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I've been studying Japanese through Duolingo and I wouldn't say I've progressed very far. I've learned some of the basics of Hiragana and it's beginning to transition into Kanji. While learning Hiragana I learned that House is pronounced Ie or いえ. When I began to transition into Kanji, I learned that no is pronounced Īe or いいえ with an elongated I syllable. When I translate House using Google Translate, a new character is presented: . I would assume this is correct, as the pronunciation sounds the same to me.


Are there a multitude of instances where this elongation of syllables occurs forming new words?

What is a good rule of thumb for remembering such differences?

Is it difficult to differentiate in rushed conversations?

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    Katsura Sunshine talks about that for a minute starting 2:19 in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=hbt0jAYDVOw – l'électeur Jan 22 at 17:40
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    My favorite examples include: kokyō "hometown" vs kōkyo "imperial palace", shōjo "girl" vs shojo "virgin", bottō-suru "to devote oneself" vs bōtto-suru "to be out of it". – naruto Jan 23 at 6:00
  • In the digital courses I have taken, the pronounciation of いいえ is rather clear: I hear like two "i", or said otherwise the double length of a normal "i", and I would spell it more "iie" than "ie": because it IS VERY long. Really long. – Stephane Rolland Jan 24 at 13:46
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Are there a multitude of instances where this elongation of syllables occurs forming new words?

Yes, there are thousands of word pairs whose only difference is the length of a vowel.

Is it difficult to differentiate in rushed conversations?

Apparently yes for learners, but no for native Japanese speakers. As a native speaker of Japanese, I never thought this was difficult to distinguish even in hasty speech.

What is a good rule of thumb for remembering such differences?

I doubt there is an easy way. You have to be aware how important this distinction is, and you have to familiarize yourself with the Japanese pronunciation system as early as possible. The Japanese language is mora-based. It may take time to understand and get used to it, but it's important. Once you've understood the general rule, this is no longer a big problem.

Seeing from the other side, native Japanese speakers have difficulty distinguishing the difference between the "r" consonant and the "l" consonant. For example, right and light sound identical to Japanese ears. Japanese students who failed to take it seriously at their initial stage of learning Engrish will actuarry keep making stlange sperring ellors rike this for many years. Learning a new language usually involves learning to recognize sounds that are not used or distinguished in your mother tongue.

Related:

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    Ages ago, my wife and I were living in Tokyo and paid a visit to the Ameyokochō market. A fellow had a small table arranged with bootleg CDs. I really wish I'd bought one -- guitar music by that well-known maestro of the modern guitar, Elic Crapton. 😆 – Eiríkr Útlendi Jan 24 at 17:29

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