Pronunciation "Exceptions"

I have some questions about pronunciation again. I learned the simple rules for how to pronounce the hiragana characters, and some expetions (like おう and えい sounds are more like oo and ee instead of ou and ei etc…). Basic guides to hiragana and pronunciation has this information and a little bit more, but not that much. It leaded me to think pornunciation was really simple, but by playing some of the vocabulary at WaniKani I have thought otherwise. Here are some “exeptions” I noticed, if you could provide me with why or when this happens that would be great.

つ and ふ are often pronounced more like “ts” and “f” instead of “tsu” and “fu”. Like in "はつか / 二十日 " or “ふとい / 太い”, but not in “ひとつ / 一つ” or “ふるい / 古い”.
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ひ sometimes becomes similar to “sh” or “sj”, like in “おんなのひと / 女の人”, but not in “ひ / 火”.

ん and “g” somtimes take on a “ng” type sound, like in " よんせん / 四千" and “みぎて / 右手”, but not always.

Any help on why and when this happens would be greatly appreciated. Any good source for full guides on pronunciation would also be great, but I am a beginner.

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This addresses just one of your questions, but maybe it has some insights into pronunciation overall as well. (though to be honest, I’m not sure it’s going to help with hearing “sj”)

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Thank you :slight_smile: I now realized the “sj” is only very close to the sound in my native language (Norwegian). It does not makes sense in english, haha.

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Tofugu has a comprehensive, beginner-friendly guide to pronunciation:


It talks about some of the things you noticed - dropping certain vowel sounds, and the nasal ん and “g” sounds.

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