Now we get to the “d” section, but honestly I can barely call it that. There’s also a “z” and a “j” in this group! Some of these characters rarely get used, and others are way too common! What is “d” in Japanese?
Let’s first take a look at all five sounds that technically fall into this group, and then I will devote some additional time explaining the “trouble children” to you.
All [d] Sounds In Japanese
This group of characters is the voiced counterpart to the [t] sounds in Japanese. Keep that in mind because it might help explain the weirdness.
だ = da
ぢ = ji
づ = zu
で = de
ど = do
Alright, I’m giving this section a hard time but in all honesty it’s really not that big a deal. The ぢ and づ sounds deserve some extra attention to let’s hop into those now.
Special Notes On [ji] Sounds
Hey, you remember way back when, a long time ago when we covered the [z] sounds in Japanese?
Oh yeah, that’s wasn’t a long time ago, it was the last lesson!
Then you no doubt remember that the じ character represents the [ji] sound in Japanese. And yet, here we find ourselves with another character that makes the same sound.
What is the deal?
Well, now I can tell you that there are no [zi] or [di] sounds, so both of these get to use [ji] instead.
So why are there two different ways to write this same sound? It is believed that at some point in history じ and ぢ represented two sounds that were nearly identical, but still slightly different from each other.
However, they are the exact same sound in Japanese nowadays.
Kind of reminds you of the story about [wo] and [o] and the sounds that を can make, right?
Something else that you should know is that じ is almost always used in writing for the [ji] sound in Japanese. The alternate ぢ only gets used in a few specific words such as はなぢ for “nosebleed.”
It is still a good idea to learn this ぢ character so that you know how to read it, but it is certainly one of the least used ones on the list.
Special Notes On [zu] Sounds
Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the [zu] sound also gets two hiragana? Both ず and づ can be used, although once again it depends on the specific spelling of the word.
This of course happens because there is no [du] sound (sorry). It’s basically the same situation that we had above with [ji].
Anyway, both of these characters are transcribed as “zu” in English which would lead you to believe that they make the exact same sound, but in my experience the づ is usually pronounced more along the lines of [dzu] in Japanese.
That may look like a weird spelling, but this is actually a sound that you already know from the end part of the English word “goods” as in, the stuff that a store sells.
That [d] sound kind of sneaks in there right before the [z] takes over.
Something else that is good to know is that the ず character gets used 99% of the time in writing.
However, the づ gets used in the word つづく which means “to continue” and is a very, very common word that you are likely to see quite often.
So the irony is that づ is rarely ever used, except in one word that you will probably encounter every single day!
Examples For The New Stuff
Would you like some examples with that? I’ve got ’em ready for ya!
Here are some words that focus on the sounds that we’ve covered so far.
ただいま = I’m home!
でんわ = Telephone
どろ = Mud
すずか = Suzuka (female name)
ぜんぶ = All
じざい = Freely
Hey, did I mention that this version of the course that you’re going through right now is its second iteration?
Please don’t hate me, but I just noticed a mistake that I made in the original version. Namely, that word ぜんぶ which is the second to last example.
Hey, what the heck is this ぶ character? No fair, we haven’t covered that yet!
Yeah, that’s my bad. But fear not, it is literally in the upcoming lesson so you will learn it next!
Speaking Of Mistakes
You know what? I’m going to take this moment to talk about making mistakes in a foreign language since I just made one myself.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about avoiding mistakes when learning a new language. The rationale behind is it that if you make the same mistake too often, you will lock it in and cause a lot of problems.
Unfortunately what this mentality ends up doing is paralyze people from ever putting themselves out there and trying to use what they’ve learned.
This fear is totally natural, and understandable, since a lot of people get criticized online about the little mistakes that they make.
But I want to assure you that there is no need to avoid making mistakes.
As long as you continue to learn more Japanese, get lots of exposure to the language, and keep a learner’s mentality that is able to notice new things, you will eventually reach a point where you rarely mess up.
Hey, I’ve been learning and using English my entire life and I still make mistakes every once in a while.
I want you to have faith in yourself that any mess ups you make in Japanese will turn into opportunities to learn the language even better.
The best quote I ever heard on making mistakes comes from Brian Tracy when he said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly several times until you master it.”
If it’s worth it to become really good at Japanese, then it’s worth it to suck at Japanese until you improve.
Hang in there!
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