じ and ぢ

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thorpig

Senior Member
Canadian English
I am at the initial stage of Japanese and am thus presently studying the kana.

According to the Hepburn system, these two characters are both written as 'ji'. Are they both pronounced as such, or are there subtle differences in the pronunciation? If so, how does one know when to use them? I know that 十 is spelt as じゅう, but it could have very well been ぢゆう if only phonetics are concerned.

Thank you in advance.
 
  • jp_fr_linguaphile

    Senior Member
    English USA
    They are both pronounced exactly the same way. 9 times out of 10 "ji" will be spelled じ. One reason ぢ is sometimes used is because of a "spelling" rule that says that consonants be softened before syllables are prefixed to them. For example, ま(間)+ちか(近)=まぢか(間近).
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    There is no difference in pronunciation between じ and ぢ. They are both /ʥi/ (close to the voiced ch in "church") in modern standard Japanese but it may contain [ʒi] (the voiced sh in "ship") as an allophone.

    The difference is purely orthographic. Telling between the two is sometimes possible with etymological knowledge. As jp_fr_linguaphile has pointed out, the two letters are often the results of voicing of し and ち, whose pronunciations are distinct. Examples are:
    ま(間)+ちか(近)=まか(間近) (jp_fr).
    いっぽん (一本) + ちょうし (調子) = いっぽんぢょうし (一本調子) monotonous

    As for 十, it was written historically じふ or しふ and probably pronounced thus, after Middle Chinese shiap (Dr. Bernhard Karlgren might be well turning in his grave at this transcription).
     

    student7

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    In today's Japanese, both じ and ぢ are pronounced in the exactly same manner.
    じ is affricative at the beginning of the word(eg. じかん),
    while ぢ doesn't appear at the position if my memory serves.
    In the middle of the word, however, both ぢ and じ tend to become affricative(eg. かじ、ちぢむ).

    Historical phonologists have revealed that
    in the 16th century these two letters were pronounced differently;
    じ was fricative while ぢ affricative.
    (Similarly ず was fricative while づ affricative.)

    An interesting thing for me is that most of today's Japanese native speakers believe that these two kanas are different in pronunciation,
    probably because they are easily affected by the literal difference.
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    In today's Japanese, both じ and ぢ are pronounced in the exactly same manner.
    じ is affricative at the beginning of the word(eg. じかん),
    while ぢ doesn't appear at the position if my memory serves.
    I would use affricate for the pronunciation of じ at the beginning of the word, but this may be just the latest fashion.

    There used to be words beginning with a ぢ. For example, 地面 was spelt ぢめん before the post-War language reform. Assuming the spelling change had no effect on the actual pronunciation, it is safe to say an initial ぢ was also an affricate.

    In the middle of the word, however, both ぢ and じ tend to become affricative(eg. かじ、ちぢむ).
    At an intervocalic position (between vowels, equalling to in the middle of a word), ぢ and じ become fricative (varying from dialect to dialect: [ʒi] ~ [ʑi]).

    An interesting thing for me is that most of today's Japanese native speakers believe that these two kanas are different in pronunciation,
    probably because they are easily affected by the literal difference.
    This is a curious observation.
     

    student7

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    At an intervocalic position (between vowels, equalling to in the middle of a word), ぢ and じ become fricative (varying from dialect to dialect: [ʒi] ~ [ʑi]).
    You're correct, Flaminius.
    Between voiced sounds, じ and ぢbecome fricative.
    I mistyped (probably because I was hazy with the jargons.(--;))
     

    student7

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    All of the above is true; One question (sorry, no kanjis on this PC) :
    willbe used for time, temple , but will be used for hemorrhoid(s) ?
    Is that right ?
    On my PC, じ is converted to 時,寺,and 痔(hemorrhoids).
    In the post-war reform, every ぢ at the beginning of words was
    redefined as じ.
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Hi Ao,

    I occasionally see the adverts too. The Japanese pharmaceutical industry, for reasons I cannot fathom, seems to have a fixation on for . This is in fact more correct historically.
     

    student7

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    According to 広辞苑 and 大辞林, two of the most popular Japanese dictionaries, there is no word that begins with ぢ.
    Also in these dictionaries じ is used for 痔.
    Therefore in formal Japanese じ is the right letter for 痔.
    However, from the point of view of practical Japanese, I think either じ or ぢ can be used for 痔.
    I know the advertisement which you mentioned.
    The reason for its use of ぢ is probably that it wants to make the product look more sensational by resorting to the old way of using ぢ.
     
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