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kun and oyomi

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kun and oyomi

Postby appleraja » Fri 11.11.2005 12:12 pm

hey why are their 2 ways of pronounciation kun and oyomi for kanji? i heard one is like chinese? i dont get it so does that mean they kno the chineese pronounciation for kanji too? also why have 2 kanji? example ichi and hitotsu isnt 1 trans good enough?
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby mandolin » Fri 11.11.2005 3:14 pm

There's plenty of articles on the 'net about why on-yomi and kun-yomi exist.

It boils down to:
China had their characters, and pronounciations for them.
Japan imported the characters and pronounciations.
Japan already had words of their own for some things, and wanted to use kanji.
They used japanese pronounciation, and started to use kanji with them.
Sometimes, they still use the chinese pronounciation.

I'll answer the part about "why have two pronounciations" and "isn't 1 good enough" when you can explain why we have:
one apple
a single apple
a solitary apple
a lone apple

or

many apples
an abundance of apples
a lot of apples
a plethora of apples

or

As for counting things... we have
one, two, three AND
once, twice, thrice

Why?

The reason isn't really important in the end. The fact is that languages are deep, and frequently have multiple words that mean essentially the same thing with different nuances.
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby appleraja » Fri 11.11.2005 4:13 pm

since hitotsu is the onyumi i think? doesnt that mean it is chinese pronounciation? i asked my chiense friend and they said hitotsu isnt chiense
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby InsanityRanch » Fri 11.11.2005 4:36 pm

Please try to check things before posting here (or, I might suggest, before asking your friends either.) Which is an on-reading and which is a kun-reading is quite confusing at first, but it's printed right there next to the kanji in whatever text or website you're using.

Hitotsu (all the --tsu numbers) are Japanese. They are kun readings.

Ichi,ni,san,shi... are the Chinese numbers (on-reading).

I have no idea whether ichi,ni,san sound like modern Chinese numbers. Remember, Japanese borrowed these characters and their associated pronunciations centuries ago, then altered them to fit within Japanese pronunciation patterns.

I do know that hitotsu, futatsu and so on are uniquely Japanese -- the similarities between doubled numbers is one of the markers that makes many linguists think Japanese is an orphan language with no surviving close relatives.
"Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself." -- Vilfredo Pareto
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby richvh » Fri 11.11.2005 4:39 pm

No, ichi is the onyumi and hitotsu is the kunyomi.
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby appleraja » Fri 11.11.2005 10:44 pm

so is the on reading chinese? so thats how chinese speak? if japanese people kno both kun and on wouldnt it mean they kno chinese and japanese?
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby mandolin » Fri 11.11.2005 10:59 pm

As Insanity Ranch said, they imported the characters and readings centuries ago. Modern chinese probably sounds considerably different than Chinese did back then.

Also, Chinese has many MORE kanji (or hanzi, as it is romanized for China, I am told) than Japanese does.

And finally, Chinese is a tonic language that has 5 distinct tones, vs the 2 tones (high and low) in japanese. When Japanese imported pronounciation, they only imported the phonetic sounds, not all the tones that came with it.

This is part of the reason that there are so many homophones (words that sound exactly the same, with completely different meanings) in Japanese. In Chinese, they DON'T sound exactly the same, and the 5 tones are extremely important.
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby nprz » Sat 11.12.2005 12:47 am

Just because you can find some hanzi that sound similar to kanji doesn't mean you can speak both Chinese and Japanese. The languages are completely different, even the grammar. My kanji book lists the Chinese reading as well and it often doesn't match up with any of the on-yomi. Also some kanji have a number of on-yomi associated with it while most of the time Chinese hanzi only have 1 reading.
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby Infidel » Sat 11.12.2005 1:07 am

ON reading is how the Japanese ear heard the Chinese word based on the era it was incorporated and the particular dialect it originated from. Then some words migrated back to China, were modified then reintroduced back to Japan and modified again.

This is my DBZ example. The artist want's to name a character vegetable after the American word. It is Japanized into Vegita. Now any Japanese person will tell you Vegita is an American word and any American will tell you Vegita is not. The same principles apply to kanji.
Last edited by Infidel on Sat 11.12.2005 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby InsanityRanch » Sat 11.12.2005 9:36 am

ishnar wrote:
ON reading is how the Japanese ear heard the Chinese word based on the era it was incorporated and the particular dialect it originated from. Then some words migrated back to China, were modified then reintroduced back to Japan and modified again.

This is my DBZ example. The artist want's to name a character vegetable after the American word. It is Japanized into Vegita. Now any Japanese person will tell you Vegita is an American word and any American will tell you Vegita is not. The same principles apply to kanji.


I'm not sure where you got the information about words migrating back to China. For the most part, I don't think that happened. China, after all, was a large, culturally and technologically advanced empire and Japan pretty much a backwater during the six centuries or so during which kanji flowed into Japan. I think it was pretty much a one-way flow.

If you know of any backflow of kanji, let me know, but as I say, I'm inclined to have doubts.

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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby netarou » Sat 11.12.2005 1:25 pm

Chinese language has more than 10,000 words which were made by the Japanese(和製漢語).
The Japanese made so many 漢語 (On-reading words) in Meiji era to translate books written in European languages into Japanese language in order to complete the industrial revolution and catch up on European powers.
After a while the Chinese translated books written in Japanese, which were translated from European languages, into Chinese in order to catch up on European powers and repel them.
It was much easier for the Chinese to translate Japanese than to translate directly from European languages into Chinese.
Thus, Chinese led to have a large number of 和製漢語.
Modern Chinese doesn't do without 和製漢語.

Examples of 和製漢語:
Kanji Kana Pinyin English
人民 じんみん ren2min2 people
共和国 きょうわこく gong4he2guo2 republic
共産主義 きょうさんしゅぎ gong4chan3zhu2yi4 communism
社会主義 しゃかいしゅぎ she4hui4zhu3yi4 socialism
唯物論 ゆいぶつろん wei2wu4lun4 materialism
進化 しんか jin4hua4 evolution
階級 かいきゅう jie1ji2 class
労働 ろうどう lao2dong4 work
右翼 うよく you4yi4 right wing
左翼 さよく zuo3yi4 left wing
生産 せいさん sheng1chan3 industrials
演説 えんぜつ yan3shuo1 speech
革命 かくめい ge2ming4 revolution
自由 じゆう zi4you2 freedom
経済 けいざい jing1ji4 economy
電話 でんわ dian4hua4 telephone
数学 すうがく shu4xue2 mathematics
幹部 かんぶ gan4bu4 staff
芸術 げいじゅつ yi4shu4 art
医学 いがく yi1xue2 medicine
交流 こうりゅう jiao1liu2 interaction
否定 ひてい fou3ding4 denial
肯定 こうてい ken3ding4 affirmation
仮説 かせつ jia3shuo1 hypothesis
供給 きょうきゅう gong1ji3 supply
法律 ほうりつ fa3lü4 law
倶楽部 クラブ ju4le4bu4 club

[url]http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/和製漢語[/url]
[url]http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/日製漢語[/url]
Last edited by netarou on Sat 11.12.2005 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: kun and oyomi

Postby InsanityRanch » Sat 11.12.2005 3:00 pm

Thanks to netarousan for pointing out my error, and apologies to Ishnar for correcting her incorrectly!

And may I add, WOW! That is SO cool! (I love finding out stuff like this.)

Shira
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