英語汁 / Eigo-jiru

Eigo-jiru【vol.4】 An unvoiced sound [s] from kid’s Katakana writing, etc.

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Blog 010. (English version)

Hello people.

It will probably sound awkward to hear this in such a modern age, 

but sitting down and facing the computer screen regularly

has finally become less painful event for me after six months of struggling

(or teaching an old dog new tricks ). 

( I had been stubbornly and foolishly rejecting to use modern technological utilities until I recently found out that doing this will only put yourself in a difficult position. )

And now that if I don’t touch a computer for a day at all, I’ve come to feel a sense of crisis… 

I guess it’s a good symptom …hopefully.

I also started using a Twitter about the end of the last year, so I now feel like that I have found myself a place in a group of modern humans. ( very proud! w )

Anyway, let’s get on with another English learning! 

Pronunciation of [s] / Okasuan & Otosuan ??

This time, I will pick up and focus on the pronunciation of [s], which difference can be found between Katakana ( Japanese alphabet used for loanword ) and English pronunciation in which I had discovered while I was checking the result of kids’ Katakana writing (self-dictation) practice. 


As always, let’s see the image of Katakana-writing which was done my daughter…

Can you recognise them?

From the left ( or from top, if you are with your mobile phone ), they are meant to be…

ソルト salt,

シード seed (豆),

サンライト sunlight…

Well, the next ones will be slightly advanced… w

( It took some time for me to figure them out! w )

How was it?

They were not straightforward, weren’t they?  w

They are…

ソヤビーン soya bean (大豆),  

サンセット sunset, 

セイディSadie (女の子の名前)

( I have mentioned about how “” is substituted for “” in “english juice vol.3 )

I bet some of you might be aware, but anyway what has been happening here is…


have been transformed into…


The reason why this has happened is because the pronunciation of [s] in English is voiceless consonant.

photo by Brett Jordan

The sound of [s] is just the noise of air passing through the teeth (created by positioning the tip of your tongue about the back of your lower teeth or the gum underneath its teeth, and let the air go outside the mouth.) 

Therefore, if you try to adapt this for Katakana-writing directly, 

it will be like adding the vowels


to the sound of voiceless consonant [s], hence the writing will be


which will be slightly differentiated from 


Incidentally, if you are to adapt [s] with English pronunciation to Katakana,

you don’t put u like Katakana’s [su] but it will be only [s].

While you keep air passing noise “soooooo”, you make Katakana’s “ウ“ shape with your lip at the same time, however you don’t vibrate your throat like when you pronounce consonant u.

Now, I will feature more of my daughter’s handwriting here. 

They are 

ソフト soft, 

サングラス sunglass,

シー sea.

One more thing to note here.

While pronunciation of Katakana’s “” is [shi], it will be “スィ“ [si] with English pronunciation.

The sound of sh ( presented as [ʃwith phonetic symbol ) is included in Katakana’s “”, and this is causing a headache for some people.

By the way, some of you might have heard the phrase of an old tongue twister,

“She sells seashells by the seashore”

photo by Croisy

If you follow the rule of Katakana-writing, it will be 

“シー セルズ シーシェルズ

バイ ザ シーショオ”

(It will sound like “She sells sheshells by the sheshore” in English)

So, if you follow what I have mentioned above, 

“she” and “shells” include sh・ [ʃ]therefore it’s OK with “”,

but “セルズ” should be written as “エルズ” and also “シー” should be written

as “スィー” (as my daughter wrote) because neither of them start with sh.

And regarding “seashore”, as you can now guess the “sea” should be written as

 “スィー”, and because the “shore” starts with sh, hence it needs to be written as

 “”.  Hence it will become “スィショオ”  

Now, ”オカスアン”& ”オトスアン”in the title of this section, 

derives from “オカアサン” and ” オトウサン” with normal Katakana-writing.

( Although they are not meant to be written in Katakana in the first place, because they are not loanwords. )

The wrong pronunciations which are subconsciously glued to Japanese people’s head, due to Katakana-writing.


There are well known troubles with English pronunciations which Japanese people often have such as the difference between “L” and “R”, whether to pronounce as [ɔː] or [əʊ] with the letter “O”, and so on…

But I will leave this matter for some other opportunities to work on, and instead, I am going to pick up some wrongly memorised words which are glued to our heads, because we grew up seeing these words with Katakana-writing everywhere.

In order to make things look obvious, I will feature them with only Katakana-writing, although I know that it won’t be absolutely right.

① マーガリン → マージェリン


It took some time to realise this because I was simply calling both “butter” and

“margarine” as butter for lazy reason…  

② ビニール → ヴァイニル


It was at the record shop I first time realised this pronunciation.

③ サピエンス → セイピウンス


Yuval Noah Harari, isn’t it?

④ シュールリアリズム → スゥリアリズム


We all must have learnt this with wrong pronunciation in an art class in the school.

 キャリア → クゥリア


The pronunciation we Japanese are applying for this word, is actually to be applied for the word “carrier”. 

I remember talking to my friend with the word “career” with wrong pronunciation in a sentence, and he had a face like “what the hell???”. w

⑥ ブザー → バザー


This is a strange one, because it is written fine with Katakana-writing when it’s just “buzz”, but when it becomes “buzzer” something must have gone wrong and wrong pronunciation has been kept till today… 

photo by Boris Smokrovic

⑦ ティラノサウルス → ティラノソウラス


This one is kind of understandable because of the selling of “saurus”.

⑧ シンナー → シナー


Double “n”.

⑨ リュックサック → ラックサック


It’s a mystery…

⑩ トンネル → タネル


Same as what is happening with “thinner”.

There must be lots more, but this it for now.

By the way, I thought that German footwear brand “Puma” could be one of these,

because I hear people pronouncing it as [pjúːmə] ”ピューマ“ in England, while we

Japanese pronounce as  [púːmə]  ”プーマ. But I later found out that it is actually

pronounced as [púːmə]  ”プーマwith American English…

Umm… things are complicated…

Today’s Q Bubble or Foam?

Japanese translation for these two words is both “Awa”.

Now that I don’t get confused, but I used to mix them up.

The things come up in my head when I hear the word “Awa” are…

 Sekken (soap)

Syabondama (soap bubble)

“Awa” from fizzy drinks 

“Awa” from detergent or washing-up liquid 

“Awa” (the top part of beer)

“Awa” that crabs produce…

Anyway, I have checked the definition of the “foam”, and it says…

“a mass of small bubbles formed on or in liquid, typically

by agitation or fermentation”.  

From Oxford dictionary

photo by Engin Akyurt

Hence, the white one on the top of beer is the “Foam

And each little one comes up from the bottom of the glass is the “Bubble”.

Well, it was simple… Everything is clear now, I guess…

Anyway, that’s it for this time. 

Thanks for reading through, and let’s keep it up!


👉 *Japanese version of this blog post