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I came across the sentence 混乱する気持ちもよーくわかる in my manga. I have translated it, but the use of the dash (which was vertical in the actual vertical text) stumped me for a bit (I thought it was よう at first, not よお). I was under the impression that a dash like that is only used in katakana, and in hirigana they use the character of the sound they want to extend. But that's not the case here.

So what does it mean when this happens? Is is a special case or exception, or is there some rule?

By the way, I ended up with よーくわかる all together meaning "I know you..." (thanks, Google Translate, for being more useful than a dictionary for once), which seems to be right in this context (In this case, "I know you're feeling confused"). That's why I think it might be a special case. (Searching よお on it's own ended up with "trouble brought on by sins of forebears"...)

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These are not dashes. Just like hyphens are not dashes. –  sawa Aug 12 '11 at 12:37
    
I did look briefly around for a name of the line symbol thing, but I settled on "dash" because people would know what I meant. I wasn't going to say "hyphen", because this was written vertically. –  AlbeyAmakiir Aug 13 '11 at 7:13
    
If you don't know what it is called, then you should better not call it by any name rather than making a mistake. –  sawa Aug 26 '11 at 6:27
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@sawa. That's a very sad thing to think. Mistakes can be very useful. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn (though, it technically wasn't a mistake, because I knew it was wrong). Besides, how would one refer to it without a name? Does there happen to be a name for it, in any case? –  AlbeyAmakiir Aug 28 '11 at 22:19
    
You could have just said the character between and , or 'something that looks like a dash', not dash. The name or this character is 長音符. –  sawa Aug 29 '11 at 2:46
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1 Answer 1

up vote 18 down vote accepted

In Katakana, we use ー for some long vowels indeed. But words with it, like ユーロ are spelt this way!

However, in your case, there is no such word よーく、 ようく nor よおく. What this dash means is that the sound is lengthened. The word is just "よく". So, when the author wrote "よーくわかる" he meant "I reaaaaally understand".

That's it!

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I agreeeeeed! On the same note, is it the same for the usage of ~ at the end of an exclamation, e.g. だめ~! –  Lukman Aug 12 '11 at 4:31
    
Ah, that makes more sense. I thought that didn't happen much in Japanese, because the fewer sounds make it more likely you'll bump into another word. But now that I think about it, you can work out which word from the context. Thanks. –  AlbeyAmakiir Aug 12 '11 at 4:41
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Sometimes authors will also use small vowel kana (ぁぃぅぇぉァィゥェォ) to indicate that the sound is being lengthened. –  sartak Aug 12 '11 at 5:46
    
Just to add. When something is written in hiragana, it follows the native Japanese phonological rules. Particularly, ou is pronounced oo, and ei is pronounced ee, so there is no need for the long-vowel symbol. Katakana does not have such rule, and you need to explicitly show the long vowel. Examples like よーく is seen often but is not the standard way of writing. –  sawa Aug 12 '11 at 12:42
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@AlbeyAmakiir: In sawa’s comment, oo and ee mean the オー and エー sounds, not the oo and ee sounds in English. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 14 '11 at 12:48
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