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about kanji

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about kanji

Postby wajdi » Fri 02.11.2011 4:40 pm

uhmm...i have been wondering if there were some rules about those added tentens or whatever they are called,you know like in volkano is kazan and not kasan ect..
i also how am i supposed to know whether this is 外 hoka or soto?
the last question would be are there also rules for kanjis like 火 to know if i am supposed to read it hi,ho or ka ?
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Re: about kanji

Postby Dustin » Fri 02.11.2011 6:24 pm

wajdi wrote:uhmm...i have been wondering if there were some rules about those added tentens or whatever they are called,you know like in volkano is kazan and not kasan ect..
i also how am i supposed to know whether this is 外 hoka or soto?
the last question would be are there also rules for kanjis like 火 to know if i am supposed to read it hi,ho or ka ?



For the most part the voiced / unvoiced counterparts are unrelated to each other most of the time. Since Japanese is phonetic, か or が is simply used depending on whether the ka sound is used or the ga sound.

There are times when it will change however, an example is counting minutes the word for minute is fun ふん 分  but can change to ぶん or ぷん depending on the number that precedes it. The key to these exceptions is simply memorization, and getting used to the usage.


As for Kanji, you have "on" readings and "kun" readings. Kun readings are the original japanese words that have been applied to the chinese characters. Usually a single character was applied to a word, so kun readings are usually used for single kanji words. ( on readings are typically shown in katakana while kun readings are generally shown in hiragana, when looking at a kanji dictionary for readings )

On readings are carried over from the Chinese with the Chinese characters. Typically these readings are typically used in compounds of 2 or more kanji. These were used to be able to create many new words in the Japanese language and still are.

There are exceptions to ALL of these, and all you can really do is get used to seeing the different forms of kanji. Though it may appear daunting at first, before you know it you won't be mixing up the readings because of context.

Memorize and use, memorize and use, it's the only way to get a good feel for the kanji and know which to use from context.

An example of this is the word bow in English. We know from context whether we mean the weapon, the ribbon shape, the gesture commonly used in japan, or the side of the ship. Some of these have slightly different pronunciations, and it's from use that we know which meaning and pronunciation to use.

Good luck in your studies, and don't let the kanji defeat you!
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Re: about kanji

Postby wajdi » Fri 02.11.2011 6:43 pm

so there really are no rules... cool! that means my kanji knowledge isn't lacking.
thanks Dustinさん :bow:
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Re: about kanji

Postby furrykef » Fri 02.11.2011 11:51 pm

This phenomenon is called "rendaku" (連濁). There is in fact one rule about it: Lyman's law. Lyman's law says that rendaku will not apply if there is a voiced obstruent anywhere after where the rendaku would apply. OK, but what's a voiced obstruent? Well, as far as Japanese is concerned, it's anything that takes the ゛ (dakuten) mark. Although characters like ぬ, ま, and ら have voiced consonants, they don't take the ゛ mark, which tells us that the consonants aren't obstruents.

For example, 人影 must be ひとかげ and not ひとがげ, because げ occurs after the か and has a dakuten. However, お絵描き could be おえがき because き has no dakuten. It isn't -- it's always read おえかき -- but there's no known law that says it couldn't be -がき.

So, as you see, Lyman's Law doesn't make rendaku predictable. You still have to memorize when you should and shouldn't use it (though at least sometimes the two forms are interchangeable). For instance, 中田 can be either なかた or なかだ, and you have no way of knowing which it is for a particular person without being told. Still, knowing some of the instances which can't take rendaku might help in the long run.

- Kef
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Also see my lang-8 journal, where you can help me practice Japanese (and Spanish, and Italian!)
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Re: about kanji

Postby NileCat » Sat 02.12.2011 11:01 am

Wow. I think Kef’s post is a fine specimen to show non-native speakers’ superiority at explaining something that native speakers only take it for granted without realizing there are (or are not) rules. Thanks for the great explanation!
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Re: about kanji

Postby furrykef » Sun 02.13.2011 3:05 am

Now if only I could actually speak the language... :lol:
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