Edited by Kunio Nishiyama, Hideki Kishimoto and Edith Aldridge
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 250] 2018
► pp. 287–301
Chapter 13. The inexorable spread of 〈ou〉 in Romanized Japanese
When the Japanese government adopted new guidelines for representing words in kana (basically moraic phonograms) in 1946, a few mismatches between spelling and modern Tokyo pronunciation remained. One was using 〈う〉 (u) as the default representation for the second half of the long vowel /oH/ (/H/ = length). In official romanization, /ou/ is 〈ou〉 and /oH/ is 〈ō〉, 〈ô〉, or 〈oo〉, but the most popular romanization for /oH/ is now 〈ou〉, partly because most computer users input Japanese text by typing romanization that matches kana spelling. This paper will propose that kana spelling, abetted by romanized input, might induce future speakers to adopt /ou/ as the underlying form in many words that, for now, still have /oH/.