What is the correct pronunciation?

It happens from time to time that the pronunciation I hear from google does not match the first letter of the word. For instance:

理由 supposed to sound like ‘Riyū’

If I request to hear this word, it will come out as ‘biyu’.

However, I know that if a word precedes this word, I will hear the ‘R’ instead of the ‘B’. Now, its either one of the two possibilities: 1) google makes the correct pronunciations, its just that some words come out differently depending on whether they have a liaison with another word 2) google makes a mistake, and I should trust the writting.

You can test this directly on google:
https://www.google.ca/ => translate raison into japanese

For Japanese you can use the plugin Rikaikun for google Chrome, or a similar one for Firefox (I don’t know the name). When you hover over the words you will get the translation etc. Its not an answer to your question, but it can definitely help

Yes I already use Rikaikun, I couldn’t live without it. Good thing to mention it for those who don’t know about it.

Its a problem with the Google Translate audio. I tried "離婚” and “リラックス” and both were the r sound. Conclusion, R is always the r sound in japanese.

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Alright I will go with that answer if nobody has anything to add on the matter.


same thing with this word, this time the W becomes a B. What’s up with that? Why Bs ???

‘Wariai’ => ‘Bariai’

理由 is pronounced ri-yū or li-yū.
I read somewhere that the sound included in らりるれろ is in some cases more similar to “r” and in other cases more similar to “l”.

Is it important to learn IPA?

Please don’t take me the wrong way…but try not to pronounce Japanese with an ‘R’ sound. It sounds really, really horrible!

‘R’ is only used for romanization. Though the Japanese R is not strictly an ‘L’ sound, you’ll sound so much better making your pronunciation closer to an L, rather than an R.

There’s some You-tube out there if you need help eg. Fastest/Easiest "R" Line Pronunciation (Japanese らりるれろ) - YouTube - especially from 2:44. Even the Japanese heritage guy mentions how grose the English (aka American) R sounds, and recommends you start with the L - but don’t over pronounce the L’s, “keep them tight”.

I started with an L sound right from the beginning and never worried about tongue position, etc. Then one day, magic! I can pronounce my ら、り、る、れ、ろ the Japanese way, 99% :slight_smile: But I can’t roll a European R to save my life, go figure:)

Yes I know that. The japanese R is combinaison of r, l, and even d. I dont have much problem with it since as a french speaker I already had in my life to learn the english R, and also I tried the spanish R in the past. My pronunciation is ‘acceptable’ I believe in japanese.

But the question is why google making the japanese R sound like a B ?


In both cases 理容院 and 美容院, I hear a ‘B’.

…or maybe for it’s more a like a D ? I’m not sure. Do you think it sounds correctly?

Now try:

is it a correct pronunciation to you?



But what about the pronunciation from google? is it correct?

write 理由, and click to listen

sorry but that was the question


@etergeon: No, it’s not the correct pronunciation. Google sounds like crap - after all, it’s just a machine translation. 理容院 incorrectly comes out sounding like ‘hospital’, lol.

I hear the “B” thingy too in 理 由, but if you reverse the word ie. 由理, you can hear the sound better - but still it’s not the greatest. It does weird things with Mandarin, too.

I’ve never thought that they have R sound… we don’t have R sound in Korean either.
I don’t know how to listen prononciation in google.
I only use a dictionary provided by the Internet. Isn’t there any online dictionary English to Japanese? I think the sound of dictionary would be better.
Well, Sometimes Might be R in the first place of word. I don’t know…:slight_smile:

well, when I say “R sound”, I mean the R sound in Japanese. I don’t mean the english R. Its the same when we speak of the R sound in Spanish; the Spanish language does not have an ‘english R sound’, but we still speak of the ‘R sound’ in spanish. I was refering to the り character in Japanese. The problem is that google, for a reason I can’t figure, decide to pronounce it as a ‘B’, but ONLY when its the first word of the sentence. I’m a programmer myself and have no clue on how they ended up with that problem.

MAYBE it has to do with the liaison with an hypothetic previous word, that is statistically placed behind that word, and end up with a ‘B’ sound.