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I'm sure the YouTuber Dogen's name would not be strange to a lot of people here on this site, and I'm sure a lot of you have seen his this video where he makes fun of words that sounds similar.

Specifically, if you watch the first minute of the video, you can see he makes a skit from the word 決行{けっこう} and 欠航{けっこう}, which mean completely opposite things in that context of a ferry ride.

My question is: is what he's showing a possible real-life situation? If not, why? Can people ever mishear 結構{けっこう} and 決行{けっこう} and 欠航{けっこう} since they could all make sense in the same context?

P.S. I know the pitch accent is slightly different but is that the only distinction between these words when spoken? Do you have to like draw kanji in the air to convey the right word sometimes?

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I haven't watched the whole video, but it is unlikely to happen.

  • 結構です sounds rather distinctly from 欠航/決行です
  • In the context of talking about the ship's operation, 平常運行です/{平常通り,予定通り}運行します will be used instead of 決行する, to mean that they function normally.
  • 決行, as explained in the related question in the comment, is used about events. The most timely example would be パンデミックにもかかわらずオリンピックは決行された : The Olympics were held in spite of the pandemic :)

Apart from 欠航/結構/決行, we rarely have such comedies of errors in reality. When we sense something is wrong in the conversation, we just confirm with each other.

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There is a famous comedian duo (one of them became quite notorious due to some affairs...) that make lots of comedies of that type. I found this, where the same type of (supposedly real) conversations are collected from twitter. (Not all of them are about 同音異義語, but several. E.g. 7 in the link gives a conversation where 声優 (voice actor) and 西友 (a supermarket) are confused).

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  • 2
    感染 and 観戦 have caused some confusion lately.
    – aguijonazo
    Aug 8 '21 at 12:54
  • @aguijonazo I'm guessing with the Olympics?
    – istrasci
    Aug 8 '21 at 21:23
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It's a good question.

Regarding pitch, my resource tells me that 結構, 欠航, and 決行 all have the same pitch accent, namely 平板. However @sundowner has said in their reply that they feel 結構です would sound different from the two others.

Regardless, in practice such confusion would only rarely occur. Context will resolve most potential confusions, and if someone isn't sure about something, they can always rephrase their question or ask the other person to rephrase their statement if clarification is needed.

Dogen's video is good, but it's really more comedy than an illustration of an issue you're likely to encounter.

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