Is “A-MOng Us” or “A-MAng Us” the victor?

When I first learned Japanese, I was shocked that my name “Scott” didn’t turn into “Su-KA-tto” but instead “Su-KO-tto” due to Japanese pronunciation. I felt like the first one was much closer to how it sounds in English, so I was confused about the vowel change.

Of course, that was only the beginning. Then I learned that “ball” is “bōru” instead of “bāru,” “cup” is “koppu” instead of “kappu,” “button” is “botan” instead of “batan,” and my brain broke.

And now the strangely translated English-to-Japanese vowel sounds have found a new challenger: the game Among Us.

▼ You can see here how the game title is kept in English not only in the YouTube title,
but also on the game’s main screen as well, despite everything else being in Japanese.

One of the reasons the title is kept in English is because there’s a disagreement on how “among” should be pronounced in Japanese: a-MOn-gu or a-MAn-gu.

For those who think it’s a small difference that doesn’t really matter… I have bad news. We’re going for a deep, deep dive into this small difference that doesn’t really matter!

▼ For everyone else though, strap on your goggles because we’re jumping
into the nitty gritty of Japanese and English phonology.

The first thing we need to do is break down the actual English pronunciation of the word “among.” English spelling is notoriously silly, and nowhere is it more ridiculous than its vowels.

English has between 14 and 20 vowel sounds depending on the dialect. Just for an example, the letter “a” pronounced wildly different in words like “apple,” “comma,” “father,” and “face.”

Because of this, linguists use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to spell out …continue reading