So, I’m not crazy.
I was re-watching きみはペット (incidentally, one of my favorite Japanese dramas) and I confirmed a long-standing suspicion. A lot of Japanese people pronounce すみません as すいません.
For years I’ve thought my brain was somehow not computing the み sound correctly until I actually saw it spelled with い in a manga I was reading.
The general consensus from all the language forums I’ve combed through seems to be that すいません is a colloquial and more casual way of pronouncing すみません. The latter is always used when you’re being exceptionally apologetic (as opposed to simply trying to catch someone’s attention) and/or speaking formally to superior.
Probably because I don’t know the language that intimately, I’ve always assumed Japanese to be a really rigid language compared to Korean. There aren’t any complex pronunciation rules like in Korean, hiragana/katakana spelling is pretty much 100% phonetic, and verb conjugations are shockingly regular…. I guess that’s why this ‘mispronunciation’ surprised me so much.
I am getting to the point in Japanese where I’m finally starting to pick up on colloquialisms and slang, which is kind of cool. (The first bit of Japanese slang I picked up was the word 「ちょう」). At some point I should graduate from reading manga to actual novels so I don’t sound like a middle schooler the next time I’m in Japan.
On a related note, anime has been holding my attention far better than Korean dramas these days. (I couldn’t even make it past episode four of 마녀보감, the last drama I attempted to watch. Sigh.)
ReLIFE has been my favorite this season (definitely one of my favorites in the last couple years too). The story hits home–a 27-year old man, recently unemployed, gets the chance to participate in an experiment that lets him redo his senior year of high school. The webcomic is also available to read for free on comico! I know I’ve written a ton about webcomics/shows that I never actually finish (heh), but this one I can recommend wholeheartedly.