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From what I've seen/learned so far, ー extends the sound from the previous kana.

Following this logic デート should be read deeto. Why is it pronounced deito?

  • 4
    Where did you see it? I have never encountered anyone who says deito... – user7048 Aug 30 '15 at 6:36
  • Here is a video which purpose is to show exactly this pronunciation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bfE_16t_LU. But again where did you heard it? – DFrogBinder Aug 30 '15 at 17:16
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Yes, デート should be read 【deeto】 as you mentioned, and it's actually read 【deeto】 commonly. (Note: The words enclosed in【 】 are ローマ字 in this answer.)

In 1950s, 「デイト」 was a new [外来語]{がいらいご}(word of foreign origin), and the written word 「デイト」 was popularly accepted as a young people's term in Japan, according to this blog post.

Nowadays many 外来語 are written in Japanese to match the actual pronunciation commonly used, which is Japanized pronunciation and not the pronunciation of original foreign words. Discussions and research about those have been posted on NHK放送文化研究所's official website, if you're interested in. I think 『外来語の発音・表記について〜用語の決定〜』 is very related, although there is no デート word example in it.

デート has been commonly pronounced デート, not デイト, and now, everyone(not only young people) uses the word デート (fortunately or unfortunately if they need to use the word in life). So,「デート」 is the official way to write the word, and of course, to say either. Most Japanese dictionaries have the entry of デート, but none of デイト.

If you see 「でいと」 as [読]{よ}みがな of デート somewhere, that でいと is a written Japanese word and usually pronounced でーと. Some written Japanese words are not pronounced literally, and this でいと or デイト is one of them, I guess.

If someone says 「デイト」 to mean デート now, it may sound retro because some people read デイト literally in 1950s or later, or it just may make the listeners simply think the speaker is familiar with English and the original word "date."

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The vowel sequence "ei" is often pronounced "ee". For example, many Japanese read 提案{ていあん} "teean".

I think most Japanese read デート "deeto" but some pronounce it "deito" because it came from an English word "date". Others easily recognize it デート. It might sound pedantic, though.

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I think the romanization of the Japanese may be a bit confusing here. So, the first character "デ" is pronounced much closer to "day" than to "dee". The hyphen just lengthens the "ay" part.

So, imagine if you say "day" in a really short, staccato type way. That's how I would normally say "デ" on it's own. "手" is pronounced identically but with a "t" instead of a "d". Now, if you imagine saying "day" in a slightly longer, lazier way, that is now "デー". Then, just tack "ト" (pronounced like "toe") on the end and you've got yourself a date!

If you were to change it to something like "デイト", now you're adding in a very small "i" (or "ee") sound to the end of "デ". So, it would end up getting pronounced something like "day-ee", only with both "day" and "ee" being short and staccato like.

So, "デイ" has more of a rising inflection on the end of it as opposed to "デー". Also, "デー" is pronounced for slightly longer than "デイ". The difference between the two is very small and hard to catch at first. For example, my name in Katakana is "デイビッド" but it could just as easily be "デービッド". The only difference is that the initial syllable is a little longer in the second version. Other than that, they sound nearly identical.

Now, why did the loan word "デート" end up as "デー" instead of "デイ"? Well, there's probably a genuine reason, but it's hard to know for sure.

Hope this helps!

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