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On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

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On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby Rakan » Thu 02.14.2008 7:19 pm

Hi all!

On'yomi or Kun'yomi? And if there are more variants, then which one? For me, this is probably the biggest obstacle in learning Japanese when not relying on the support of a native speaker. Too many times I'm not sure how to read certain combinations of kanji.

For example, I see sometimes in food-related contexts, the expression 夢料理. The last two kanji most certainly are pronounced "ryouri". But the first one (with the meaning of "dream")? Is "mu" (on'yomi) or "yume" (kun'yomi)? At the beginning I was ready to read it "yume", but a Google search gives mostly Chinese results, so I became very uncertain about this.

I'm sure that many others encountered similar problems, so I'd like to ask if you have found some possibilities to improve the reading proficiency in this sense (also it would be great if someone would know how to pronounce this particular expression).

ありがとう!
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RE: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 02.14.2008 7:26 pm

The only way is to look up anything you don't know how to read and remember the reading, and practice a lot. There's really no other tips than that; I assume you're good enough to know the basic stuff like "compounds usually use on-yomi". Personally I would read that as "yume ryouri" but either way you read it as long as you know the meaning that's OK.
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RE: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby richvh » Thu 02.14.2008 7:30 pm

My google search on "夢料理" "ゆめりょうり" vs. "夢料理" "むりょうり" gave results of 45-1 in favor of ゆめりょうり.
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RE: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby Rakan » Thu 02.14.2008 7:48 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
The only way is to look up anything you don't know how to read and remember the reading, and practice a lot. There's really no other tips than that


OK, thanks for the advice, it clarified some doubts, probably before I was wondering whether I am the only one who misses something there :)
But that's the language and we should take it as such.

Thanks also to richvh for the solution, it did not occur to me such a simple idea to put together in a search the kanji and the contending furigana. Obviously, it alleviates many uncertainties.
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RE: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby OitaFish » Thu 02.14.2008 8:41 pm

Even native Japanese have trouble with this. In my job, there are many technical terms that you can't just look up. More often than I would expect, they use the kun reading in compounds. I have asked people how they know that its the kun reading instead of the on reading and they have all told me that they just learn by listening to other people say the word.

Not very helpful if you don't know anyone that actually knows the pronunciation, hunh?
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RE: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby Rakan » Sat 02.16.2008 8:27 am

OitaFish wrote:
Even native Japanese have trouble with this. In my job, there are many technical terms that you can't just look up. More often than I would expect, they use the kun reading in compounds. I have asked people how they know that its the kun reading instead of the on reading and they have all told me that they just learn by listening to other people say the word.

Not very helpful if you don't know anyone that actually knows the pronunciation, hunh?


It's good to know, so in this sense it can be helpful, thanks...
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RE: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby keatonatron » Sat 02.16.2008 9:33 am

OitaFish wrote:
More often than I would expect, they use the kun reading in compounds.


I think that's because the Japanese readings are a lot more unique than the Chinese ones, which means even someone who doesn't know the word will be able to get the gist of what it means.

For example, 東 can either be read as ひがし or とう.

If you say ひがし, it can only mean 東, but とう could mean 当,党,等,頭,灯, or a plethora of other things. The reader can see the kanji and understand the meaning, but the listener can't see the kanji and so to eliminate confusion it works best to use the Japanese readings. (and if the reader doesn't know the reading, the listener probably won't either)
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Re: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby bamboo4 » Fri 02.29.2008 3:01 pm

There are, in Japan, two ways of reading kanji, one being 音読み(おんよみ - "on" reading) and the other being 訓読み(くんよみ - "kun" reading). This is markedly different from the kanji reading used in China, where kanji came from, in that there is basically only one way of reading one particular kanji and no other. On-yomi reading of kanji in Japan went through a number of phases, such as 呉音(ごおん)、漢音(かんおん) and 唐音(とうおん)through the history and they all stayed to form a potpourri of different kanji readings.

On top of that, our ancestors used kanji as a tool to express 大和言葉(やまとことば - yamato-kotoba, the original Japanese language which existed before kanji were imported from China). In 万葉仮名(まんにょうかな - manyou kana), the first crude attempts were made to transplant yamato-kotoba on phonetic basis, similar to romaji rendition of Japanese. However, it was not strictly sound basis, but some consideration was given to the meanings of kanji used. For example, 君之行 気長成奴 山多都禰 迎加將行 待爾可將待 would be read as きみがゆき けながくなりぬ やまたづね むかえかゆかむ まちにかまたむ (Since you've gone, I have become very patient. I will go up the mountains to welcome you and [in so doing] wait and wait). Later, instead of using the phonetic approach of まんにょうかな、which was very cumbersome as romaji is cumbersome in rendering Japanese, taking individual kanji and fitting the meaning of yamato-kotoba has become prevalent. In this manner 訓読み was born. In rendering おそれおののく (shaking through the body because of fear), for example, 恐れ戦く was used. おそれ was matched to 恐れ and おののく was matched to 戦く.

If anyone is interested, I am prepared to continue discussion of this subject.
Last edited by bamboo4 on Fri 03.07.2008 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby EvanT » Fri 02.29.2008 5:57 pm

By all means continue. I've read quite a bit on the subject, but its always nice to listen to a native' s point of view and the way they were taught the history of their own language at school.
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Re: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby bamboo4 » Fri 03.07.2008 2:15 pm

In the multiple kun-yomi reading department, there is one kanji that unquestionably is entitled to the seat of champion, outdistancing all other "also-ran" kanji in the race. That kanji is 生. It is simply not possible to recount all variations of kun-readings of 生 in this thread, but I will try at least to demonstrate some common and not-too-common examples.

生きる(いきる)= to live 生き生き(いきいき)= vigorous, lively 生き字引(いきじびき)= walking encyclopedia 生き写し(いきうつし)= a dead ringer
生まれる(うまれる)= to be born 生まれ合わせ(うまれあわせ)= to be born in the same generation 生まれ変わる(うまれかわる) = to be born again, to go through incarnation, to change one's character drastically 生まれたて(うまれたて) = newly born
生む(うむ) = to give birth to 生み落とす(うみおとす)= to give birth to 生み出す(うみだす)= to create anew 生みの親(うみのおや)= biological parent; founder; progenitor
生える(はえる) = to grow; to sprout 毛が生える(けがはえる) = hair grows 蒔かぬ種は生えぬ(まかぬたねははえぬ) = No mill, no meal. 毛生え薬(けはえぐすり) = hair restoring tonic 生え際(はえぎわ)= hairline

生(なま) = raw ; fresh; unprocessed; immature 生野菜(なまやさい) = fresh vegetables 生放送(なまほうそう) = live broadcast 生意気(なまいき) = impudent; rude
生る(なる) = to come into existence without human intervention; to bear fruits In these uses, kanji 成る(なる) is predominantly used. 生業(なりわい) = one's job
生(き) = pure; unprocessed 灘の生一本(なだのきいっぽん) = a famous trademark of Japanese sake produced in Kobe area. 生娘(きむすめ) = virgin girl 生絹(きぎぬ)= unprocessed silk cloth 生醤油(きじょうゆ) = soy bean sauce fresh out of the fermentation vat. 生糸(きいと) = unbleached bolts of silk. Related: 生粋(きっすい) = pure and unadulterated. 生粋の江戸っ子(きっすいのえどっこ) = born and grown up in Yedo.

Other uncommon readings of 生:  生活(たつき) 生月(いけずき) 生憎(あいにく) = unfortunately 生天目 or 生田目(なばため) = surnames 生け贄(いけにえ) = scapegoat 生飯(さば) Some place names: 生保内(おぼない); 生駒(いこま); 武生(たけふ); 福生(ふっさ);相生(あいおい);(生田(いくた)

In the next segment, I will brave myself to tread into the quagmire of the on-yomi and kun-yomi world.
Last edited by bamboo4 on Sun 03.09.2008 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On'yomi or Kun'yomi?

Postby bamboo4 » Sun 03.09.2008 3:44 am

Having covered the kanji 生 and amazingly diverse kun-yomi readings associated with it, let's move on to others:

初(はじめ)= first; beginning 初な(うぶな)= naive 初鰹(はつがつお) = first bonito fish for the year 初産(ういざん)= birth of the first child 初孫(ういまご)= the first grand child 出初式(でぞめしき)= ceremony to mark the first firemen training session for the year
暇(ひま)= 暇がない(I don't have time) 暇(いとま)= 数える暇がない(I can't give count of all that)
被る(こうむる)= 損害を被る(suffer damages) 被る(かむる)= 帽子を被る(put on a hat)
強か(したたか)= hard; tough 手強い(てごわい)= strong 強いる(しいる)= force; compel
愛でる(めでる)= praise 愛おしい(いとおしい)= find lovable 愛弟子(まなでし)= favorite pupil
端から(はなから)= from the beginning 口の端(くちのは) = rumor, 口の端に上る = it is rumored 端(はし)= edge 端(はた)= side, 道の端 = roadside
眩しい(まぶしい)= glittering 眩い(まばゆい)=glaring 目眩く(めくるめく)= dazzling; blinding
惚れる(ほれる)= to fall in love 自惚れ(うぬぼれ)= self-conceit 遊び惚ける(あそびほうける)= entertain oneself to the hilt
寝惚ける(ねぼける)= be half asleep 惚気(のろけ)= to brag about one's girl or wife 惚ける(とぼける)= play dumb
傍(そば)= closely by the side 傍ら(かたわら)= beside; in addition to 傍(はた)= nearby
傍目八目(おかめはちもく)= bystanders knows better (comes from "go" play, meaning those watching the game can read up to eight moves ahead of the players themselves).
翔ぶ(とぶ)= to fly 天翔る(あまかける)= fly through the sky  翔く(はばたく)= to beat wings as a bird
怯える(おびえる)= to be scared 怯む(ひるむ) = to hesitate; to chicken out
騙される(だまされる)= to get cheated 騙る(かたる) = impersonate; use false identity
貶す(けなす)= to speak badly of 貶める(おとしめる)= to look down upon; disdain
萎える(なえる)= to become withered 萎む(しぼむ)= deflate; shrivel; wilt 萎びる(しなびる)= shrivel; wilt
燻る(くすぶる)= smolder 燻銀の演技 (いぶしぎんのえんぎ)= a sedate but soul-evoking play
燻らす(くゆらす)= to smoke tobacco
澱みがない(よどみがない)= smooth and fluent 澱(おり)= dregs; sedimentation; the lees of wine cask
梳く(すく)= to straighten by combing 梳く(とく)and 梳る(くしけずる) read different but means the same thing as 梳く.
選ぶ(えらぶ)= to select 選る(よる)= to select
殺す(ころす)= to kill 殺める(あやめる)= to kill 殺ぐ(そぐ) = to reduce or shave off 殺陣(たて)= sword play scenes in stage play or movies

Your contributions for other examples are always welcome.
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