The 'z' sound in hiragana

I just did a review (手作り aka てづくり) where the something new to me came up…a ‘z’- sound that was づ and not ず. the vocal pronunciation definitely sounds like ‘tezukuri’ and not ‘tedukuri’…so what is the rule for using づ instead of ず?

Does anyone know if they actually mean the same thing, or are pronounced differently, but the difference is so subtle an untrained ear can’t hear it?

yes I searched to see if this question was asked before.

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I believe they are pronounced the same. Although I’ve heard very subtle differences in the Learn Kanji app, but the difference is so tiny it isn’t even worth mentioning (but I did anyways xD).


From what native speakers have told me, ず and づ are pronounced the same. Maybe they do have a slightly different official pronunciation but nowadays I think they’re pronounced the same. It’s just like how ブ and ヴ share the same pronunciation since Japanese people have trouble with the v sound.


I hear that there are dialects where ず and づ sound different, but in the standard dialect they sound the same. Of course before the rendaku they sound different, so it’s important to have different kana.


Okay, found this:

And this:

…but it doesn’t fully explain why there’s still づ popping up.


Etymology. And a bit of rendaku.


so having rendaku in the middle of a word is actually telling me something about how the kanji (and not the hiragana) is written? Sorry if that sounds a bit dumb for me to say, but i had been equating rendaku to the French elison, which is strictly about the speed of speech.

How did I get tagged in this?

Anyway, yes a word like つくる will be rendakued with づ. Though if you type it phonetically most IMes should handle it fine.

It just means that the 作り in 手作り is from 作る, which is つくる and not すくる, so it wouldn’t make much sense for it to be てずくり.


There’s a nice explanation and map here

I’d say it’s roughly related, as well as roughly related to gemination (like the shortening of く/つ/ち in compound words like がっこう), but note that because japanese is moraic, it doesn’t actually shorten the time it takes to say the word, just makes the pronounciation “lazier”. The basic principle is to make back-to-back unvoiced hard consonants require less mouth movement to say.


Woah…that’s nifty!

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I don’t like that map because even though it’s everyhwere it’s fairly old and like most things in Japan this really mainly applies to those 50 and up.

But it’s also especially suspicious Hokkaido is up there as Hokkaido is mainly standard Japanese as since it only became part of Japan recently. So unless a shit ton of people from Tohoku moved there it should likely be yellow.

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This map appears to be saying that じ and ず are also pronounced the same as each other in the green area. Or am I misunderstanding something?

Yes, that’s a thing, they’d all merged into one sound in the north into something that kinda sounds like “dzi”. But for northern dialects, it’s the least of your problems.

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But… those are completely different vowel sounds.

How long until every sound is just “dzi”?


I think it means the consonant sound. So じゅ and ず would be the same(?).

I ended up quoting an old post of yours that came up in the search results, that’s how :slight_smile:️. Thanks for taking the time to provide an answer though.

@Leebo: thanks, that makes sense.

@bblum : the fact that there are 4 different pronunciation schemes for such widely differing sounds kinda blows my mind. Thanks for providing that.

It appears specifically as [d͡ʑi] in the north and [d͡zɯᵝ] in the south (of Tohoku.

As for how and why I’m not entirely sure. But stranger sound changes have happened.

Japanese is infinitely complicated, it appears.

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Frankly I wouldn’t worry about it too much, for the vast majority of people, it’s two separate sounds. But also if you type it wrong it’s the same sound so it’s obvious, and again most keyboards account for that. I think in the case of ぢ which is less common, a word like 縮まる is more likely to be accidentally written as ちじまる since づ is much more common thanks to words like 続ける and 気づく