Marking as correct when I miss the long う or お

Many words and kanji reading have a long う or お (お not as common but still). I am considering just marking these as correct when I get these wrong if I forget that it has or doesn’t have the extra う or お. An example would be 戸 where sometimes my brain will assume that the kanji reading is とう instead of just と.

Biggest reason for doing this is much of this time getting these right and wrong feels like it is slowing significant progress to catch these edge cases. It feels similar to the whole " I before E except after C except all these dozens of exceptions." I still goof up on that rule in English but would still considered myself to “know” the majority of those words, even if it means getting those words wrong once in a while.

I am mainly looking for strong arguments from people for why or why I should not mark these as correct majority of the time. Or a strong argument for middle ground somewhere in-between. Fire away!


Well, the pronunciation is different, and so people might not understand you if you’re not clear on how it’s pronounced. :woman_shrugging:


Umm… I’m not really sure if I understand your point correctly.

But if you mean “typo in how to read kanji in kana” should be mark as correct or something you could cheat and move on. I suggest do not ever consider that. You will never be able to type in Japanese on the computer because if you type in the wrong kana the Kanji you are trying to type in will never show up.

One more reason is. You will never pronouce Japanese correctly and nobody would understand you.


I know it’s tempting but don’t do it. You won’t be doing yourself any favors.


Lack of attention to vowel length is a hallmark of foreign accent in Japanese. It’s one of those things foreigners are stereotyped as getting wrong all the time. This isn’t merely a spelling convention, it represents a difference in pronunciation which could change the meaning of what you are saying.


Any tip on S and Z sound? さ ざ す ず etc.

I found it really difficult to notice the different let alone pronoucing them correctly.

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IIRC, you are not a native English speaker, right? It’s hard for me to give tips on that because they feel quite distinct to me.


Also, as has already been said, failing to use the proper vowel sound length can completely change the meaning of the word. One example from the top of my head:

おばあさん means grandmother
おばさん means aunt


Yeah I’m not an English native speaker. So I really struggle on videos that explain the different between these two sounds. The others are fine for me.

Perhaps it’s my native langauge quirk then. :neutral_face: Gonna try harder on these two.

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The best way I can think to explain it is that さ is more of an airy sound and ざ is more of a vibrating, buzzy sound.


That’s a very bad idea. Vowel length can completely change the meaning of many words. It’s a real part of the language, not some kind of extra frilly bit.


Removing the う and お can’t be compared to that rule, it’s like comparing it to removing all words that end in -e and just not writing or pronouncing those.

Doing things lik that seems a littl excessiv to m.

Trust me, after a few levels this is no longer an issue and you’ll be able to see them as distinct pronunciations. Just keep at it please.


(not to get too off track but) you can even touch your throat and feel that vibration.

Touching your throat while making a “p” sound and then a “b” sound, or an “k” sound and then a “g” sound, “s”/“z” etc. is how they taught us what voiced vs. unvoiced meant in linguistics 101, and that’s what a dakuten does, is voice things.
I don’t know if it helps to do that and then transfer that vibration to an s sound, but that’s what the difference is, whether it’s voiced or unvoiced.

(as for long/short vowels like the original question, it’s less like i before e, and more like death vs. deeth, beef vs. bef. It’s just a different word. Maybe give yourself some leeway once you’re used to the difference and are using SRS where you don’t have to type the word, but it’s not a good idea to go out of your way to avoid the difference)


Japanese, like many other (something like 25%, apparently) of the world’s languages, has phonemic (contrastive) vowel length, which means that the meaning of many words changes with vowel length.
<尾> vs. <王>, <お> vs. <おう>, /o/ vs. /o:/, ‘tail’ vs ‘king’. It is simply not possible to speak proper Japanese without distinguishing between the timings, just like it is not possible to speak Mandarin without distinguishing the tones (albeit to a lesser degree). In my native language, we distinguish between 5 tones and 2 vowel lengths (as is usual for these).

I read somewhere sometime (I really can’t remember) that in languages that distinguish vowel lengths, the longer vowel is about twice the length of the short vowel. I don’t know if this applies to all languages that make this distinction (honestly I don’t feel it’s likely), but it might be useful to keep in mind when you’re training yourself to recognize and produce a distinction.

also, I’d like to point out that vowel length/consonant voicing distinctions can be difficult for non-native speakers, just like any type of distinction, whether it be aspiration, nasalization, tones, whatever. Just keep at it.


Switching I and E in english isn’t quite the same as using the wrong vowel length in Japanese. Words in English aren’t spelled phonetically, but the Japanese writing system is phonetic. Instead of “height” and “hieght” in English, the difference is more like “height” and “hate.”


I was so confuse when I learn that a good amount of English words are pronounced differently from how they are written.

I have a friend who is a native speaker but grown up on a country side in Australia. He is still pronoucing some words incorrectly because he read a lot of book when he was a kid and he thought that how they are pronounced.

When I was studying a master degree. The majority of international studen pronounce those -cally word like basically as ba-sic-cal-ly. I still don’t understand until this day why they are written as something like basically not basicly lol.


An attention-grabbing vowel mistake along these lines that non-native English speakers sometimes make is “shit” vs “sheet”. It’s not just a vowel-length distinction, but it’s close enough that if your native language doesn’t have a strong /ɪ/ vs. /i/ distinction it’s an easy mistake to make.

Most of the time these kinds of vowel things just sound like an accent, but when someone asks you for a “shit of paper” it stands out.


proponents of phonetic spelling in english say that we should ‘spell things the way they’re pronounced’. The trouble is, with the enormous variety in dialectal pronunciation today, it’s basically impossible to do that in a way that satisfies everyone, so we’re stuck with this antiquated system.

also, with ‘shit’ vs ‘sheet’… if you only use the vowel-length distinction I would say 99% of english speakers would understand what you were talking about, but only using the lax vs tense distinction is more difficult to hear imo. maybe it’s just my dialect…


I blame romanisation that removes those long vowels, such as Oosaka written as Osaka.


Oh, interesting! For me the lax/tense distinction matters more than length for “shit”/“sheet.” Maybe that’s a US thing.

Wiktionary transcribes “sheet” as /ʃiːt/ for UK and /ʃit/ for US: sheet - Wiktionary. (And “shit” as /ʃɪt/ for both.) That suggests that in the US the distinction is entirely lax/tense, which is a bit surprising to me. To me it feels ilke there’s some length distinction. I also don’t really hear a difference in vowel lengths for “sheet” in the wikitionary pronunciations, so it doesn’t seem that consistent to me.

But yeah, to my (US-ish) ear, a long-lax /ʃɪːt/ is a stretched-out “shit”, and a short-tense /ʃit/ is a quick “sheet”.

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