Sunday Soundcheck 21


Time for our second pass through the third column of the chart. When we add a sound change accent to this row, the sounds change from sa, shi, su, se, so to za, ji, zu, ze, zo. Let’s kick things off with za represented in hiragana as ざ and in katakana as ザ.

Well, looks like my fears have been realized. When I started the Soundcheck, I was wondering if any character would turn up which had no words meeting the two requirements. It seems the katakana za is just that. A few place names came up:

Zaiiru, Zagurebu, Zarutsuburugu (ザイール、ザグレブ、ザルツブルグ) are the Japanese names for Zaire of the Congo, Zagreb of Croatia, and Saltzburg of Austria.

Zairu and zakku (ザイル、ザック) also came up, but they don’t meet the requirement of being easy to fit into daily speech. Seil is a German word and it is used as zairu in Japanese to mean “climbing rope”. Most people won’t have need to sit around chatting about climbing rope. Zakku is short for ryukkusakku (リュックサック) from the word ‘rucksack’, but I have never heard it used; it is much more common to shorten it to ryukku (リュック). I know this word well because I am rarely seen without my backpack.

On to the proper hiragana words. Again, there are not so many; some of them are odd; and others often appear in textbooks. All this leaves little for my choice. Let us go with zatsu (ざつ), which is a -na adjective meaning slipshod, sloppy, or careless. We write it in kanji using 雑.


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