I have noticed two different pronunciations for お column and related sounds (お, の, を).

For the first one, お is pronounced like aw as in always, の is like no as in British pronunciation of not (nawt).

For the second one, お is like oh, and よ is like yo as in Yo, what's up?

Are both of them corrent pronunciations?

  • 1
    Since we are talking about phonetics, it should be noted there is no singular "British pronunciation of not". In RP (Received Pronunciation) that vowel is actuated as an open-mid back rounded vowel or open back rounded vowel, but I am pretty sure in some parts of England, you'll hear the open back unrounded vowel in that word, which sounds closer to /a/. Also I am not sure what phone it is in your "yo" example.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


Those two sounds are not distinguished in Japanese. They are free allophones of the same phoneme /o/.

  • I am not very clear on the "two different pronunciations" that OP differentiates. That's why I wonder if your answer implies confirmation that OP's differentiation is valid and exists in other languages, though it may not exist in Japanese. (since phonemes and allophones are language-specific)
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 16:28
  • 1
    @EddieKal - I understood the first as referring to the open-mid back rounded vowel [ɔ] and the second as the close-mid back rounded vowel [o]. If the OP heard the first in Japanese, it must sometimes occur (for a speaker of Burmese, at least).
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 16:56
  • 1
    I ruled out the open back rounded vowel [ɒ] because Japanese /o/ rarely gets so open.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 17:02
  • Yes, the first is [ɔ] and the second one is [o]. Here I can only hear native japanese speakers saying not mu instead of no mu. Thanks for clarification. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 22:40
  • 1
    @HanMoeHtet - Openness is not the only difference between the vowels of the English words "not" and "no," though. The latter is a diphthong [ou]. In what Japanese words do you hear /o/ pronounced like that?
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 23:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .