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Numbers

Postby espen180 » Sat 11.28.2009 8:06 am

Throughout my Japanese study, I have made it a point to use kanji as often as possible, and learn the kanji that go with the vacabulary. If often means a lot of kunyomi and onyomi practice. I noticed a slight quirk when it came to the number kanji. Normally, when a kanji stands by itself, it is read by the kunyomi, right? But when it comes to numbers, they are often read using the onymoi regardless. Like counting. 一、二、三。。。 is read いち、に、さん。。。 and not ひと、ふた、み。。。 for example.

When are the kunyomi for the number kanji used? The only instance I know is 一つ、二つ、三つ。。。(ひとつ、ふたつ、みっつ。。。)
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Re: Numbers

Postby NocturnalOcean » Sat 11.28.2009 8:10 am

You have them with days as well, a bit altered though.
But 1 and 2 you often see with kunyomi.
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Re: Numbers

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 11.28.2009 10:26 am

espen180 wrote:Normally, when a kanji stands by itself, it is read by the kunyomi, right?


That's a good general rule but there are a lot of exceptions, so expect to see stand-alone onyomi as well.
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Re: Numbers

Postby magamo » Sat 11.28.2009 10:49 am

Some kanji compounds and idiomatic phrases use ひと etc. as its ingredients such as 一安心 (ひとあんしん), 一味違う (ひとあじちがう), 一足先に (ひとあしさきに), 二つ返事 (ふたつへんじ) and ふたなり. Basically you need to learn them one-by-one the same way as you memorize other vocabulary words. But there are some very rough rules as to which reading you use such as:

"Kanji number + popular stand-alone noun -> the number takes kun-reading" e.g., 一 + 安心 = ひとあんしん, 一 + 苦労 = ひとくろう, and 一 + 区切り -> ひとくぎり, and

"Kanji number + ingredient that is not a word in itself-> the number takes on-reading" e.g., 一丸 (いちがん), 一眼 (いちがん), and 一目 (いちもく). Note that 丸, 眼 etc. can be a stand-alone noun, but these are not used as such in these compounds, i.e., 丸 can be read まる, which means "a circle." But 丸 as がん isn't a word per se. Actually 一丸 means "united" and has nothing to do with a circle in a literal sense.

As is the case with other rules in language, there are lots of exceptions. Also, these rules require you already know many words and can tell if ingredients are stand-alone words. So I guess they're not very useful or helpful in most cases.

But this kind of rule-based learning may work better when you're systematically learning a certain type of vocabulary such as counters, e.g., 一つ, 二つ, ..., 一匹, 二匹, ..., 一本, 二本, ... Here is my post about readings of numbers used with counters on RevTK:

http://forum.koohii.com/viewtopic.php?pid=64121#p64121

magamo on RevTK wrote:In general, you use ひと when the counter can be used as a word you're counting, and you say いち when the reading of the counter doesn't make sense as a word or means a different thing from what you're counting. For example, 皿 (さら) is a word meaning "dish," so you use ひと if you're counting the number of dishes. 一台 is いちだい because "台 (だい)" means "stand," "rest," "rack," etc and you're not counting those things; the counter is usually used for cars, computers and so on.

"いっ" is actually a modified version of いち. This kind of sound change is called 促音便 in Japanese grammar and very complicated, so I only give a rough rule here:

き, ち, り, ひ, く, つ, る, ふ (i.e., "k", "t", "r", "h" with "i" or "u") in the middle of words often become an obstruent "っ" similar to the consonant it precedes (i.e., a stop in the case of k, t and p but without the burst, and a fricative in the case of s) when it is followed by k, s, t, or h (p).

So 一本 is いっぽん because 本 (ほん) means a book, which is not what you're counting because this counter is used for pencils and whatnot, and ち is followed by ぽ. Similarly, 一回 is いっかい because 回 (かい) isn't a word in itself, and the counter begins with a "k" sound.

Of course, those rules have exceptions, but I guess it's better than nothing. Also, the 促音便 rule holds for any words, not only numbers and counters. For instance, 作曲 is pronounced さっきょく, not さくきょく (The first く in さくきょく is followed by き which belongs to the k-series, and hence it becomes っ so you say さっきょく).


Edit:

There are a few more useful rules when it comes to kanji number readings:

When you count seconds, for example, when you wait for ten seconds, you pronounce numbers as follows:

small -> larger order:

いち (一), に (二), さん (三), し (or less commonly よん) (四), ご (五), ろく (六), しち (or less commonly なな) (七), はち (八), きゅう (九), じゅう (十), じゅういち (十一), ...

reverse order:

じゅう, きゅう, はち, なな (never ever しち), ろく, ご, よん (never ever し), さん, に, いち.

You can change に, し, ご to にー, しー, ごー respectively to keep rhythm.

When you count the number of things with kun-reading numbers (for example 一つ, 二つ...):

ひとつ (一つ), ふたつ (二つ), みっつ (三つ), よっつ (四つ), いつつ (五つ), むっつ (六つ), ななつ (七つ), やっつ (八つ), ここのつ (九つ), とう (十).

The readings of 四, 4, 七, and 7 may appear random because they can take kun-reading even when surrounding numbers are all in on-reading. But there is a rule governing their readings too. In general you pronounce よん or なな when you see them as numbers rather than part of a word. For example, 五千四百七十一円 (or simply 5471円) is ごせん よんひゃく ななじゅう いち えん. But 四月 (or 4月) and 七月 (7月) are しがつ and しちがつ respectively because they're not numbers in the numerical sense.
Last edited by magamo on Sat 11.28.2009 12:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Numbers

Postby kurisuto » Sat 11.28.2009 11:28 am

Hi Magamo, and welcome to TJP ! (... ok, I'm a little late ; haven't come here since a little while and began lurking a couple of days ago, but now I'm back :))

magamo wrote:き, ち, り, ひ, く, つ, る, ふ (i.e., "k", "t", "r", "h" with "i" or "u") in the middle of words often become a glottal stop "っ" when it is followed by k, s, t, or h (p).


Just wanted to point out that it isn't really a glottal stop, but rather an obstruent similar to the consonant it precedes (i.e a stop in the case of k, t and p but without the burst, and a fricative in the case of s). Now, at the end of a word, it is indeed a glottal stop.
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Re: Numbers

Postby magamo » Sat 11.28.2009 11:36 am

@kurisuto
Thanks for your welcome and correction! I edited my posts here and on RevTK.
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Re: Numbers

Postby espen180 » Sat 11.28.2009 4:31 pm

Thank you for your help.

What is meant by a glottal stop? I frequently see small っ, ッ at the end of words, especially in onomatopoeia.
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Re: Numbers

Postby kurisuto » Sat 11.28.2009 7:20 pm

espen180 wrote:What is meant by a glottal stop? I frequently see small っ, ッ at the end of words, especially in onomatopoeia.


It's a sudden stop of the airflow caused by the closure of the glottis (the space between the vocal folds) with a subsequent release. It is a consonant, more specifically a "stop" just like [p] for instance, except that when pronouncing the latter, the airflow is stopped by the lips.

As you've noticed, it is often found in onomatopoeias, but it only has an "emotional value" (i.e it isn't a distinctive sound in the sense that there's no pair of words that are distinguished only by the occurence of the glottal stop).
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