The vagueness of ō annoys me. Is there a rule to know how it works?

(In standard Japanese) it shouldn’t be. In that regard, it’s understandable to combine them. People seem to be misinterpreting the Japanese spelling as indicating a pronunciation difference when it’s just a historical fluke.

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Sure when I have a chance later.

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I have no doubt that there’s a dialect out there somewhere that pronounces it “u-o” just to be difficult.


I think it’s this too. When Japanese people have spelled words out to me, they’ll often say each syllable in the word, even if it isn’t actually pronounced exactly that way, for clarity. They’ll be like, 「お、と、う、さ、ん。おとーさん。」By which they’re just saying, "There’s an う in there, don’t forget to draw out the preceding お sound (from と).


Yeah same here my Japanese friends emphasize the う a little in speech and call me out if I don’t.

No I just confirmed with them. My length is proper they want me to emphasize the う more.

I don’t hear anything different from what you would get from おとおさん if the word were spelled that way.

The real fun part is when you have long vowels in proper nouns like Tokyo or Hokkaido, because then the long お isn’t even marked in romaji at all.

Dont you think these are just the english names for the cities, more than a phonetic transcription into our alphabet? I think Tokyo and とうきょう are two different names for the same city. Just like München as the german name and Munich as the english. Where as とうきょう in romaji would probably be tōkyō, but nobody really cares, because it’s such an insignificant difference.


In some cases they are the English names, but if you’re in Japan, you’ll see Osaka or Kobe on signs in romaji, but any Japanese person would still say Oosaka and Koube.


That just seems confusing, but why are there signs in romaji in japan? Surely not for japanese people?

Sometimes Japanese people like to use romaji over other ways of writing things, just for style.


Wow! I never knew this! This is so helpfull thanks :smiley:

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Actually, just for historical knowledge, Nihon-shiki romanization was originally created for Japanese people and its creator wanted it to replace kanji and kana as the writing system for Japanese.


It seems Japan did not share his vision.

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They do teach kunrei-shiki in 3rd grade. Most English speakers would find it more difficult to read than Hepburn, because it doesn’t prioritize English pronunciation the way Hepburn does.

For instance:
Hepburn: chōshi
Kunrei-shiki: tyôsi


Not his broader goal, no, but it did become the basis of Kunrei-shiki that Leebo mentioned. My first Japanese teacher when she would sometimes write in romaji would use Kunrei-shiki. There were lots of si, ti, etc.

Is kunrei-siki a replacement for nihonsiki? I like the ascii nature of nihonsiki; if I’m going to go through all the trouble of putting a carat (or macron) over a vowel letter, I may as well press sys + ' ' and type in kana. For the input of which I’ll use nihonsiki because it only uses two characters per kana for the most part, unlike the redundant h in shi and chi which add no info.

I’m a little unsure of what you mean, because nihon-shiki also uses a circumflex accent for long o’s. But yes, kunrei-shiki was based on it.

Mostly what you’re going to see is wapuro romaji. It’s not an official romaji system, but it’s basically (with some exceptions) what you’d type in romaji when you’re using an IME, and so that’s mostly what the internet uses when it writes romaji. Aside from anything else, it doesn’t use macrons at all, because they’re annoying to type.

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i can hear it too. its a slight rounding off instead of the same sound held longer. i feel like i’ve always heard it, right from when i started learning japanese which is why I wouldn’t mess up when spelling these words.
can’t one hear that difference quite clearly in おうむ (parrot) and おおきい?
in fact, i think i remember an exercise in Genki in the first few chapters where you were to listen to the pronunciation of the word and then fill in certain blanks in the spelt out word. i think that exercise required you to catch this difference…