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On and Kun readings

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On and Kun readings

Postby Dark_Lite » Sat 04.23.2005 10:48 am

In the study of Kanji we of course come across these two different types of pronunciations for (almost) all of the characters. My question is this:

When exactly do you use On or Kun? From studying them a bit I'm guessing that Kun readings are used for verbs and On readings are generally used for nouns...

Am I correct?
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RE: On and Kun readings

Postby maikeru » Sun 04.24.2005 5:07 pm

'A Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese' says:

Typically, each Cinese character has two types of readings - on-yomi and kun-yomi. The on-yomi (on-reading i.e. Sino-Japanese reading) is a reading based on the Chinese pronounciation associated with each character, and reflects the fact that Chinese script was adopted from China the best part of 2000 years ago, when the Japanese themselced did not have a writing system. Contrasting with the on-yomi is the kun-yomi 9kun-reading i.e. native Japanese reading). In some cases, a given Chinese character has several on-readings, reflecting differsnt forms of underlying pronounciation. A given character may also more than one associated kun-reading. Context and absence of accompaning kana (okurigana) are tha pointers as to which reading is appropriate in the given case.

You are certainly right in saying that the 'kun' reading is used for verbs. It is also used a lot for other types of words e.g. nouns and adjectives. However, the kun reading is usually a whole word but the 'on' reading is often joined with other kanji to form compounds.

I think (and hope!) this is right
Last edited by maikeru on Sun 04.24.2005 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: On and Kun readings

Postby Dark_Lite » Sun 04.24.2005 5:51 pm

Ah, yes thanks.

So... for example:

社 means company. When being used as a noun by itself it is pronounced やしろ (<- Kun reading). When being used with other characters to form a compound word, the On reading is used... right?

I think I understand this now hehe :)
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RE: On and Kun readings

Postby battousai » Sun 04.24.2005 6:01 pm

Indeed, usually the rule of thumb is the kun reading is for the actual word that the kanji represents and the on reading is more often than not used when in conjunction with other kanji.

However, this is Japanese of course and it really isn't like that 100% of the time..or to be honest I'd say only about 60% of the time is it like that. There are examples of kanji where you will strictly use the kun and on readings for the specific uses. A la something like 食 will be た in 食べる and it will be しょく in 食事.
But there are also instances where there are more readings of one or the other. Such as 外 being そと、ほか、and はず for kun reading alone and げ and がい for on. And even though the first three can be used seperately or with a verb, you can then come across 外側 which is clearly a kanji combo but uses a kun reading. There are many instances of this for many kanji.

In the end it all comes down to knowing vocabulary..if you know the kanji then you know it. If not, you can take educated guesses by knowing the other readings of the kanji, but definitely don't follow any rule that if the kanji is in a particular spot it has to go by that reading.
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RE: On and Kun readings

Postby sakura_joshin » Sat 08.20.2005 3:03 pm

doumo arigato... I think I get it now.
BoA rocks! :D
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