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How to read 小火

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How to read 小火

Postby Cath » Thu 04.14.2011 9:05 am

Hi

I'm new at learning Japanese, but find it really fun! I always have loads of questions, and today I came across 小火 which means small fire? It is read しょうか based on the on reading for both kanjis. But then I found that ぼや also means small fire and is also written 小火 though the pronunciation doesn't mach the readings for the kanjis. Can someone please explain what the difference is between the two an why ぼやis written the way it is in kanji?

Cheers!
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby tuber97 » Thu 04.14.2011 10:11 am

I looked it up on Denshi Jisho (an awesome online Japanese dictionary) and it seems like the only difference is that ”ぼや” is a more commonly used reading than ”しょうか”. I haven't seen those readings for the kanji anywhere else, though. I'm not a native speaker, so maybe someone else can explain it in more detail.

Here's the link to Denshi Jisho (if you want it): http://jisho.org/
お前の魂をいただくよ。
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby Adriano » Thu 04.14.2011 1:22 pm

It's called Ateji, most of times tricking the most diligent japanese learners.
Personally, the most difficult part to learn in Japanese is place names.
I don't have any example to give you now, but the chances are great you will misread something written with the most basic kanjis you've learned a long time ago, like 田、木、原.
That's the reason I like chinese.
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby NileCat » Thu 04.14.2011 2:00 pm

In English, you use the same word “fire” for both the intentionally made fire and the accidentally occurred fire, right?
In Japanese, 火 means fire in general as well. But fire accidents such as burning houses are called 火事. But only 火 doesn’t mean 火事 in most cases.
So, “small fire” can be translated either 小さな火 or 小さな火事. The former can be a small fire of a candle or something. And the latter means a small fire accident. (Something like “only the kitchen was burned down and the rest of the house was fine”)

Originally:
ぼや=small fire <accident>
小火=しょうか=小さな火=small fire<in general>
The origin of the word ぼやis uncertain. There seem a couple of different theories. But somewhere down the line, they started to render it using the kanji 小火. Because…it was just handy. :)(It’s much shorter than “小さな火事”, isn’t it?)
Then, nowadays, 小火(ぼや)is very commonly used whereas 小火(しょうか)is seldom used. (For some reason, we call them 小さな火)

Yes, this is ateji.
Do you see the concept of this phrase? :
「本気と書いてマジと読む」(ほんきとかいてまじとよむ)
“Maji” is a slang based on the word “majime(真面目)” which also means serious.
I mean it! = 本気だよ!
ほんきだよ!= マジだよ!
Therefore: 本気(マジ)だよ! became “popular”.
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby Hyperworm » Thu 04.14.2011 3:01 pm

NileCat wrote:「本気と書いてマジと読む」

本気と書いて“マジ”と読め!

>_>;
Just reminded me that's all... :whistle:
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby Cath » Thu 04.14.2011 4:20 pm

Thank you!

This helped clarify things a bit, I hadn't heard about the ateji before. I'm really just a beginner, so I'm having a bit of trouble with the example phrases, but the concept is clear enough. Are ateji words rare or do you just have to learn them as you go along?

And thanks for the Denshi Jisho
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby chikara » Thu 04.14.2011 10:51 pm

TJPへようこそ  :wave:

Cath wrote:..... I hadn't heard about the ateji before ...

Neither ぼや nor しょうか as readings of 小火 are ateji though as they both mean "small fire" which is the meaning of 小=small + 火=fire.

Ateji is when kanji are used for their sound not their meaning so しょうか could only be ateji if 小火 meant something quite different to "small fire".

As NileCat-san has explained the origin of the reading ぼや is uncertain but, as ぼ is not an onyomi of 小 nor や and onyomi of 火, it isn't ateji. This is not withstanding that the meanings of the kanji are used which also excludes ateji.

Ateji is not the same as irregular kanji reading.

NileCat wrote:.... The origin of the word ぼやis uncertain. There seem a couple of different theories. But somewhere down the line, they started to render it using the kanji 小火. Because…it was just handy. :)(It’s much shorter than “小さな火事”, isn’t it?)
Then, nowadays, 小火(ぼや)is very commonly used whereas 小火(しょうか)is seldom used. (For some reason, we call them 小さな火)

Yes, this is ateji. .....
:?

I'm sorry, I don't see how that is ateji.

Cath wrote:..... Are ateji words rare or do you just have to learn them as you go along? ...

They are not that common although some such as 寿司 (すし) you will probably come across quite often. You do need to just learn them as you come across them. The use of katakana for loan words at least means that there are few new ateji.

Cath wrote:..... thanks for the Denshi Jisho

Denshi Jisho uses Jim Breen's WWWJDIC dictionaries which you can access directly from Jim Breen's WWWJDIC Online Japanese Dictionary Service. It is a matter of which interface you prefer.
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby blutorange » Fri 04.15.2011 3:49 am

chikara wrote:TJPへようこそ  :wave:
Neither ぼや nor しょうか as readings of 小火 are ateji though as they both mean "small fire" which is the meaning of 小=small + 火=fire.
I'm sorry, I don't see how that is ateji.

明鏡国語辞典 wrote:あて・じ【当て字(▼宛て字)】
《名》
⓵和語・外来語の書き表し方で、漢字の本来の意味には関係なく、その音読を借りてその語の表記に当てた漢字。借字(しゃくじ)
[…]
⓶和語・外来語で、漢字の音読には関係なく、意味が似ていることなどから、ある語を二字以上の漢字を使って完熟後の形(あるいは、それに準ずる形)で書き表したもの。和語の「のり」「いなか」「きのう」をそれぞれ「海苔」「田舎」「昨日」と、外来語の「ビール」「キセル」「マッチ」をそれぞれ「麦酒」「煙管」「燐寸」と書くなど。
[…]
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby NileCat » Fri 04.15.2011 5:30 am

@chikara
As blutorange showed above, the word “ateji” usually covers wider meanings. If you want to use more technically accurate term, it is 熟字訓(じゅくじくん). But we call it ateji because it is “意味に当てた漢字”. (although it is not “音に当てた漢字”)
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby chikara » Fri 04.15.2011 10:16 am

NileCat wrote:@chikara
As blutorange showed above, the word “ateji” usually covers wider meanings. If you want to use more technically accurate term, it is 熟字訓(じゅくじくん). But we call it ateji because it is “意味に当てた漢字”. (although it is not “音に当てた漢字”)

Ok thanks. :bow:

My understanding of the meaning of ateji was obviously too narrow.
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby jimbreen » Sat 04.16.2011 12:13 am

chikara wrote:
NileCat wrote:@chikara
As blutorange showed above, the word “ateji” usually covers wider meanings. If you want to use more technically accurate term, it is 熟字訓(じゅくじくん). But we call it ateji because it is “意味に当てた漢字”. (although it is not “音に当てた漢字”)

[...]

These days "ateji" is used fairly broadly, which I think is a pity. I prefer to keep a clear distinction between *real* ateji where the kanji are being used for the pronunciations, and 熟字訓/義訓 readings.
chikara wrote:My understanding of the meaning of ateji was obviously too narrow.


Well, I think it's correct according the original meaning of 当字.

In JMdict/EDICT I tag words as "ateji", e.g.

たらふく 《鱈腹(ateji)》 (adv) (uk) to one's heart's content

or "gikun" as in:

小豆 【あずき(gikun)】 (n) adzuki beans

If you look up 小火 in WWWJDIC you'll see:

小火 【ぼや(gikun)(P); しょうか】 (n) small fire

In a dictionary used by learners I think the distinction is important.

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Re: How to read 小火

Postby NileCat » Sat 04.16.2011 8:51 am

@jimbreen
I see what you want to say.
But, honestly, I’m kind of surprised to see the dictionary uses the Japanese term which is usually used for archaic writings. And believe it or not, overwhelming majority of average native people wouldn’t know the term. Also, if you really want to be accurate like linguists, 義訓 is different from 熟字訓. 義訓 is a personal/temporarily use of the irregular readings and it becomes 熟字訓 when it is established. So when we see some modern irregular kanji readings such as 本気(まじ), the linguistically accurate definition is that “it is a so-called 当て字 which can be assumed as a 熟字訓 that is considered to be a sort of 義訓”. 義訓 is a technical term and 当て字 is a word that ordinary people actually use it in their daily life. It is not true that it originally used to be used “accurately” as you claimed. So I’m afraid it’s pointless to compare those two at a same level.
I agree with your opinion that it would be helpful to distinguish the usages for learners. I think it is a very good idea that the dictionary categorizes the irregular readings clearly. But I didn’t like the way you quoted my post just to express your unreasonable “pity”.

EDITED
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby jimbreen » Sat 04.16.2011 9:26 am

NileCat wrote:@jimbreen
I see what you want to say.
But, honestly, I’m kind of surprised to see the dictionary uses the Japanese term which is usually used for archaic writings.


I agree. I should be using "jukujikun" or something like "sp-rd". Suggestions for a short meaningful tag are welcome. I may change them if I get the energy.

NileCat wrote:And believe it or not, overwhelming majority of average native people wouldn’t know the term.


I'm quite aware of that.
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby NileCat » Sat 04.16.2011 9:54 am

Oh, sorry! I didn’t realize you were the creator of the dictionary!
Please don’t get me wrong. I was not trying to say the dictionary is wrong. I don’t think you have to change the term in your dictionary. Let me explain in Japanese.
これはあくまで私見ですが、およそすべての熟字訓は古典分野で言うところの義訓から生じたものであり、それを【義訓】と簡潔に表記することは学術的にも誤りではないと考えます。また、英語で書かれた辞書の中で英語表記による[gikun]と日本語の「義訓」が完全に同質である必要もないと思われます。私が申し上げたかったのは、「それは義訓であって当て字ではない」という論調には同意しかねるということだけです。ご理解頂ければ幸いです。

NileCat


EDIT:
Until only a few decades ago, Japanese people were using 旧仮名遣い such as けふ(きょう) or てふてふ(ちょうちょう). The irregular readings of kaniji were not that odd concept for them. That’s why they didn’t have a strong demand to categorize them at their daily life level. I understand it would seem odd to you that we mix up the pronunciation-based readings and the meaning-based readings, however, it is the Japanese language.

EDIT2:
I know the (desperate) difficulty that many Japanese learners have to face.
a) 今日、学校へ行った。
b) 今日、学校へ通う子供たちの多くは幸福である。
In (a), it is kyou and it is konnichi in (b). I know it looks ridiculous.
But, for us, it’s much more difficult to “label” them.
If you ask a question to a native person like “(a) is jyukujikun, isn’t it?”, maybe you’ll just be glared at with a quizzical eye and they would say “it’s not that weird one. It’s just a normal reading. The exceptional reading is (b)”.

EDIT3:
So, throughout this discussion in this thread, I hope some people could grasp the interesting aspect of the ideographic characters. The concept itself is totally different from the phonographic writing system you are familiar with.
As Adriano said above, even though Japanese kanji was originally imported from China, it produced kana after that. And the fusion of ideograph and phonogram created a very unique writing system in the long history.
I personally think the good thing is the variety of the writing style. By the way you use kanji, you can express yourself in many ways. It is not only writing down the spoken language but you can convey some nuance by managing the kanji and kana characters.
A) 彼はもう行ったの?
B) ああ、もう逝ったよ。
A) 私を残して?彼は何も遺してくれなかった。
B) 天国に召された彼は、今、幸福(しあわせ)だと思うよ。
A) 遺体は?
B) 亡骸は明日火葬する。戒名は「昭雲院憧空弘秀光宙居士」
A) なんて読むの?
B) しょううんいんどうくうこうしゅうこうちゅうこじ
A) なに? それ? 日本語?
B) 「大空に憧れを持ち続けた立派な男性」って意味。
A) ・・・まったく意味がわからない・・・
B) いいんだよ、いつかわかる。

A) ええと、「しょううんいんどうくうこうしゅうこうちゅうこじ」・・・ねえ、ホントにこれ日本語なの?
B) そうだよ。漢字を見てご覧。
A) でも「こうちゅう」って何?
B) ああ、それはね、「ぴかちゅー」彼が好きだったから。
A) ぴかちゅー??? マンガ?そんなのありなの?
B) いいじゃないか、彼らしい名前だろう?
A) 「光宙」でぴかちゅーか・・・・でも、読みは「こうちゅう」?
B)そう、でないとお葬式の時に笑っちゃうだろ?
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Re: How to read 小火

Postby jimbreen » Mon 04.18.2011 7:18 am

Thank you for the explanation, NileCat.

Jim
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