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TO-fu or to-FU?
TO-fu 84%  84%  [ 72 ]
to-FU 12%  12%  [ 10 ]
DIE-ya... wait, wrong poll. 5%  5%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 86
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 Post subject: Re: TO-fu or to-FU? How do you pronounce it?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:35 am 
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I think I put more stress on the first syllable than the second, but I don't think either is unstressed fully. They're both long vowels though, so it carries a little more stress anyway.

Mars wrote:
I feel like I don't put an emphasis on either... Maybe because it (either is or just sounds like?) a Japanese word, it makes me feel like it should be said without emphasis?
Teeeechnically it's an English word borrowed from Japanese. Unless you're actively code-switching. I think it's part of the English language though, so it's an English word that sprung forth from a Japanese word.

The OED lists /ˈtəʊfuː/ as the predominant pronunciation, which is TOfu. Not that is in any way the "correct pronunciation", just the most common. It's first recorded use in English was as tôfu with a circumflex, which is probably there to show that the first vowel is long. The O seems to have lost its hat by 1905, although it's not italicised in that example either, so it could actually just be lazy typesetting as the other examples indicate it was still treated as a foreign word.

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 Post subject: Re: TO-fu or to-FU? How do you pronounce it?
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:41 am 
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japanese words do have emphasis and accent though. and if we're going to be technical, in Japanese the word "tofu" is almost always pronounced with only the smallest hint of the last vowel U unless you're making pronunciation videos or telling people how to spell things (and consequently sounding more like "toef")
when it's compounded in Japanese it's often said as "doef" (mapodoufu, kouyadoufu) and that's what we call it at home, just to be contrary and because probably we usually *are* actively code-switching most of the time [here's it's called queijo de soja, or soy cheese, which is so inaccurate it makes me want to cry, so we must do what we must do. for what it's worth, i think my mother says toFU like kung FU.]

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 Post subject: Re: TO-fu or to-FU? How do you pronounce it?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:28 am 
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Yes! Japanese has a pitch accent, doesn't it? Does it use stress accent as well? I a semester of Japanese lessons, but it didn't go in-depth with grammar or phonotactics or anything like that because that's rarely useful for beginners.

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 Post subject: Re: TO-fu or to-FU? How do you pronounce it?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:51 am 
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Toffoo, no emphasis. Is there an official way sanctioned by the Tofu Council?


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 Post subject: Re: TO-fu or to-FU? How do you pronounce it?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:15 am 
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Gulliver wrote:
Yes! Japanese has a pitch accent, doesn't it? Does it use stress accent as well? I a semester of Japanese lessons, but it didn't go in-depth with grammar or phonotactics or anything like that because that's rarely useful for beginners.

I am not 100% sure on my linguistics terminology because the last linguistics work I did was back in the stone age, but....
there is a pitch accent, but usually it's not a big deal. there are certain words that are exactly the same that have a different pitch accent where it's very clear:
kaki (oyster) and kaki (persimmon)
is the classic example.
[this is often frustrating because there are so many homophones in japanese that are completely the same in sound, and so people often don't expect there to be a difference. Also, there is no marker in the language to indicate rising or falling pitch, and i've never seen a text that used any sort of signs to demonstrate this- no way to express it makes it very difficult for people to talk about and/or teach.]
because this type of pitch accent isn't that common in "homophone" words (i put that in quotes because for a native it isn't a homophone, but for a non-native there's no way to tell by looking at the word; but of course the kanji are different so you can tell the meaning even if you butcher the pronunciation, so often it's glossed over in classes as being not worth wasting time on) it's something you don't usually even teach til you get to a really high level, students just pick up by imitation.
however, in pronouncing longer words you often hear learners imitate their own native accents (Hiroshima, for example- americans will say OOooOOoo, HIroSHIma; Brazilians will say ooOOoO hiROshMÁ; the Japanese way would be ooOOOOoo, hiROSHIma, rising and then falling, short last syllable vowel). This usually doesn't apply to/isn't obvious for shorter words, but instead is more relevant to 3-4 syllable words, where pitch accent almost always comes into play and almost always calls for a ooOOOOoo structure, especially in names of places and people.
This also is a separate issue from the longer vowel issue- "extra vowels"- the U in toufu, for example, are considered to be full extra syllables even though in normal speech the extra length is so tiny it's often hard to hear.

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 Post subject: Re: TO-fu or to-FU? How do you pronounce it?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:54 pm 
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I say TO-fu, when I try to say to-FU it sounds like I'm sneezing.

Also, apparently I'm in the minority of people who say TO-fulish.

I really love everyone's in-depth linguistic analyses, I have nothing to contribute to that but thanks to everyone who provided them!

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