Getting a handle on small kana

Q: Richard:

Could you do me a big favor and give me a handle on the usage of small kana?

For example:

Katakana:

ミュージック・ゲーム

Mi yu zi tsu ku * ge-mu

which I read as Music and Games (this is from Amazon.jp by the way.  I was looking at your camera on Amazon.com and someone mentioned it’s a lot cheaper at Amazon.jp but all the menus are in Japanese).

Anyway, there are a couple of small kana here.  One is the yu.  I get the MiYu for the “Mu” in Music.

I see this all the time.  Mostly, I figure I can ignore the small katakana and still figure out the word anyway, but sometimes it’s used and sometimes it’s not used like how the Mi Yu in “Music” but the tsu is ignored.

However, I can’t figure out why the tsu is in there and I can’t find any online references that clear this up!

Any help?  Thanks!

A:  Hi Daniel.

The small tsu ッ is an exception if that it doesn’t make a sound, it just means “take a small break”  so with ミュージック you just put a small tiny pause between the ジ and the ク Again it’s one of those things you pick up naturally with lots of listening practice.

The other small kana are pronounced much the same as the bigger ones, but are blending with the previous sound.  So ミュ isn’t pronounced “mu” and then “yu”,  you blend them together to make myu.  Pretty easy really!

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