How to pronounce ~あい sounds?

Hi everyone, This is my first post (at last!)
One thing I don’t really understand is the pronunciation of ~あい sounds (ない、ばい、だい…), are they pronounced (roughly) /aj/, /aɪ/, /a.ɪ/ or something else? (This is the IPA for those who don’t know)

Edit: Forgot to add this, most of the times it sounds like /aj/, as in ない but sometimes it sounds to me like /aɪ/; maybe it’s only me…

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あい is more or less “aye”.
So ない would be nye, ばい bye, and だい dai (or die, for all you morbid lurkers out there).


It’s worth noting that in very informal (usually masculine) speech, words ending in ai-sounds frequently are pronounced ee (as in ehhhh). Not something you should learn to do in more polite settings, though. Example: 本当? 行きたくねえよ! (Really?! I don’t wanna go!)


Yep you’ll encounter a lot in anime and manga.


Interesting. I didn’t know that!
Maybe probably replying by email to get the badge

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On another note, is じ pronounced as /ʒɪ/ (as in vision) or /dʒɪ/? (as in gerund) Because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard both in WK. And is there any difference between じ and ぢ, in their pronunciation?

For all your pronunciation questions, I’d recommend checking out Dogen. He has a few free phonetics videos on youtube and the rest of them are available to buy on his Patreon. They’re really well made and really useful.

Also, in lesson #43 he says じ is pronounced as dʑ at the beginning of a word, and can often become ʑ after a vowel. (He also has more information on this in the video.) I believe he said じ and ぢ once had differences in pronunciation but in modern Japanese do not.

In another lesson, he also covers how to pronounce あい if you want to check that out!


Thank you!
Now I can stop bothering everyone. : ) I’ll be sure to watch his stuff.


This is because Japanese is mora based rather than syllable based. So あい is technically two mora and you can hear the slight elongation that makes it sound like /aɪ/.

This is how the official pronunciation of たい, for example, is た+い which can sound almost exactly like a diphthong but is very subtly different.

All of this is something that comes with immersion and listening so it’s hard to pick out at first.

Some other cool things to look out for:

  1. Listen to the different ways Kenichi and Kyoko pronounce し sounds. Kyoko is more sibilant.
  2. Kenichi’s ん sounds like it’s made with the middle of the tongue when it doesn’t start a word.
  3. The dʑ and ʑ versions of じ can be heard on 児童 and 幼児. Kenichi’s recordings are particularly easy to hear the difference. In fact, Kyoko seems to pronounce じ almost exactly the same in both cases.

This is exactly what I wanted to know, thanks!

but ん never starts a word :thinking:

The one I find interesting is that ん is usually /ɴ/ at the end of a word, but I often hear people pronounce an /m/ instead

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Sorry, I shouldn’t have used the hiragana when I meant the /ɴ/ sound itself. :slight_smile: I’m talking about the な に ぬ ね の row like in 内容.

I think that’s related to the way that ん is pronounced before a plosive consonant like in 三百 where the lips are closed and it sounds like /m/.


Yeah, but I mean at the end of a word or in isolation.

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I’ve heard this as well. I mentioned 三百 because I think they do it for the same reason. They just close their mouths after the word, intentionally or otherwise.

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