Yes We Can….Speak English?
When Japanese people learn English, they tend to write out the approximate pronunciation of each word using katakana. Since this forces English words to conform to the sounds and syllables of the Japanese language, it is an absolutely horrible method of learning to speak English. It might help somebody pass a written test, but it would barely make sense when spoken aloud.
Here’s an example:
- English: Ham and Eggs
- Katakana: ハムアンドエッグス [Hamu ando Eggusu]
What a mess. The original English should be only 3 syllables, but the katakana-ized version is more than doubled that. It also adds unnecessary sounds that were never present in the original English.
A few days ago, an alternate method of learning English pronunciation was introduced on TV:
Unfortunately, it still seems to rely on katakana. The only thing that is different is that the expert who created this system prefers to shorten everything. Rather than “Hamu ando Eggusu,” we get “Hamu n Eggu.” It ends up sounding more like English, but it still results in weird pronunciation. The loss of so many unnecessary syllables speeds one’s speech up to a more natural rate, but many sounds are dropped, such as the “s” that should come at the end of “eggs.”
The highlight of the clip is a delivery of Barack Obama’s famous “Yes We Can” speech by comedian Hiroshi Tamura. Tamura had been given 2 weeks to prepare his pronunciation using the shortened katakana study method.