(Contributed by Takashi)
To be honest, I have not yet mastered the “short I” as of now. Particularly tricky situations are the time I have to say the words like “rich” and “Richard” and the time I begin a sentence with an “if.” I am secretly attributing my prolonged difficulty to the fact that I grew up with a Kansai accent. For I notice we Kansaians tend to pronounce the イ sound stronger – closer to the E sound – than those who speak with the standard Japanese accent. For example, we say, “Che-ga-u” to mean, “That’s not it.” The accent is on the first syllable. People in the Tokyo region say this as, “chi-Ga-u” with the accident on the second syllable.
The remedy that worked for me best was the method I mentioned earlier – the oral anesthesia method. Just in case you might be thinking – no, I did not go to the dentist to practice my short I. Instead, I just imagine myself having the numb mouth of after an oral anesthesia procedure. This was effective enough to allow me to relax my tongue and drop my jaw slightly to make a perfect “short I” sound.
Later, I came up with another method that was quite effective – to give my tongue a light bite. This reminds me of the awful pain when it happens by accident – that excruciating experience. What I can get as a result is the paralyzed mouth with a relaxed tongue and jaw – I am good to go.
So, that’s how I have learned to make my short I. For those who are struggling with it, just remember the last time you went to the dentist. You can do it! And for those who are lucky enough just to be amused by what I have been through and have been wondering, “What’s the deal with the way the Japanese pronounce “kiss,” “miss,” and “business” and so on, know the reason. Lastly, my name is タ-カ-シ. Don’t des it no matter how confusingly it might sound. Wait, let me bite my tongue. I mean, don’t dis my name. Later.