Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Hirgana: Lesson 12 - 'し' [shi] & 'じ' [ji]

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し, in hiragana, or シ in katakana, and the variant form ㋛, is one of the Japanese kana, which each represent one mora. Both represent the phoneme /si/ although for phonological reasons, the actual pronunciation is 'shi' as in 'she'. The shapes of these kana have origins in the character 之. The katakana form has become increasingly popular as an emoticon in the Western world due to its resemblance to a smiling face.

'し' is romanized 'shi' and pronounced 'shi' as in the English 'she'.

Word beginning with 'し':

  • 死/ (shi -> death)
  • 死ぬ/ぬ (shinu -> to die)
  • 知る/る (shiru -> to know; to understand)
  • 4月/がつ (shigatsu -> April)
  • 指紋/もん (shimon -> fingerprint)

Other sounds:
The pronunciation of the character 'し' can also be changed to 3 different sounds.

Stroke order:

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The 'し' stroke order is easy. It's just like drawing umbrella's handle; beginning from the top then smoothly slide it down and up a little.


A dakuten may also be added to this character. But instead of changing the pronunciation to 'z' sound like the rest of the 's' characters... 'し' [shi] with dakuten added -> じ [ji] is pronouced 'ji' like with the English alphabet 'G'.

Words with 'じ':
  • い (jii -> old man)
  • 自殺/さつ (jisatsu -> suicide)
  • 時間/かん (jikan -> hour; time)
  • 事件/けん (jiken -> case; affair; incident)


In the Japanese language there are also contracted words called 拗音 (yo-on). They are made up of two letters written together. A hiragana ending with “i” such as ki (き), shi (し), etc... followed by a small ya (ゃ), yu (ゅ) or yo (ょ).
The hiragana’s ending with “i” also include their dakuten and handakuten versions.

The yoon’s for 'shi' are:

  • しゃ/sha (Pronounced: sha) Ex. 写真/しゃしん shashin (picture)
  • しゅ/shu (P: shu) Ex. 旬/しゅん shun (fresh)
  • しょ/sho (P: shyo) Ex. 初心者/しょしんしゃ shoshinsha (freshman/newbie)

The yoon’s for 'ji' are:

  • じゃ/ja (P: jiya) Ex. じゃあね jaane ([good] bye) 
  • じゅ/ju (P: jyu) Ex. 塾/じゅく juku (tutor/tutoring center)
  • じょ/jo (P: jyo) Ex. 少女/しょうじょ shoujo (little girl)

A full list can be found here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y%C5%8Don


Task: You shall write 'し' & 'じ' 50 - 100 times in your textbook. If you want, like with the previous lessons, write 'し' 70 times and 'じ' 30 times . Memorize the shape, the stroke order, the sound, the pronunciation (echo the sound of the character each time you write it down), etc.

PS: The Hiragana: Lesson 7 - 'き' [ki] & 'ぎ' [gi] will be edited and upgraded shortly. We will inform you when it's fully done. 

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