on it. In terms of how much you’ll need to use it, and how much time you (could) potentially spend on it, it’s not worth it right now. Keep thinking about it and practicing it as it comes up, but don’t obsesss.

Dakuten 4: ばびぶべぼ (ba bi bu be bo) Pronunciation

There’s nothing weird about this one… yet. Wait until you get to the next set, though. Exact same kana, but different dakuten.

Dakuten 5: ぱぴぷぺぽ (pa pi pu pe po) Pronunciation.

These dakuten are only applied to the “ha, hi, hu, he, ho” column, and you won’t see them anywhere else. They’re small circles (instead of quotes) and they turn “ha, hi, hu, he, ho” into “pa, pi, pu, pe, po.” Pretty easy to pronounce, you just have to remember what sounds they are in the first place.

Before moving on to the next section, make sure you go through and solidify the pronunciation of the above dakuten kana. Nothing up there should be too tricky for you, it’s just important you are sticking with (and continuing to think about) the pattern so that they’ll be easy to apply to your reading and writing studies (coming up).

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