The Kunrei-shiki standard (ISO 3602:1989; Documentation — Romanization of Japanese (kana script)) lists both よお/ヨオ and よう/ヨウ for yô, but in its Table 3b (Kana trigraphs representing palatalized long-vowel syllables), the yô-column contains only entries ending in -ょう/-ョウ

きょう  キョウ  kyô
しょう  ショウ  syô
ちょう  チョウ  tyô
にょう  ニョウ  nyô
ひょう  ヒョウ  hyô
みょう  ミョウ  myô
りょう  リョウ  ryô
ぎょう  ギョウ  gyô
じょう  ジョウ  zyô
ぢょう  ヂョウ  zyô
びょう  ビョウ  byô
ぴょう  ピョウ  pyô

but none ending in -ょお/-ョオ. Why? Are there perhaps no words which are spelled with the sequence ょお/ョオ?

As I don't know the answer, I wasn't sure which of the following two to use as the question title to mark the main question:

  • Are there words whose kana spelling contains the sequence ょお/ョオ within the same morpheme? What about よお/ヨオ, for that matter?
  • Why does the Kunrei-shiki standard (ISO 3602) contain no entries ending in -ょお/-ョオ in its yô-column?

As these two questions are related, answers to either will be appreciated.

  • 1
    There seem to be no words with ょお / ョオ within the same morpheme. There seem to be no words with ヨオ. There seem to be 2 words with よお within the same morpheme: よー/よう/よお (interjection and particle (empathetic version of よ)), verb 催{もよお}す (classical kana spelling: もよほす) (see also here).
    – Arfrever
    Commented Apr 29 at 14:39
  • 1
    Is it important that it appears in one morpheme? Sequences with きょ, しょ, etc. followed by お do occur in Sino-Japanese compounds (of multiple morphemes, by definition).
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:07
  • 1
    There is 女王. It would be considered one morpheme. Earlier, I was thinking of things like 削除 and 音 combined into 削除音.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:19
  • 1
    You can download JMdict / EDICT dictionary (here edict2u version which is in UTF-8 format), decompress it and run grep on it (e.g. 'grep ょお edict2u'). Sites like Jisho.org actually use (often older version of) this dictionary.
    – Arfrever
    Commented Apr 29 at 15:38
  • 1
    It can appear as an oldish transcription like ジョオジ (example) To me, the 2nd question seems "correct" and the reason is that in more standardized transcription today, it is simply not used.
    – sundowner
    Commented Apr 30 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


Are there words whose kana spelling contains the sequence ょお/ョオ within the same morpheme?

The number of such words is very small, but じょおう (女王, "queen") is a common word that has this sequence. Of course some may argue it can be divided into two morphemes, but in practice, this is recognized as one word and written without hyphens. You can find several similar words using the search function of an online dictionary.

I am not familiar with the purpose or position of ISO3602, but generally speaking, all romanization rules are far from perfect when it comes to long vowels and loanwords, and there are many edge cases.

ょお may also appear in the following cases, but these minor facts may be easily dismissed when forming a romanization standard.

  • ょお may appear in nonstandard spellings in eye dialects, textese, etc. For example, ちょうちょ (chôcho, butterfly) is sometimes intentionally written wrongly as ちょーちょ or ちょおちょ, just like English speakers write "thanks" as "thanx" or "night" as "nite".
  • Although very rare, a few names do contain this combination (for example, this person).
  • Re "You can find several similar words using the search function of an online dictionary.": As an experienced language learner, I have to say that dictionaries tend to contain too much stuff that is not part of the present-day standard language (which is what I normally care about). They also don't have direct frequency information, and words' "most common" spellings might very occasionally differ from the dictionary's presentation form. This is even truer for collaborative dictionaries (Jim Breen's effort may or may not be an exception – I can't judge). Commented Apr 29 at 16:02
  • @LoverofStructure Even so, it shouldn't be hard to find the word 女王 by yourself with a dictionary search...
    – naruto
    Commented Apr 29 at 16:15
  • As a learner, I can't judge or easily research whether it's commonly used or outdated/marginal. Commented Apr 29 at 16:18

The ょお sequence can occur in words like [女王]{じょおう}, [巨億]{きょおく}, [書屋]{しょおく}, etc. In all these cases, the お begins a new syllable and would take a second o (or ô if it's elongated), like joô, kyooku, shooku, etc.

The same can be said about syllable boundaries for words with the よお sequence, such as もよおす. Though I couldn't find official rules, I would be surprised if it was written moyôsu. It should be moyoosu.

  • Do you pronounce もよおす with short break between consecutive /o/ vowels, as opposed to single long /oː/ vowel?
    – Arfrever
    Commented Apr 29 at 16:14
  • @Arfrever - I pronounce it with one long /o/. But again I pronounce 女王 with one longer (three-mora-long) /o/ without a break when I don't have to be extra clear.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 29 at 16:31
  • @aguijonazo And what do people do when they do want to be extra clear? Commented Apr 29 at 17:05
  • 1
    @LoverofStructure - Stop the air before pronouncing お. It's not so clear as in "ah-oh" in English but you can tell the syllable boundary.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 29 at 22:11

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