Something that comes up again and again for me when shadowing native speakers is the having trouble with the ‘u’ sound. As in any of う, く, す, つ, etc.
To me, there seem to be two ways different ways speakers will pronounce the ‘u’. It’s hard to put in words (as all discussions about sound are) but one of them sounds sort of like ‘oof’. And the other … actually I can’t think of any sound in english that is similar to it. I honestly think the sound doesn’t exist in english. In germany we do have this sound (or at least almost that sound) and its ü. So that’s what I’ll refer to it for now.
An easier way to get across what I mean is audio of course. And I happen to come across a perfect video to demonstrate what I’m talking about here. Notice the difference in pronunciation of る when the whole word is said versus when each mora is said one at a time.
Another example: Here’s the word 来週 (らいしゅう) pronounced on forvo. The first four speakers seem to pronounce it as ü. Then the user skent pronounces it like u.
Has anyone else noticed this? From listening to native speech, I seem to hear ü more often than u. But then a lot of speakers do a sound that sort of in between, so it seems more like a spectrum to me. On wanikani the audio sounds mostly like ü to me. But there is native speaker I sometimes listen to on youtube and he very clearly pronounces it as u every time. Is it an accent/area thing? Is one considered more feminine/manly? (I seem to hear u mostly from men) How do you pronounce it?
Or am I taking crazy pills and there isn’t really a difference at all?