When to add う

The hardest thing in reviews for me is remembering when there is a う after a こ or ご or きゅ, etc. For example, I might try じょうし instead of じょし and flunk that vocabulary item 女子 for the umpteenth time. I have a feeling that there are heuristics or guidelines, or at least a few hints that I’ve missed along the way. Any suggestions?

2 Likes

Before you learned the vocab 女子, you learned the kanji 女. And the reading that WK taught for kanji 女 is じょ, not じょう. C’est tout.

4 Likes

Maybe say each word out loud as you review it, and really exaggerate that long vowel sound (if it has long vowels)

3 Likes

I usually screw these long/short vowel things a few times too. I just let the srs work its magic (as in, I’d be doing these reviews a bunch of times before it finally sticks). Don’t beat yourself up, it gets easier as you learn more vocab associated with the kanji!

3 Likes

I remember this kind of thing used to be really tricky. But now they don’t even feel similar. With time it’ll sort itself out.

8 Likes

I usually imagine whatever is being used in the mnemonic as something long or short to remember if the sound is long or short. That doesn’t’ help with とお vs とう, though. Those I just remember with brute force.

Additionally, there are recurring mnemonics that are (mostly) consistent. Koichi is always with う。Jo-Anne is always without. So in my head, Koichi is really tall, Mrs. Chou too, and Jo-Anne is really short.

That makes it a little easier for me, but it’s still annoying.

2 Likes

Just remember that the おう is long. It’s a different pronunciation entirely, and you can get into some trouble later with words whose meanings differ depending on whether or not there’s a long or short vowel sound in there. This is also true of small っ words. You can’t skip that pause/glottal stop or it may end up sounding like a completely different word to a listener.

1 Like

If it’s kun’yomi (and not the end of a verb) then it’s usually おお instead of おう. Example: とおり, こおり, ほお

The only possible exception I can think of right now is おとうさん but I’m not sure if that’s actually kun’yomi. As for the other way, I can’t think of any on’yomi readings that use おお to extend the vowel.

3 Likes

とうさん and かあさん come from ととさん and かかさん originally. I’m not sure exactly how long ago those used to be used. I would imagine a pretty long time. Doesn’t really answer the spelling issue, but I thought it was interesting.

8 Likes

Cool, that’s good to know. Thanks!

1 Like

Not sure how much it will help to know this, but the long vowels with おう are Chinese-origin words and those with おお are Japanese origin words.

2 Likes

No way around it, man. No rules. You’ll have to fail over and over again until it sticks

1 Like

Unfortunately this is one those things where I have to say “you get used to it” and you’ll just have to trust it. Good news though, you get used to it pretty quickly. After hearing people speak normally, I think it became a lot more obvious for me. At least, so long as they aren’t speaking quickly because then I feel like long vowels cease to exist, but that will probably change with experience. Unless it doesn’t.

In the mnemonics, they use Jourm, a big strapping guy, for じょう and Jo, a petite lady, for じょ.

For しょ, I use the Shogun mnemonic that’s used for しょう, but picture him as a really short Shogun.

The same with しゅう, a regular shoe, and しゅ, a really tiny shoe.

2 Likes

Always tripped me up too until recently, but you’ll get used to it with time.

I try to remember mnemonics with long vowels as happening slowly and ones with short vowels as happening quickly. When the guy shoots you in 出, it happens so fast, it must be しゅつ. But if I’m rowing my rowboat away for a reading of りょう, I do it nice and slowly, not a care in the world…

1 Like

Nice idea! Thank you. -Ben

You meant *りょう

2 Likes

Yes I did! Thanks for catching that; I fixed it.

1 Like

Yeah, this is a difficulty.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.