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Example for りぃ and リィ

I'm confused about リィ. (That's big followed by little .)

Although this combination isn't part of the official orthography (as far as I know), it seems to be fairly common. I asked a Japanese friend, and she said it's pronounced similar to like English -ry, but I'm afraid I don't trust my ear enough to hear exactly what she means by that. I think I might do better with a more technical explanation. My guess is that it's something like /rji/, but I'm having trouble pronouncing that.

Here are my questions:

  1. How do I pronounce りぃ? Is it the same as a "normal" kana or pair of kana, like or リー?

  2. Is りぃ one mora or two? I think one is plausible, like りゃりゅりょ, but I also think two is plausible, like よぉ or ねぇ. (I hope I'm not wrong about these last two being two moras long!)

I made a list of similar kana pairs, just in case it made more sense to answer generally about all of them. (If it doesn't make sense, please ignore this list!)

イィキィギィシィジィチィニィヒィビィピィミィリィ

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I have sometimes seen ィ being used to denote /i/ + palatalisation, but I think it is more commonly just an alternative for a long vowel. –  Zhen Lin May 28 '13 at 16:31
    
In this particular case, is it possible that the わりぃ word could be a certain way to say わるい? If so, would this indicate some sort of a るい sound for the character that is speaking? ^^ –  summea May 28 '13 at 16:53
    
@summea Yeah, わりぃ for わるい is pretty common (in manga and such). I don't think that means リィ is pronounced ルイ though. –  snailboat May 28 '13 at 19:07
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From my experience, it's no different than リー as you mentioned. My name has a in it, although it has been incorrectly guessed to be an elongated sound by people who don't know me that well. As such, there have been occasions when my former Japanese teacher (older woman) and 事務員's have written it as both シー and シィ.

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Wow, talk about not being awake in the morning! I just updated my answer to more factual information about myself. –  istrasci May 29 '13 at 3:32
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The small kana are used for a variety of things. For instance, ャ is used to modify the sound of "ki" into "kya" (as in キャ). Additionally, small kana like ィ are used to represent sounds that are not part of standard Japanese, e.g. ウィ for "wi" and フィ for "fi". They are also used to elongate the sound of the previous mora, though this does not double the length of the sound as the ー does. This is sometimes used to represent sounds trailing off.

Used as in your picture above, the ィ is intended to approximate the long "y" sound at the end of some foreign names (specifically "-ry" at the end of "Winry"). Note that ー is also sometimes used for this purpose (you will find "Billy" spelled both as ビリィ and ビリー, for instance). I don't believe there is a hard rule, and ー is certainly enjoyes more popularity.

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In my opinion, it is pronounced as (Rii---) and then the coming characters next to it. It's pronunciation may change depending upon where it is attached.

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What do you mean when you say it is pronounced as (Rii---). What do the hyphens indicate? Just how long is the [i] sound? Can you give an example when the pronunciation changes, depending on "where it is attached"? –  Earthliŋ May 30 '13 at 5:32
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There is good reason why there is no entry in the ヤ行, イ列. As far as I can tell, Japanese phonology doesn't compress the [j] enough to distinguish [ji] and [i]. (Yin is called [印]{いん}, for example.)

So, the ィ is definitely a lengthening of the sound. Using the small kana (ぁぃぅぇぉ) over the 長音 (ー) or the tilde (~) makes it look like the lengthening is part of the word (るい has two morae, and so does リィ), and not an extending the vowel beyond the word (for emphasis, for example). The small kana also looks more appropriate for slang than lengthening with ー (or イ).

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