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Most often お is pronounced [ō], however sometimes I hear an [ä] instead. It might be arbitrary, but it sounds so consistent to me, thus I ask, are there? And if so, what are they?

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    Perhaps you could give some examples of words where you hear different pronunciations. However, my guess is that whatever differences you hear are mere allophones. Also, if English is your native language, we round our "o"s and tack on a "w" at the end. I suspect this may be coloring your perception of what you hear in Japanese.
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 27 '17 at 0:19
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    Can you explain what you mean by the ō and ä symbols?
    – user1478
    Feb 15 '19 at 21:23
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ä with double dots isn't defined in the english language. What sound do you mean?

お is defined as having one pronunciation, like "Oh" in english. Any variant is regional, or related to accent.

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  • The 'ä' comes from the IPA, it's the 'o' in "tom".
    – Tirous
    Jul 26 '17 at 23:57
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    Japanese makes alot of sense. The only character with two pronunciations in hiragana is ha/wa は Jul 27 '17 at 0:14
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    The only character with two pronunciations in hiragana is ha/wa は -- もっとあるのでは・・・「へ」e/he とかね。。
    – Chocolate
    Jul 27 '17 at 0:19
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    @Tirous Generally speaking, in the modern language with modern spelling, を does not have different pronunciations--at least nothing like は or へ.
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 27 '17 at 0:25
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    @Tirous: "The 'ä' comes from the IPA..." No it doesn't; I think it is American "respelling" from a dictionary. Merrian-Webster says 'ä: cot or cart", which to most/all non-American speakers is mysterious, since these are two completely different vowels. (Trying to learn Japanese with American pronunciation is like trying to learn English in kana.) Jul 28 '17 at 5:48
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Japanese is extremely constant which makes it such an easy language to learn. Every sounds are pretty much fixed and never change.

There are some tiny exceptions like wo -> o, ha -> wa, he -> e and sometimes the ん followed by a vowel makes a weird sound, but never heard of a different pronunciation for お.

This stability in the sounds in Japanese is much appreciated, unlike the excruciating randomness of languages like English(like how "read" is pronounced completely differently in the past tense even though it is written the exact same way.)

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    I'm not sure I'd lump in を with は or へ. を essentially has one pronunciation in modern Japanese and modern orthography. However, は has two different pronunciations: "ha" and "wa"; also, へ has two different pronunciations: "he" and "e". When romanizing を we might write it as "wo", but the pronunciation is basically "o"; there isn't a distinct other pronunciation for を. Occasionally people think they hear を such as have a word final ん, but this is rather different from the situation with は and へ.
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 27 '17 at 0:29
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    @stack reader Japanese is 'such an easy language to learn'? That's a little controversial, I'd say.
    – kandyman
    Feb 16 '19 at 0:33
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I think this is a common misunderstanding. I too thought that there were two pronunciations of お, so I was very confused when people not only told me it was ONE sound but also gave me negative feedback when I asked.

This was hard for me to understand, but even tho お in words like 青(あお) practically has another sound, that is only because it is outward to say it as written. If you listen VERY closely to a native speaker saying 青い, you will hear a faint "oh" sound even tho it's not as clear as you would want to, it's just a bit lazy sometimes.

This is a huge trap for beginners in Japanese languish, so I think it's a shame that there is no info about this online.

I hope this clears up some things.

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