う vs. お: Does it matter?


#21

They would still be pronounced the same.


#22

Hello! I think that it might matter due to the fact that the Kanji language is adapted Chinese letters into Japanese and so it might be easier to understand for people who have a stronger knowledge of Chinese!


#23

According to the Tofugu podcast (which includes native speakers, I think), they are pronounced identically.


#24

Hey, if you don’t care about being in some way illiterate, then it’s no problem. It’s akin to saying that it doesn’t matter if you learn how to spell English words correctly because ultimately spell-check will flag them, and then you’ll click the red-underlined thingy and it’ll give you the right spelling. Or Google will say, did you mean [correctly spelled word]?

And I’m not being as snarky as I sound. It’s really up to your allowances for mastering or not mastering the language. Personally, I know that there are many English words that I’ve never bothered to fully remember the correct spelling of (Wanikani has probably made me a better speller of English), so I’m not judging.

In my case, it’s important to me that I learn the correct hiragana for these kanji, and really, writing Japanese in hiragana is way easier to get right than English spelling, but you’ll have to decide for yourself.


#25

The pronunciation also varies between words.

王 = ō (long o)
思う = omo-u (two vowels)

I believe that generally the two vowel pronunciation occurs when the “o” and “u” are not from the same kanji.


#26

If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If I am “illiterate” in a way that is completely undetectable, and has zero effect on my ability to understand, or be understood, in either written or spoken Japanese, am I really illiterate?

I don’t think literacy is a binary thing; it’s a continuum. Even in my native English, there are lots of people who are more “literate” than I am–they have bigger vocabularies, have deeper understanding of grammatical rules, can craft more artful sentences, spell better, etc. I don’t think that makes me illiterate, even though these differences may actually be very apparent during communication (unlike my fudging oo vs. ou in Japanese).

To analogize to your English spelling example–if I couldn’t remember whether the word “weird” was spelled “weird” or “wierd,” I probably wouldn’t devote a ton of time to crafting mnemonics or reviewing flash cards to try to hammer it into my brain. I probably would rely on spell check for that (which would leave me in danger of looking silly if I ever had to handwrite it–a risk I don’t run with Japanese words that are written in kanji).


#27

My wife dunked on me as well as says they are pronounced the same. Guess I’m crazy here.


#28

I don’t really dispute anything you said. As I said, it’s obviously up to you. I’m probably biased because I grew up having my handwriting corrected in English, and that continues with my Japanese classes.

My only real counter argument to you is that overwhelmingly, おう is correct and おお words are few enough so that they’re easily memorized. Much easier to remember than じん vs にん, or transitive vs intransitive word pairs.

Ok, one more point is that you are perhaps underestimating the use of hiragana in written Japanese. I’d wager that if you spend much time in Japan absorbing the culture, you’ll soon learn which words use おお.

And yes, “illiterate” was probably a strong word. :wink:


#29

From the Cambridge Dictionary

illiterate
adjective UK ​
unable to read and write

If you do not know if something is spelled おう or おお in Japanese, the definition perfectly fits.
The same is valid for any other languages.

Sorry but orthography is not “a continuum”.


#30

Really? Am I illiterate in English if I don’t know how to spell “brobdingnagian”?

I didn’t say orthography was a continuum; I said literacy was.


#31

How common is the oo as opposed to the ou as one progresses. I try to learn the oo as exceptions, but that may became difficult if evens out at some point. In old romaji are both written with a line over the o?


#32

You can put “おお” into the search box on the WK dashboard.

Basically (for everything in WK) if it’s 大 and kunyomi it’s おお, then there is 多い (おおい) and 覆う (おおう) which probably doesn’t really count. (18 vocab in total.) It’s not too magical :slight_smile:

大人 (おとな) is an exception, but it’s an exception in every way possible.


#33

You’d need to search more than that. Things like とお and こお (and their rendaku’d versions) show up too.

It’s rarer than the onyomi sounds.

“Old romaji” isn’t a single type. There are many romanization systems and some still use macrons today.


#34

You’re right.

And a few variants, still not too overwhelming.


#35

So silly! Being unable to read and write is totally different to making spelling mistakes!


#36

Well, this is debatable, but, setting polemics aside, I am not attacking spelling mistake, I am against not wanting to learn the correct writing of words.