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Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

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Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby danvx6 » Wed 01.04.2006 5:23 pm

I've just started learning kanji a little while ago and I've been doing fine. But then I came across this! I was so surprised! WHY is 美味しい pronounced おいしい ??! My dictionary (JWPce) has no readings in the kanji info that can make this pronunciation. So this must be irregular or something. Are there any other common words like this that I should watch out for?
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby spank » Wed 01.04.2006 5:38 pm

hey man...

I know its a bummer because there are some irregular ones.
But think about the kanji meanings:
美 = beauty 味 = taste
beautiful taste...= delicious = oishii. that one is easy to remember B)
also, type "おいしい”、hit space bar, and you may get 美味しい depending on your computer's input method.

another one. 椅子=isu= chair
there's a whole bunch more that i can't remember. someone else will let you know i'm sure.
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby danvx6 » Wed 01.04.2006 5:54 pm

lol. Yeah the meanings make sense to me but the reading was bothering me because it seems completely random. I wonder if there are any other words that use those kanji with the same readings...?
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby Infidel » Wed 01.04.2006 6:30 pm

there are many kanji compounds with irregular readings. also, whatever reference you are using probably just lists the most common readings, not all of them.
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby Daisuke » Wed 01.04.2006 6:53 pm

Oishii is an easy one for making memorizing rules.. Some words are harder, but if you need some kind of rule, you will find a way. ;)
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby Gaijinian » Wed 01.04.2006 7:25 pm

美味い (umai)can also use the same kanji,,,:(
or 上手い (as in jouzu),,,

Those are imi based kanji combos.;)
The harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all.
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby amego » Fri 01.06.2006 2:09 pm

well i think 美味しい is an 当て字 (ateji) words that are assigned a kanji after the word has been around, in this case, oishii...anyway 美味 is a chinese word meaning delicious...another common ateji is sushi with the kanji 寿司 that is completely meaningless...:D
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby AJBryant » Fri 01.06.2006 2:21 pm

This is another example of why I tell people not to learn kanji (per se), but to learn WORDS.

YEah, it's an odd reading. Japanese is full of non-standard kanji use and readings. If you just learn the vocabulary as it comes, you'll be fine.

BTW, I don't recall the specific term for this (need more coffee...), but it's not ateji. Ateji is assigning kanji to a word based on their reading, not meaning. Hokkaido is full of places with ateji in their Ainu place names (the kanji equivalent of the American romaji use of place names like Penobscot and Kissimee).
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby amego » Sat 01.07.2006 12:12 pm

oh icic...thanx AJBryant...i learnt sth...anyway...i think that oishii exists for a long time and when e kanji came, they discovered the words 美味 in chinese that means delicious and decide to plug it in as they had done so for most words and verbs and stuff...:D
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby colind » Sat 01.07.2006 12:31 pm

With おいしい however, I was told it is actually incorrect to write as 美味しい even though you will see a lot of people write it this way. Possibly because the meaning of those kanji are good... so writing it 美味しい may be good for a shop sign/advertisment etc. A similar thing is with ください... some of you may have seen it written 下さい, this too like おいしい is technically incorrect. But you see it often because its shorter to write.
Hope this was as interesting as it was for me. And please correct me if I am wrong, but my Japanese teacher here in Japan told me that, and I think he's pretty reliable. :)
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby AJBryant » Sat 01.07.2006 1:59 pm

One thing I often like to do in cases like this is use Google to give me a rough estimation of usage. For example:

美味しい -- 3,330,000 hits
おいしい -- 4,180,000 hits
so these are fairly close in common usage. However:

下さい -- 24,500,000 hits
ください -- 60,400,000 hits
so the latter is more than double in likelihood of being encountered.

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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby danvx6 » Sat 01.07.2006 5:17 pm

Even though they are technically incorrect, they appear EVERYWHERE though. I think that sort of thing happens in all languages.
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby amego » Sat 01.07.2006 11:08 pm

yea...i think those words those words that are dripping with kanji are those in formal context, such as in shops and for 下さい, i often see it in instruction manuals and such...:D
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RE: Why is 美味しい pronounced おいしい?

Postby natemb » Sun 01.08.2006 3:53 am

A few more examples where kanji fit meaning but not pronunciation:

今日(きょう) - today
明日(あした) - tomorrow
昨日(きのう) - yesterday

I agree with AJ about learning by word. If you learn the words a kanji is used in (as you come across them in your vocab study), you quickly see which readings are most common and/or useful. If you try to memorize all the readings listed for every kanji you learn, you'll probably end up spending a lot of time on some pretty obscure readings and you'll still be missing the exceptions like these.
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