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Linguaholic

ON-yumi & KUN-yumi


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Hello,

I've been learning Japanese by myself with manuals and I've gotten to a point where it's just not enough anymore.

My questions is about the ON-yumi (the Chinese way of saying the Kanji) and the KUN-yumi (the Japanese way of saying it). When I started learning the Kanjis I realized that each Kanji could be pronounced many ways; for example the Kanji for "person" can be pronounced "jin" or "nin" for the ON-yumi, but it can also be pronounced "hito" or "bito" for the KUN-yumi.

How do you know when to pronounced it the ON-yumi way and when to pronounced it the KUN-yumi way? Because when I read a sentence in Japanese, I recognize the characters, but I have no way of knowing how to pronounce it...

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Hi! Just curious: Do you feel any eyestrain in learning Japanese? Japanese letters/words seem to require very close visual examination of the letters/words. Also, how long have you been studying Japanese?

13 months ago I opted for studying German. Ever since I've been reading Der Spiegel (German newspaper) daily, writing out unfamiliar words. So far, my self-compiled German-English dictionary contains 16000+ German words with English translations. Result: I can understand about 90% of what I read--without using a dictionary (even though I still keep on writing out 20-30 new words a day). I can also understand about 80% of news programmes. WHAT'S YOUR PROGRESS IN JAPANESE IN READING AND LISTENING COMPREHENSION?

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That's a good question Anonymuser. A few years ago I studied some Japanese and I had the same problem. I will ask my Japanese friend about it, as I also can't remember

regards

lingua

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  • 7 months later...

Okay well this is where the concept of Romanji come into play, Romanji (for those who are unfamiliar with the concept of it) is the name/term used for the description of the English written format of the pronunciation of the kanji of any Asian dialect, especially for On-yumi and Kun-yumi. So pretty much once you find the Romanji of said kanji in their respective languages and match it up to said Kanji characters you should be able to know what it's saying...

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There is no sure-as-hell rule that applies to everything, but there is a general rule that applies to MOST cases:
ON-yomi (Chinese reading) is used when multiple kanji form one word (also known as "jukugo").
KUN-yomi (Japanese reading) is used when the kanji stands on its own.

In English, consider the words "telephone", "far away" and "sound".
"Telephone" is derived from Greek and/or Latin words meaning "far away" and "sound".
So if it were Japanese, "telephone" would be written with 2 kanji with the ON-yomi, while "far away" and "sound" separately would be 1 kanji each with the KUN-yomi, despite the fact "tele" and "far away" is the same kanji in English and so are "phone" and "sound".

It might be a weird example, but it's the way you can look at it.

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There is no sure-as-hell rule that applies to everything, but there is a general rule that applies to MOST cases:
ON-yomi (Chinese reading) is used when multiple kanji form one word (also known as "jukugo").
KUN-yomi (Japanese reading) is used when the kanji stands on its own.

I agree with this, but just wanted to add that it's necessary to check and memorize the pronunciation of practically every word that contains kanji. 

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If you don't mind, I'll move this topic to "Japanese Language Learning" -> "Japanese Kanji".
I think that's the best fit for kanji-related topics like this.

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  • 4 months later...

I got stuck when learning Kanji because of On-yumi and Kun-yumi. Like the thread creator I was confused by them but the helpful posts above by some of the members has cleared up the confusion for me. I'll try to follow the rules posted here and see how it goes. Thanks everyone.

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  • 2 months later...

Since I am still a beginner to the Japanese language, I didn't through so much difficulty when reading the on-yomi and the kun-yomi in the kanji.  For beginners, I have been exposed to the first 60 kanji, However, as I progress in the language, I expect that I will encounter the same problems as you.  You may want to read through the text first before going through the specific word, then looking at the kanji, reciting which is the correct reading.  If you read the kanji in the on-yomi and it sounds just not right, then the best reading would be in the kun-yomi, and vice versa.  This is in addition to some of the suggestions already posted here.

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