Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Usage of small tsu - sokuon - Chiisai tsu

We already have seen the usage of Hiragana letter along with small ya, yu and yo. In today’s lesson we will see how to make use of the small tsu (っ). This small tsu is called Sokuon (written in Kanji as 促音). Small Tsu literally translated to Japanese gives us Chiisai Tsu (Chiisai means Small)

There are some vocabularies even in English which might need an extra stress to the letter. For example, consider the word, “button”. As you see here the extra stress is over the letter ‘t’. Such words are there in Japanese language too. For example,

Chotto meaning “little”
Kekkon meaning “marriage”

So, how do we write these letters? This is when the small tsu (っ) comes into picture. You need to use a small tsu right before the word which needs stress.

Consider the word chotto. Breaking down this word a little bit further down gives us

Cho-(t)to ちょっと
Cho is nothing but chi + small yo ちょ
To is と
As the stress on t is before the word to, we need to add a small tsu before to like ちょっと
Similarly, the words matte まって, kitte きって, kekkon けっこん, etc
(matte means wait, Kitte is postage stamp and Kekkon is marriage)

There are certain rules in the usage of this sokuon (促音). Wiki says,
The sokuon cannot appear at the beginning of a word, before a vowel kana (a, i, u, e, or o), or before kana that begin with the consonants n, m, r, w, or y. In addition, it does not appear before voiced consonants (g, z, d, or b), or before h, except in loanwords.


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