Alright, so I am pretty new to learning Japanese. I’ve used books to learn hiragana and katakana, I’ve used Memrise decks for vocabulary until I finally stumbled upon WK. It’s been great so far but I feel like I am the only person struggling to read sentences, and I’m only on level 3! which apparently has the easier sentences on WK compared to the other levels.
First, I can’t really tell when I’m supposed to use KUN or ON when reading a sentence.
Second, I’m just lost lol.
Take for example the following example sentence when learning 太い (ふとい)…
Yamada’s eyebrows are very thick.
My issue isn’t the 太い, but the 山田さん… when learning 田, we’re taught “ta” and because i thought of the kanji reading for 山 rather than the vocab reading, I literally read that as Santa-San… then when I saw Yamada, I figured out oh they’re using the vocab but where the heck is the “da” coming from because both the kanji and vocab for rice field say “ta”?
this is just one example but there have been many times where i dont know how to attack the sentence. when do i use the kanji vs vocab reading when the kanji and reading are the same kanji but different readings? when do I use KUN vs ON? How do I avoid calling someone who’s name is Yamada-San, Santa-San? Halp! Lol. is this something you just magically figure out over time and with more reading practice?
Any feedback for a newbie is welcome and greatly appreciated.
Surnames are more likely to be read with a kunyomi than an onyomi, though it’s not impossible to have onyomi. Why? Because they’re Japanese names, and kunyomi readings are the native Japanese words assigned to kanji. The onyomi is the borrowed Chinese way of reading it.
た becomes だ because of rendaku, which is something you’ll have to get used to over time in regular vocab as well. Readings that are normally not voiced can become voiced when they are in the middle or end of a word (or name in this case).
Though names can vary based on the individual. Among people who have registered the name 山田, there are people who read it やまだ, やまた, やだ, and ようだ. Though やまだ is far and away the most common.
But anyway, I wouldn’t get down on yourself because a name was hard to read. That’s normal.
EDIT: Here’s the site where I looked up possible 山田 readings. It might be interesting generally.
Interesting! I’ve already learned something new (rendaku)… Yeah I guess it’s just a matter of learning more and being exposed to it more… That is so interesting for all the different variations that come from 山田! I appreciate the advice!
I would suggest installing the Rikaichan (Firefox) / Rikaikun (Chrome) extension in your browser, that allows you to hover over a word and get its reading / definition in a neat pop up I still use it now after so many years of studying Japanese! (I don’t think it works for names though, because they’re kind of specific).
After a while you’ll get used to how readings work, even though you’ll definitely stumble upon weird exceptions now and then.
I don’t have any specific resource, just an encouragement: pretty soon you’re going to get a feel for this and start guessing right most of the time. I mean, you won’t know for sure you’re right until you look it up for the first time, but at least it’s not so frustrating that you’re always wrong. Some words will still be pronounced counter-intuitively, but that makes them easier to remember as exceptions.
I really needed that encouragement! As @Leebo said, i shouldn’t be too hard on myself over a word pronunciation. You’re absolutely right, with time and doing my lessons/reviews every day it’ll get better and easier.