投手 Common Reading

Is it more common to read 投手 as とうしゅ or ピッチャー?

I’ve been reading Adachi’s Mix manga about baseball and the latter is provided as furigana for the kanji.
But WK teaches the former.

So which is it?

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I guess it depends on the formality. In formal situations, it would be read as とうしゅ, and among friends, you can probably read it as ピッチャー

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ピッチャー is not a listed reading in any dictionary I have access to. I would say this is an example of the common manga thing of using furigana to indicate what the character is actually saying and kanji to indicate meaning or double meaning.

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とうしゅ is the only actual reading for 投手. Using ピッチャー as furigana is a case of furigana being what’s actually said, with kanji for meaning and/or clarification. I saw that sort of thing a lot in Haikyuu!! e.g. with ボール as furigana for 球. You see it more in manga than novels, probably as a way to save space (and then to be consistent in the times where they technically have room for the word they’re actually saying)

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I’ve talked about this some in the beginner book clubs, so here’s a quick copy-and-paste of how I address it in them!

Sometimes the furigana on a kanji is NOT how that kanji is actually read

It is quite often the case that, if the furigana doesn’t directly match the kanji, it’s an attempt to insert some double-meaning and make a joke.

From “The Way of the Househusband”, in which 包丁, referring to a kitchen knife and which would usually be read as ほうちょう, is given the furigana ヤッパ, a slang-y term that is used by Yakuza members to describe a blade (like a weapon, not just a normal kitchen knife, generally). A lot of the humour of this manga is directly related to other characters misunderstanding this character because of how he speaks. The kanji is used to indicate to the reader that what he really means is a kitchen knife, but the furigana is what he says out loud, hence the concerned reaction of the gentleman to whom he is speaking.

More commonly in shounen manga, however, and something you’ll see in games quite often as well, is that something like attack/skill/technique/magic/etc names will be written as English words, or in katakana, and the kanji will be explaining the basic “idea” of what the attack actually represents. You’ll also often see this for organization names and the like, or unique in-universe titles/events.

From Tales of the Abyss, where 神託の盾 (which would be read: しんたくのたて if the proper furigana for those particular kanji were used “Shield of the Oracle”) is called オラクル or “Oracle”. (Incidentally, the group is called “Oracle Knights” in the English version of the game). As with the Househusband example, the furigana indicates what is being spoken by the character, and the kanji indicates to the audience what the actual meaning is.

From Cardcaptor Sakura. 封印解除, a made-up compound of the words 封印・解除 (actual furigana for those kanji: ふういん・かいじょ), given レリーズ as furigana, which would be the English word “release”.

(At one point, I came across the actual Japanese term for this, but I’ve since forgotten it. :sweat_smile:)

Edit: Found it again. 義訓 (ぎくん)

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Other people have already explained that this is probably a case of katakana being used to express what’s actually being said, while kanji show what’s meant. Besides what’s already been said, two other thoughts:

  1. I wouldn’t be surprised if ピッチャー is actually the more common term for that position, but perhaps I’m wrong (I don’t know much about Japanese baseball beyond the fact that some top players head over to the US to compete in the MLB)
  2. ピッチャー can also mean ‘pitcher’ as in ‘jug’, just like in English, so perhaps this helps with clarity, even if context should have cleared up any ambiguity

Whatever it is though, deciding to go with 投手ピッチャー probably helped make the manga more readable for both baseball fans and people relatively unfamiliar with the game: people who know baseball would probably know the term ‘pitcher’, and people seeing it for the first time should be able to guess what it means from the kanji (at the worst, with a little help from context).

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This is a little alarming. Does it mean that I should not get into the habit of ignoring furigana when I know how to read the kanji?

I had previously understood the use of furigana as a way to help those with limited kanji understanding (e.g. children and, er, me)

Does this happen in manga only? Or are their other situations when furigana are used as a subsidiary information channel?

— Dave

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It happens sometimes in novels, too, but I think really only with made-up words or when the English (or other language) word is spoken, with the kanji to give meaning. I actually rarely see it in manga with little furigana and see it quite a bit in manga with full furigana (although I think those were just shounens, as an earlier user mentioned it happening a lot in)

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I see it primarily in manga, games, and light novels. I haven’t really seen it in more “serious” literature, but I wouldn’t be surprised to come across it.

I tend to read kanji first, and then glance to furigana afterwards to see if it is different than I expect. But generally, context will make it obvious.

In voiced things, they’ll usually be saying whatever the furigana is indicating (like in the Tales example), and in manga/novels, it’s usually a focus of the dialogue: a joke, like in the Househusband example, or name of a spell/ability like in Cardcaptor example. The exception would be sports things, like the example OP mentioned, where maybe a big deal won’t be made of it, but in that case, both mean the same thing, so skipping the furigana won’t hurt you.

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Also, furigana being katakana is a dead giveaway of this kind of thing (though it’s not always katakana by any means).

I think personally that I tend to read the kanji and the furigana at the same time, at least to the extent of identifying whether the furigana are the wrong shape to be the standard reading. But introspection about how I read feels a bit unreliable, so take that with a pinch of salt :slight_smile:

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The short answer: not necessarily. Context is key, and while I understand your astonishment, I don’t think you should be overly concerned. I really don’t think any of this needs to be codified, nor do I think it should be – it’s really a matter of how furigana are likely to be used in a particular medium – but if you want a few ideas to help you along, I’ll try providing some suggestions.

The first thing I’d like to bring to your attention is that all of @MrGeneric’s examples used katakana. That’s telling, and suggests that these ‘furigana’ are not meant to be interpreted as the usual ‘pronunciation indicator’ furigana that we first encounter as learners. This is something you could use as a loose rule: if the furigana are written in katakana, they’re probably not just a reading indicator.

However, there’s more, and this is where we realise this is a matter of interpreting and understanding the type of content we’re consuming, not something that operates based on rigid, obscure rules that you urgently and absolutely must know. Here are some other examples of furigana use, both standard and non-standard (like what we’ve seen in this thread so far):

  • In textbooks, furigana are typically used to indicate readings for new kanji or phrases written in kanji. In those cases, the readings indicated are typically standard.
  • Non-standard readings written in hiragana can be found over kanji in, say, movie taglines. (Therefore, it’s not simply a matter of katakana vs hiragana.)
  • Furigana can be used to indicate that a particular rare reading is being used for a given set of kanji. In this case, the reading is technically – or at least historically – ‘correct’, but quite atypical nowadays. This sort of usage is somewhat more common in poetry and songs, like with 永遠 (‘eternal’, usually read えいえん) being read とわ even though some dictionaries suggest other kanji for とわ, like 永久. とわ is a rare reading for either kanji compound anyway.
  • In novels, the sort of furigana usage we’ve just seen in this thread is relatively common, regardless of whether hiragana or katakana are used. My favourite example is from a light novel (and anime) title – ロクでなし魔術講師と禁忌教典アカシックレコード, known in English as ‘Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor’, though its Japanese title is closer to ‘The Good-for-Nothing Magic Lecturer and the Forbidden ScripturesAkashic Records’. The point? Double meaning, which can imply anything from facetiousness to a contrast between superficial and intended meaning. (I mean, just look at what’s implied about the story’s ‘Akashic Records’ from what I’ve just translated alone.)
  • In fiction in general, you can find such furigana used for the sake of clarity as well, especially with made-up names. Often enough, the kanji readings in such cases will be very typical and standard, but they’re included to ensure readers know how the author intended something to be read (e.g. 紅魔族こうまぞく for the ‘Crimson Demons’ in Konosuba), because these words don’t exist in real life.
  • Finally, in all sorts of documents (except perhaps official legal texts, though I am not at all sure about this), it’s quite common to include readings for rare kanji. This is very common in novels. It’s not a matter of their readings being rare per se – it’s just that these kanji are so rarely seen that people might not know how to read them even if they’re native Japanese speakers. For example, for あう (‘to meet’, typically written 会う), you could also have 遭う (typically used for unpleasant encounters, particularly with events and disasters) or 逢う (for encounters with people, especially good encounters/encounters with people who are important/precious to the subject of the verb). These can be kanji flexes (I mean, writers tend to have above-average vocabulary and kanji knowledge anyway), or simply a way of saving space. (Often enough, it’s both.)

To sum up:

  • If you see furigana in a context where kanji are likely to create difficulties (e.g. textbooks, books for children/students, technical documents, obscure kanji, discussion of historical Japanese usage), they’re just there to indicate standard readings.
  • If you see them used with a made-up/obscure word, they’re there to provide an intended reading.
  • If you see them in a (often fictional) context where kanji and readings might be used to send a message, then they’re probably suggesting another meaning, especially if they’re in katakana.

Practically speaking, if you’re just doing plain reading practice with non-fiction/materials targeting learners/materials presenting themselves as ‘serious’ literature, then yeah, feel free to ignore furigana, especially if there are a lot of them. (That’s usually the indication that the text targets people with less kanji experience anyhow.) Also feel free to glance at them to check. On the other hand, if you’re in another context, particularly one in which furigana are rare to begin with (e.g. texts targeting Japanese adults/older teens), then you might want to give them a little more attention.

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The shortlong answer: noyes :slight_smile:

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I’ve seen kanji used as furigana in these kinds of cases too (at least 2-3 times), but then it’s really easy to notice. It’s mostly for comedic effect or additional information, so if you’re fine with missing out on those, you could ignore the furigana. It wouldn’t be that different from missing a joke or side note in media in your native language imo.

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