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Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

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Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby clay » Tue 12.08.2009 10:43 am

I'm hoping someone with some martial arts background can help me here.

Is 四段 pronounced "yondan" or "yodan"?

I asked a contact at a martial arts magazine (highly recommended if you are interested in a scholarly look at Asian martial arts: http://www.journalofasianmartialarts.com/) and he sent me this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_%28rank%29

But it has this:
yondan (四段:よだん): fourth degree black belt


Which is completely unhelpful. :) The Japanese version of that page doesn't have the 読み方.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby spin13 » Tue 12.08.2009 11:44 am

I practice martial arts in Japan and I usually hear よんだん. I wouldn't be surprised if both were acceptable, though.

Edit: I possess great Google fu. Can you snatch this pebble from my hand?
Last edited by spin13 on Tue 12.08.2009 11:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby NocturnalOcean » Tue 12.08.2009 11:46 am

Looking through google, it seems even Japanese people aren't quite sure. But it seems both yodan and yondan are used.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 12.08.2009 2:41 pm

I am drawn towards よだん because in grammar, the 四段動詞 is よだんどうし.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby clay » Tue 12.08.2009 5:59 pm

Thank you!

spin13, I ran across that site this morning. The よ(ん)だん is what got me thinking it could go either way. But if you hear よんだん spoken in Japan, that is a point for yondan.

There is also 四段活用 yodan katsuyou, which is half a point for yodan.

Hmmm... Interesting.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby furrykef » Tue 12.08.2009 8:11 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:I am drawn towards よだん because in grammar, the 四段動詞 is よだんどうし.


I was going to say that, despite my very limited experience with Japanese, I instinctively thought よだん, but I didn't know why. Then I read this and realized it was why. :lol:

I would be inclined to stick with よだん because what should count is the counter itself; the context it's being used in shouldn't make a difference. But, of course, "shouldn't" doesn't always mean "doesn't". I'm sure lots of languages out there have words that change pronunciation or inflection depending on context even when they're etymologically the same word. (It happens in English: "I slew the dragon", vs. "The comedian slayed me with his jokes")
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby kurisuto » Tue 12.08.2009 9:16 pm

furrykef wrote:
Yudan Taiteki wrote:I am drawn towards よだん because in grammar, the 四段動詞 is よだんどうし.


I was going to say that, despite my very limited experience with Japanese, I instinctively thought よだん, but I didn't know why. Then I read this and realized it was why. :lol:

I would be inclined to stick with よだん because what should count is the counter itself; the context it's being used in shouldn't make a difference. But, of course, "shouldn't" doesn't always mean "doesn't". I'm sure lots of languages out there have words that change pronunciation or inflection depending on context even when they're etymologically the same word. (It happens in English: "I slew the dragon", vs. "The comedian slayed me with his jokes")


十分 = じゅうぶん, じっぷん, じゅっぷん.

Also it seems to me that 四 in these two 四段's are different ; in martial arts, it's an ordinal number whereas in grammar, it would rather be a cardinal one (or that's how I interpret it at least), so it wouldn't surprise me if there were different readings. Not to mention that these two words probably come from different periods (if I'm not mistaken, a lot of Japanese grammar terms come from the Meiji period and were coined by... this grammarian whose name I don't remember).
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby furrykef » Tue 12.08.2009 11:31 pm

kurisuto wrote:十分 = じゅうぶん, じっぷん, じゅっぷん.


Ah, of course. I knew it. >.>

To be fair, じゅうぶん is different in meaning than the other two, though; 分 isn't really functioning as a counter. And, to be honest, I don't even know what the difference between the other two is. ^^;

kurisuto wrote:Also it seems to me that 四 in these two 四段's are different ; in martial arts, it's an ordinal number whereas in grammar, it would rather be a cardinal one (or that's how I interpret it at least)


I think calling it an ordinal number in the case of martial arts is more of a convention than anything. I know the usual way to say it in English is "fourth dan", but I don't think "four dan" would be wrong. Compare "5th grade" versus "grade 5" in English -- the latter isn't particularly common, but it exists, and uses a cardinal number despite meaning exactly the same thing.

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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 12.08.2009 11:56 pm

furrykef wrote:
kurisuto wrote:十分 = じゅうぶん, じっぷん, じゅっぷん.


Ah, of course. I knew it. >.>

To be fair, じゅうぶん is different in meaning than the other two, though; 分 isn't really functioning as a counter.


In 十分の一(じゅうぶんのいち) it certainly is.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby furrykef » Wed 12.09.2009 1:33 am

Ah. I was thinking of the metaphorical sense of "enough". I didn't know it had other uses.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby kurisuto » Wed 12.09.2009 10:21 am

furrykef wrote:And, to be honest, I don't even know what the difference between the other two is. ^^;


According to this, じっぷん is the most "correct" one (maybe it would be more appropriate to say "regular"), and じゅっぷん was formed by analogy with other compounds where the reading of the first kanji is じゅつ (and where gemination occurs). Now, as you probably know, じゅっぷん is more common.

I think calling it an ordinal number in the case of martial arts is more of a convention than anything. I know the usual way to say it in English is "fourth dan", but I don't think "four dan" would be wrong. Compare "5th grade" versus "grade 5" in English -- the latter isn't particularly common, but it exists, and uses a cardinal number despite meaning exactly the same thing.

I understand your point, but since "5" in "grade 5" doesn't represent a quantity and seems to have the function of an ordinal number, I think we should consider it an ordinal number. It wouldn't function as an ordinal if, say, "1st grade" were "grade 3", "2nd grade" were "grade 5" and "3rd grade", "grade 1" (i.e in this case it would only be the names of the different grades), but it happens not to be the case.

In fact, it makes me think of what was said in the thread about adjectives used as adverbs ; "sure" instead of "surely" and "grade 5" instead of "fifth grade" look rather similar... just my opinion !

And now, a little counter-argument : one could say that "5" in "grade 5" is only a name too, based on the actual order of the grades (and as such, matches the ordinal numbers that would otherwise be used). That would seem reasonable too.

But in any case, 四 in the two 四段's are different, I think -- which doesn't necessarily mean they should behave differently, of course ; the point is that it would be more likely. Anyways, as spin13 and NocturnalOcean have said, both よん and よ appear to be acceptable.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby shin1ro » Thu 12.10.2009 11:51 am

Mmm...If you put 四 before a normal counter, it should be よん.
For instance, 4オングストローム should always be よん おんぐすとろーむ.

But as for 段, I accept both よだん and よんだん. I can't think of any reason but just by a custom or by my memory of how people say.

And I came across other examples of よ.
A counter 列 (column) allows よ as well as よん, i.e. both よれつ and よんれつ work perfectly.
(段 also means "row" if you ask me)

On the other hand, a counter 隅(角) allows only よ. 四隅(四角) is almost always pronounced as よすみ and never よんすみ. Probably 四隅(四角) is a popular idiom, or it's just a single word.
And 三隅(三角) should be みすみ, ...I guess rarely be さんすみ but both are acceptable. 三隅(三角) is not a perfect single word or less popular idiom (than 四隅).
Well, I think there are gray zones in some counters.
Maybe elderly people would say only よすみ and みすみ are correct, though.

On the contrary, 四方 always be read as しほう, never よんぽう. In all directions, all around. It's a perfect single word.

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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby magamo » Thu 12.10.2009 8:31 pm

shin1ro wrote:(Things about numbers and counters)

There is a general rule about it. I already posted it on TJP here:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=14009#p161303

Take a look at the quoted post. It's the general rule about when to use which pronunciation. よ is preferred when it's a ひと-counter, and you usually use よん for いち-counters. That's why 四隅 is よすみ; you're counting the number of すみ (隅), which is what the counter means as a stand-alone word. You say よさら (四皿) because さら is a stand-alone word that means the very thing you're counting while the more common pronunciation of 四台 is よんだい because you're not counting the number of stands. So usually よれつ is preferred for 四列, though よんれつ isn't wrong, especially when it sounds better because of rhythm, rhyme, etc.

As for 四段, it depends on what kind of thing you're talking about. If it's your level/rank of a traditional thing like shogi (将棋), it most likely follows the general rule, i.e., the pronunciation is よだん because you're counting だん (段). But it might be different in another field.
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby mandypandy275 » Tue 12.29.2009 12:41 am

Maybe its both youdan and yondan, just as it happens with nihon and nippon which are both correct readings of the sun and book kanji. :?:
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Re: Pronunciation of 四段 (karate level)

Postby furrykef » Tue 12.29.2009 6:45 am

Well, the notion of a "correct" reading can be pretty fuzzy in any case, just as correct usage in English can be fuzzy. Lately I've been poking through The Elements of Style, a famous book for how to tighten your (English-language) writing, and there's a whole chapter of "words and expressions commonly misused", many of which I don't feel are misuses at all. (I do still agree with most of them, though.) But then, the book goes back to 1918, and newer editions have been largely conservative in preserving Strunk's (and, later, White's) advice.

Similarly, often there is no authority on what is proper Japanese usage. As far as I know, Japan doesn't have an official language academy, and the Ministry of Education's advice on usage is exactly that: advice. Ultimately, the best you can do is just imitate the usage of educated speakers.

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