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Why the “H” is pronounced Sh in some cases.

I notice native speakers frequently sound as if they are reading 「この人」 as 「このしと」. I am aware of instances where sounds are altered to make pronunciation more natural (e.g., 洗濯機 > せんたっき). Is this one of those instances, or is it perhaps dialectical?

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marked as duplicate by Dave Sep 12 '12 at 8:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

See this: Why the “H” is pronounced Sh in some cases." – Flaw Apr 26 '12 at 8:43
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Only have one small thing to add to Jesse's answer.

Even in Standard Japanese phonology, /h/ is pronounced differently in ひ than in, say, は, which makes it sound a lot closer to /sj/. How close the pronunciation is for individual speakers, as Jesse says, is dialectal, and even depends on the specific word.

Another factor may be that many speakers don't or hardly pronounce the /i/ sound in ひと. I feel that this makes it harder to hear the difference. For example, ひいて and しいて (where the vowels have to be pronounced) seem easier to distinguish than しく and ひく (where the vowel might not be pronounced as clearly).

Incidentally, one of the most common examples of the (opposite) phenomenon is 敷{し}く which many pronounce as ひく. Not sure if it goes the other way as well.

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It's dialectical, AFAIK mainly with people who grew up in the Kanto area (mainly Tokyo). Although, I thought it was more common with older people (but don't quote me on that). Next time you hear someone say it, ask them


Also, in the Kansai region you hear ひち instead of しち for the number 7, so there are other similar phenomenon in other regions. However, there are so many dialects it is impossible to say exactly, but in Kansai, I can be certain that I have never heard このしと.

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