Wednesday, April 9, 2008


We were watching Nana-TV today, the episode where Hachi and Nana go to see a Trapnest concert. During the song, subtitles in romanji and English were displayed. Though I noticed this before, this time I really started thinking about how much Japanese language naturally fits singing and karaoke.

Karaoke was created in Japan. I believe that the structure of the language plays a big part in Japan being the origin of karaoke. Japanese language is syllabic, all words are made up of single consonant and vowel pairs, occasionally, a consonant is added at the end of the word. This type of structure allows for songs to be sung either fast or slow or syllable by syllable and to have any individual syllable be stretched out and still sound normal.

Japanese alphabet, kana, is also syllabic. Instead of each symbol representing a letter as it does in other languages, it represents a syllable. As opposed to English, kana is a lot easier to read. Kana consists of about 50 characters. While in English you need to know how to pronounce letter combinations and words you don't know may pose a problem, in kana, you're just reading individual syllables which, in turn, form words.

In karaoke, either the word or syllable is highlighted. In English, the syllable can be between 2 and 5, or more, characters in length, in Japanese, it's just 1. Even when displayed in romanji, Japanese words written with English letters, words are easy to read and pronounce even though you may not know how to read Japanese or know what the words mean.

Here's to Daisuke Inoue, Kanpai!

No comments:

Post a Comment