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Kanji pronounciation and reading

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Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby Wolfie » Sun 07.03.2005 5:30 pm

Lately i've been studying hard on Kanji, and I guess i'm doing alright, since I memorized about 40 of the 4 kyuu kanji, however, when it comes to prounounciation and readings, I get very confused...I don't know how to prounounce them when I see them on paper or how to pronounce them while I speak. Like when I see the kanji for 火...I never know whether to pronounce it "hi" or "ka" >_<;; My grandma (who is a native speaker from Japan) told me it is pronounce Ka when read, but i'm still confused...@.@ I just know that 火 means "fire".
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby clay » Sun 07.03.2005 6:27 pm

Yes, this is difficult at first.

The good news is later kanji usually only have one or two pronunciations.

ひ is the kun (native Japanese) reading and カ is the on (stolen from China reading) reading.

Normally the Japanese reading (kun) is more than one syllable but the On reading is almost always one syllable. This helps distinguish them. Also normally (but not always) double kanji (jukugo) use the on (chinese) readings. But take the jukugo for 'fireworks': 花火 this is pronounced with the Kun reading for both kanji: はな び (the ひ becomes a び)

So keep in the back of your mind *usually* on readings are used when the kanji appears in a jukugo and the kun readins when the kanji stands alone and has trailing kanji (okurigana).

Don't worry too much now. You will pick them up as you learn the jukugo themselves. For example you will learn the vocabulary word 'hanabi' (fireworks) and then realize it is the kun reading for hana (flower) and hi (fire)

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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby Wolfie » Sun 07.03.2005 7:32 pm

Thank you very much for clearing this up. ^^ It's still a bit confusing, but I guess I need to practice my reading more.

Just one question...what would an okurigana look like? I'm not very familier with the term "Trailing Kanji". Actually, i've never heard it until now. ^^;;
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby Mukade » Sun 07.03.2005 8:40 pm

Okurigana are the kana that follow a kanji to make a complete word. For example, the adjective "beautiful" is a combination of the kanji 美 (うつく) and the okurigana しい.

So you would get:
美しい

I think what Clay meant to say was that okurigana are trailing kana, not kanji.
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby clay » Sun 07.03.2005 8:53 pm

Yes. Exactly (embarrassed). trailihng kana desu.

So the kun (native Japanese) reading with okurigana:
美しい utsukushi - beautiful
but the on reading with another kanji:
美人 bijin - beautiful woman
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby Wolfie » Sun 07.03.2005 10:26 pm

Oh! I get what your saying now. ^_^

So...青い would be a okurigana and be read aoi while 大山 is a jukogu and would be prounounced daisen?

Thank you for your help. Kanji makes alot more sence now. =D
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby netarou » Mon 07.04.2005 12:22 am

大山(だいせん) is mountain name, which is located in Tottori Prefecture.
大山(おおやま) means big mountain and is also mountain name, which is located in Kanagawa Prefecture.
大山(たいざん) also means big mountain, but this is bookish style.

When you want to say "big mountain" in Japanese, simply say 大きな山/大きい山.
大(お)っきな山だなあ。 What a big mountain this is.
※People in eastern Japan tend to say 大っきい/大っきな instead of 大きい/大きな.
彼大山(たいざん)の如(ごと)く居(い)たりけり。 He was sitting like a mountain.
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby mandolin » Mon 07.04.2005 1:37 am

Two comments to make here...

1) I think that figuring out the reading of kanji compounds becomes easier with increase in vocabulary. The more you know, the more natural something feels when you try to say it / read it.

2) Japanese sometimes get it wrong, also. I always look back to Sailor Moon for this one. Hehe. Most everyone knows about the legendary Musashi.. I think. But when one of the Dark Moon Circus freaks mangles it (because, obviously, he didn't know common history) he freaks out. "Oh, that's how you read that!?" he exclaims when corrected, and hurriedly pulls out some sort of history primer book to re-read the kanji.
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RE: Kanji pronounciation and reading

Postby Gaijinian » Mon 07.04.2005 2:16 pm

Often times On-yomi will be in Katakana, and Kun-yomi in Hiragana, as far as dictionaries.
The harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all.
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