A Gripe and A Question

So, I’m in a TEFL program, and one of our projects was to teach your classmates some foreign language vocab, modeling a foreign language class (using English, with the exception of the new vocabulary). So… last week I taught a bunch of animal names in Japanese. And this week, some chick gets up and teaches animal names in Japanese (only about 3 of the same ones as me lolz) and mispronounces about half of them, leading me 1. to judge her severely, and 2. to question my own understanding of Japanese pronunciation and 3. make me think everyone was judging me for teaching them incorrect pronunciation a week before. Since I’ve always considered Japanese pronunciation fairly straight forward, but by no means do I consider myself fluent in Japanese, I’m a little bit like “what…” So, on top of that gripe, does anyone know of any dialects of Japanese or regional preferences that might lean towards more lax “U” sounds? Cause she pronounced the ぬ in 犬 like “nuhh,” in "nothing.” I’d like to confirm that my judgment is well-placed, and thereby continue being the horribly judgy person that I am, or if I’m wrong, I’d like to learn something that I didn’t know when I began this day.

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Check the pronunciation on this website:

Specifically for 犬:

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Nuh in nothing? Where are you from??


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You don’t say nuh-thing? Where are you from?


I was thinking more like nah-thing?

I’d say the first vowel sound in nothing is the same as in “uh”, like literally when-you-don’t-know-what-to-say “uh”

Hmm maybe yes. Can you explain this in terms of いぬ?


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The vowel sound in ぬ is like “oooh what a beautiful dog”

I’m not entirely sure if you’re being serious or just yanking my chain though >_>

EDIT: maybe the vowel sound in “moo” is a clear in text though.

Oooh?? Hmm maybe it’s just silly to discuss pronunciation in terms of English. Iih Nüh, what a beautiful dog?

Yes, ooh. Ooh ahh. “The crowd ooh’d and ahh’d” You know? I edited my post anyway.

And yes, this makes no sense to discuss it this way, but there was “nothing” confusing to me about the initial example.

Something like /nʌ/ which is also the same vowel sound in “gut”. While う is /ɯ/ so in other words, it’s definitely not right.

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Thanks for chiming in, guys. I guess a better example (and closer to the actual pronunciation in question) would be to say she pronounced 犬 like “enough” without the gh. I just had never heard any Japanese speaker ever use /ʌ/ in any context, and it doesn’t show up on Japanese vowel charts. Also, she hadn’t studied Japanese, but just learned the words for the class, so I was probs just offended for no reason. But I think you’re right that maybe it’s silly to discuss pronunciation in terms of English because vowels are weird and inconsistent. Enough said, I know nothing about 犬…

I was told that:


rhymes with:

“Ah, we soon get old.”


This is adorable, and now I’m on youtube watching a bunch of these videos, so thanks for that


The う sound is close. But in Japanese it is technically a Close Back Compressed Vowel which does not actually exist in English, and in fact only exists in a few languages.

Look up “Sa Shi Su Se So” and you can hear each vowel easily. It’s a Japanese mnemonic used to remember the order of ingredients in cooking. Satou/Sake (Sugar/Sake), Shio (Salt), Su (Vinegar), Seuyu (Old word for Japanese, now Shoyu), So (Miso). While you could technically do this for any of the Hiragana lines, I like that one since it has a second purpose. :slight_smile: Regardless of how technically you want to get about the “proper” pronunciation, the female you mentioned pronounced it completely wrong! At the very least, I’ve never heard that alteration. You sometimes hear in songs “e” turn into “a” or “o” turn into “u” when the note is held out for a long time, but Japanese doesn’t use the vowel sound in “enough.” The closest I’ve heard to it would be a very guttural “Ossu” from male students.

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