国 reading 'k' or 'g'

Hi everybody !
This is my first topic and I know it’s completely random, but does anyone else get crazy over the reading of 国 when it’s combined with other kanji. I just can’t remember if it’s ‘k’ or ‘g’ and there doesn’t seem to exist any rule. It just randomly switches:

米国 - beikoku
中国 - chuugoku
天国 - tengoku
全国 - zenkoku

Does anybody have a memory aid or am I just the only one struggling with this ?

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Everything else (here on WK, at least) is こ.

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Those are all pretty common words, so you’ll get to a point where it would just sound wrong to flip it.

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Memorizing rules based on what words are on WaniKani sounds like a bad idea to me, considering the real world has more words than WaniKani.

One rendaku guideline I’ve heard is that it tends to not happen when the previous kanji is already voiced. For 米国 and 全国, 米(べい) and 全(ぜん) are already voiced, so it makes sense that 国 is pronounced こく and not ごく.

Of course, this says nothing about the other words. Sure, they happen to be ごく, but that’s more by coincidence than by rule. There are plenty of words that have an unvoiced kanji followed by 国, where it’s still read こく. I’m also sure there are exceptions to this rule (meaning you’d have consecutive voicing), but I don’t know how common exceptions are.

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It’s a good starting point, definitely better than nothing

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I disagree. That’s a good way to pass your reviews in WaniKani but have no idea when you read the words in the wild.

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There is also 隣国 - りんく, the neighboring country. But those are the only three on here.

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Some good reading on rendaku:

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That’s a pretty interesting article, thanks for the link! I do think that it goes more in-depth/technical on Japanese linguistics than is necessary for a beginner/casual learner though. For most people, after seeing enough words, I think following rendaku rules becomes instinctive and it just sounds right, like what @Leebo said.

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That’s very helpful, thank you !

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