How to say the “I” sound in Japanese

Q: I have recently started learning how to read and write hirigana and katakana. However, I dot see any character for the sound “I” as in “I took out the trash.” The reason I am asking this is because I want to be able to write yes in Japanese, or “hi” as it sounds. – Huey

A:  Good question, Huey.  The answer is that the English “I” (eye) sound is actually made up of 2 sounds.  If you say it reaallly, reaaallllyyy slowly you’ll hear that for most accents it is actually made up of an “a” sound and an “i” sound.  (Just try saying those two together really quickly and you’ll see what I mean.)

So in Japanese, and in other languages like Italian, they write the “I” sound with the sounds for “a” and then “i”

i.e. “hai” =  “yes” – comes out as はい = “ha” and “i”

Does that make sense?

Be genki,

Richard

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