Sunday Soundcheck 22


The second sound in the ‘s’ column was shi, which is written in some series as si. It is not purely the same as the ‘sh’ sound in English, but also not purely like the ‘s’; hence, this confusion about representing it in our alphabet. For the sake of foreigners I prefer using shi, but I hear (and believe) that for those studying the language seriously, the simpler form, si, is better. When the sound is accented, it is typically written as ji or zi, depending on which system is used. Again, for foreigners reading quickly, the first is better; for learners of the language, the second.

Ji is represented in hiragana as じ and in katakana as ジ. Unlike last week’s paucity of choices for words, there are numerous words starting with this sound… oh, which to choose?

Jirenma (ジレンマ) has come up recently in conversation. I have kicked its use around with a good friend and came to the conclusion that its meaning is nearly exactly the same as the English word, dilemma, from which it comes. This maybe a good point to mention that the ‘n’ sound, when appearing before ‘ma’, ‘mi’, ‘mu’, ‘me’, or ‘mo’, sometimes sounds more like ‘m’. As a result, some people would write this word as jiremma. I will explain this more when I reach ‘n’ in about 50 weeks or so.

Oh, let’s choose jissaitekini (じっさいてきに) for the hiragana word. Jissaiteki refers to practical or realistic things; however, by adding ni to the end we make it an adverb meaning ‘practically’, as opposed to ‘theoretically’. One should be able to use this in conversation often. We write it in kanji as 実際的に.

Bonus round, jirai (じらい) came up in TV show discussions a bit when I first arrived in Japan. I haven’t heard it as much lately, because political issues shift as media directs. Jirai is the word for landmine. We can write it in kanji as 地雷; the two parts being ‘earth’ and ‘thunder’.


One Response to “Sunday Soundcheck 22”

  1. Sunday Soundcheck 32 « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] expressed in Roman letters as ‘ji’. Long ago this was a different sound from the second character from the ’s’ row with a voiced consonant, which is also expressed as ‘ji’; […]

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