Let's take the は ひ ふ へ ほ (ha hi hu/fu he ho) kana for example. When they get dakuten, they become ば び ぶ べ ぼ (ba bi bu be bo). The た ち つ て と (ta chi tsu te to) kana become だ ぢ づ で ど (da dji dzu de do).

Why this transformation happens. And, more important, why the ち (chi) & つ (tsu) are like this? They could have been ti, not chi and tu, not tsu. The ち & つ kana could also be categorized in the わ & ん category. If they were ti and tu, they could easily become di and du with dakuten.

So why does this happen? Why aren't they ti and tu instead of chi and tsu?


1 Answer 1


The (surprisingly) short answer is: In Japanese, the かな are not out of line. The romanizations that approximate these sounds as 'chi', 'tsu', 'dji', 'dzu', are the ones out of line, by virtue of the sounds not existing as an easily approximated two-letter consonant-vowel pair.

ta = た da = だ
ti = ち di = ぢ
tu = つ du = づ
te = て de = で
to = と do = ど

Basically, you really ought to be asking the question the OTHER way around: Why are ち ぢ つ づ romanized as 'chi' 'dji' 'tsu' 'dzu'? And in thinking about why that's the case, you'll have your answer. The order of かな actually makes a lot of sense in the 五十音{ごじゅうおん} order.


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