北 pronounciation help

Hi everyone, I have just learnt the vocab きた but in the audio sample, and in google translate too, it sounds to my ears like sh- ta, not ki ta. Have I missed something about how to say き (ki/kee I thought) or am I just not hearing it well?? I’m a bit confused!

Thanks,
Jamie.

It’s indeed “kita” when I hear it here: https://www.wanikani.com/vocabulary/北

You will hear people pronouncing things differently sometimes(I don’t know why), always trust the written version.

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It doesn’t sound like “sh” to me, but it can be a bit “breathier” than a “ki” in English, I suppose.

Here are some other recordings of it, 3 of which sound more like the WK audio, and the last of which probably sounds more like what you were expecting. (Though I’m not 100% sure of the native-ness of the last one).

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The ‘k’ ki is pronounced with the tongue really close to the roof of your mouth (e.g. compare saying ‘kit’ and ‘cube’ or ‘parakeet’).
It’s a bit dense, but it’s this https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatalization_(phonetics)

Also, I’ve read that there is a tendency to almost whisper the first syllable of some words when they’re unaccented, but I can’t find the reference.

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It is indeed a ki sound. This phenomenon is called devoicing. You may also have noticed (if you do any listening practice or watch any Japanese TV) that です and ます often sound like des and mas, rather than desu and masu. This is the same thing.

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Arigato gozimasu everyone!

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