今時 [いまどき] – nowadays; recent(ly)

  • 今 [コン・いま] – now
  • 時 [ジ・とき] – time; hour

You might see this compound used in my personal favorite phrase that uses this compound: 今時の若者 [いまどきのわかもの] or “kids these days.”  You might even translate it as “these darn whippersnappers” if you really wanted.

So, why isn’t this word pronounced こんじ or even いまき?  As for the former, I’m not really sure.  I’m guessing it may be because it sounds too much like 今次 [こんじ], which also happens to mean something similar (present time; recent).  But, it’s not like a good homonym (or 30) has ever gotten in their way before.  So I’m not really sure.  I’m certain there’s some arcane rule of when to pronounce what how, but it eludes me.  I learned my Japanese the hard way: hear it, remember it, make mistakes, get laughed at, hear it again, try harder to remember, forget anyway.

But as for the second, it’s because of euphony.  Long, long ago, in a Japan far, far away, the folks who figured this stuff out decided that いまどき rolled off the tongue easier than いまとき.  (Give it a shot and see if you agree.)  You’ll see this a lot in the language.