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Hiragana Lesson 4: たちつてと and だぢづでど

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Japanesepod101

Illustration and voice by Shou Yukiya
Voice by Yukiha Saki
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Hiragana Romaji Mnemonics

ta

da

Is it a coincidence? This Hiragana really looks like t and a spelled together.

chi

zi/ji

  1. A Chinese man with a long chin.
  2. The sound you make when you sneeze.

tsu

zu

A big tsunami wave.

te

de

  1. A telescope.
  2. T and E are combined.

to

do

Imagine that the lower part is a toe and the upper part indicates so.

But be careful that the pronunciation of this Hiragana is NOT 'toe'.

About Hiragana ぢ and づ

The pronunciations of ぢ and づ are exactly the same as じ and ず respectively. Actually, ぢ and づ are rarely used nowadays except for a few words such as はなぢ (hanazi, or nosebleed) and つづく (tsuzuku, or continue).

ぢ and づ had pronunciations different from じ and ず in ancient time. And thus they were actively used in classic literature. But because modern Japanese does not differentiate their pronunciations anymore, according to Modern Kana Usage, ぢ and づ are to be replaced by じ and ず in most cases. You may treat ぢ and づ as two special Hiragana.

About Japanese "ch"

As with Japanese "sh" and English "sh", the Japanese "ch" is actually different from English "ch". Please listen to the pronunciation demonstration. Anyway, if you cannot find the difference and you are not after perfect accent, just use English "ch".

ち is the only Hiragana with the consonant "ch". You may wonder if the Japanese language has "ti". The answer is yes and no.

Yes. The Japanese language had "ti" in ancient time. But the pronunciation gradually transformed to "chi". And yes. In today's Japanese, people can "spell" the "ti" sound by using the Hiragana て and い or their Katakana counterparts テ and イ. They are "spelt" as てぃ and ティ in which the て and テ represent the consonant "t" and the smaller ぃ and ィ represent the vowel "i". Similarly, でぃ and ディ represent the sound "di".

And no. Neither "ti" nor "di" exists in modern Japanese language. I mean not in traditional everyday Japanese. But because of the influence of English, these two sounds now exist in loanwords such as ティー (tea, the ー indicates that it's a long vowel).

Hiragana つ and the consonant "ts"

つ is the only Hiragana with the consonant "ts". "ts" is not uncommon in English (cats, pizza, etc). And the Japanese term "tsunami" is now an English word. So it should not be a problem. But since some American people pronounce "tsunami" without the "t" sound, they should do some practice when pronouncing this Hiragana.

How to write:

hiragana ta

hiragana chi

hiragana tsu

hiragana te

hiragana to

The stroke order illustrations are made by D.328, used under CCSA3.0.