Japanese is a complicated language that can be difficult for Spanish speakers to learn. The pronunciation is difficult, but if it breaks down it is easier to handle. This article will explain in parts the pronunciation of each Japanese way to say "sister".
Step 1. Learn the different forms of the word "sister" in Japanese
You will find each one as a separate part below.
Part 1 of 6: Oneesama or Big Sister (Very Courteous)
Step 1. Learn the most respectful word to say big sister
It is "oneesama" and translates to "elder sister". However, this is not a word that is used every day. You would use it if you were apologizing to your sister for a serious offense, were expressing your admiration for her, or were a very polite person in any situation.
Step 2. You have to break it down
The word has several elements that it would be good to take into account. In Japanese, honorifics (suffixes that indicate status and respect) are very important. It is best to understand them.
- "O-" is a prefix that indicates respect. In other forms of the word sister it is optional, but you shouldn't remove it from "oneesama".
- "-sama" is the most respectful honorific of conventional Japanese. Emphasize that the speaker is of a lower status than the person to whom he refers. In translations from Japanese to Spanish, "Señor", "Señora" or "Don" is often used. It is used for both genders.
- If you omit "o-" when using "-sama" it would be like saying "your highness, my illustrious comadre".
- "Ne" or "nee" are found in all the words that mean "big sister" in Japanese.
Step 3. Make the "o" sound as in the word gold or hello
However, you will need to make a "pure" sound. The "o" in Japanese never has a "w" sound at the end like in English, for example.
Step 4. "-nee-" is a bit difficult
Perhaps the first thing you think is that it is pronounced like the word "knee" in English, but the pronunciation is actually more similar to the sound in Spanish, only more elongated. Again, you have to make the sound "pure". Don't let it turn into another sound, like the "y" sound. Note that "nee" has two syllables, which can be a bit difficult to pronounce. Clap once for each syllable and say them slowly to understand how they work.
Step 5. "-sama" is simpler
Most likely, the pronunciation is as you imagine it. The "a" in Japanese is pronounced like "father." Again, don't let it turn into another sound. Make the sound short and cut. "Sa-ma '.
Step 6. Match the sounds
Japanese is spoken with minimal inflection, so try not to emphasize any of the syllables. You must sound monotonous.
Part 2 of 6: Oneesan and Neesan or Big Sister (Courteous)
Step 1. Decompose these two words
- "Oneesan" is more polite because of the "o-".
- "-san" is respectful. You would use it with someone who is the same as you socially or who you don't know very well.
Step 2. Pronounce "o-" and "-nee-" in the same way as described above
Step 3. Pronounce "sa"
This sound in "-san" is pronounced in the same way as in "-sama". A phenomenal characteristic of Japanese is that the sounds are consistent and do not vary depending on the words, with very few exceptions. The "n" sound in Japanese is the same as in Spanish. However, if it varies, it might sound like the "m", depending on who is saying it.
Step 4. Bring them together
Part 3 of 6: Oneechan and Neechan or Big Sister (Casual)
Step 1. You have to separate it into parts
- "-chan" is an honorific that is used almost exclusively for women. It's a casual, friendly, and even loving particle that you could use when talking to a little girl or that a school-age girl would use to refer to her closest friends.
- The respectful "o-" in combination with the friendly "-chan" adds a sense of adoration to the formal expression.
Step 2. Pronounce the word
The pronunciation is the same as explained for "o-", "-nee-", "n" and "a". The "ch" sounds the same as in Spanish.
Step 3. Put them together
Part 4 of 6: Ane or older sister
Step 1. Learn the word Ane to say big sister
This expression is a bit different. The forms that have been reviewed so far are used to address your sister. However, "ane" is used when talking about your older sister.
Note the "-ne-" that appears in all words to say "big sister."
Step 2. The pronunciation is the same as above
Part 5 of 6: Aneki or Sister (Informal)
Step 1. Use this form for very casual interactions
It is also a slang word for a female member of a street gang, but that's another story.
- "Ane" is pronounced as mentioned above.
- "ki" sounds like take away. Don't lengthen the "i" sound; keep it short, as explained above.
Step 2. Bring them together
Part 6 of 6: Imouto or Younger Sister
Step 1. Use "Imouto" as the word for "little sister."
Older siblings usually address younger siblings by name, so there is little need to use words that mean "younger sister."
- Don't add the honorifics "-chan" or "-kun" at the end. These are only used in conjunction with "imouto" when you want to be rude and condescending to your little sister.
- Add "-san" when you're talking about someone else's little sister.
- "-ou-" indicates that you have to duplicate the sound of the "o", as you did previously with the "e" of "nee".
- The "i" and the "o" are pronounced as above. The "m" and the "t" sound like in Spanish.