Sunday Soundcheck 33

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Our previous soundcheck on December 7th was a strange one. After a long break for holidays and, the ever-necessary, resting up after vacation here’s the next soundcheck; however, I can’t promise a normal one until next week.

As you may recall, we are making our second pass through the ‘T’ column with all of the sounds accented to make the ‘D’ column. In Japanese we don’t make a strict ‘T’ sound depending on the vowel: often Romanizing the sounds as ta, chi, tsu, te, to. Last time we saw how the accented chi was considered to be an unpleasant sound and is generally replaced with the accented shi sound. This time around, we have the accented tsu sound – often written zu – which is also not euphonic. The accented su sound – also written as zu – is considered preferable.

My Japanese-English dictionary lists no entries for words starting with this character. Other dictionaries list some words, but they are odd cases. One may wonder why a character that isn’t used even exists. The simple answer is that it does get used, just not normally and not at the beginning.

The common case for using our hiragana character, づ, is to attach a suffix to a word. We often accent sounds when they are tied to the end of another word. This practice gives a sense of continuation and often makes the sound easier to say quickly. (As for the katakana character, ヅ, don’t expect to see it with any frequency.)

zukuri (づくり・作り・造り) is a suffix used to denote something being made. Handmade or homemade is written tezukuri (てづくり・手作り). Rengazukuri (れんがづくり) means ‘made of brick’.

zume (づめ・詰め) comes from the word for stuffing something and is used to denote how something is packaged: kanzume (かんづめ・缶詰), canned; binzume (びんづめ・瓶詰), bottled; hakozume (はこづめ・箱詰), boxed.

Next week we’ll be back to a standard post:

  • at least one word each, starting with hiragana and katakana
  • words generally useful in normal speech
  • words (inexplicably) not appearing in most textbooks
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