Just want to ask if this is normal or I am just fighting the wrong way.

かっこいい say this word has the final 2 which shall take 2 length of the i sound.

I am struggling to keep trying to speak with 2 length letter period. I think this is crucial to the meaning also to grow some sense of awareness about this.

Will this be ever a problem for local Japanese to learn to speak? I mean if with this type of word with 2 consecutive length of same sound, when you teach how to say word without knowing the spell, is it even detectable by the child or student? Is it some issue as well so you need to remind them that this needs to pay attention?

I am not sure if I need to use my head for this because it becomes such distraction as well. So it needs to become a habit for sure or sub-conscience coordination of my brain and my mouth.

Anyways, just wondering how local Japanese teach this kind of word to children.


2 Answers 2


I assume that you are asking whether native speakers can detect, as a child, whether a vowel is long (マーナ) or short (マナ). The answer is yes, infants can detect it by age 9.5 months according to the paper by Sato, Sogabe, Mazuka, "Discrimination of phonemic vowel length by Japanese infants" American Psychological Association, 2009

  • I was about to say "Japanese babies learn how to speak and how to distinguish い and いい simultaneously", but this might have been an understatement :)
    – naruto
    Dec 5, 2019 at 4:13
  • 3
    Speaking comes later because they need to learn to control their vocal tract. When my daughter was 5yo, I showed her a video of herself around age 1y, told her "see you couldn't speak then!" She said "no I was saying I'm hungry I'm hungry!" Indeed she was trying; I just couldn't decipher it at the time.
    – Ben
    Dec 5, 2019 at 6:10
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    My stepsister had great success teaching her pre-vocal children to use simple sign language. Signing for "I'm hungry" takes less coordination than saying "I'm hungry", same for "I pooped", "I'm thirsty", etc. Even babies are mentally capable of clear communication -- it's the vocalization that's the hard part. Dec 5, 2019 at 16:51

I wouldn't worry too much about it, the more you listen to Japanese the more it will naturally come to you. In any case, Long vowels are not something you'll be struggling with in the long run, eventually it will become natural, trying to force it often lead to awkward situation.

Just let the sounds come out a tiny bit longer when pronouncing long vowels.

One easy way to practice this is with かわいい & かわいくない



If you practice with those two remember that the I in かわいくない while heard is sharp like in all Japanese vowels, the moment you pronounce a vowels even slightly longer Japanese native will pick it up.

Good luck!

  • Right, they pick it up because their mother (usually mother) notices and reacts to it appropriately. If you're not in a Japanese language environment, it may be good to buy Japanese language children's books and CDs.
    – Ben
    Dec 16, 2019 at 22:15

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