Anyone else confused by the various readings?!


#1

I know I’m probably beating a dead horse by starting this topic, but I can’t be alone. WTF is going on with soooo many different readings and how the heck do you remember what’s what? I know the mnemonics are supposed to help with that, and there are some general rules to try and narrow it down, but in the end am I right in assuming it boils down mostly to repetition and memorization?

I have read so many different websites by this point and even textbooks on the difference between on’yomi and kun’yumi, yet I am still perplexed. Somehow, I’m on level 7 and still haven’t fully grasped the concept. Am I alone? Does anyone have any suggestions for breaking it down, or websites that explain it for people with thick skulls? How do you not mix and match readings and end up with words that simply don’t exist?

For example, I must have tried to read the Kanji 名曲 as なきょく instead of めいきょく at least three different times. This is just one example, but I’m always crossing over the wrong readings, or using kun’yomi when I should be reading on’yomi and vice versa. I know there are rules, but there are so many exceptions it’s hard to internalize them as reliable rules. I have no room to talk, being a native English speaker and all…but hey, that’s what I grew up!

Thoughts?


#2

A similar question has been asked here just a short while ago - hope the answers that follow are of help.


#3

Here’s a really nifty article by tofugu on the topic that should help:


#4

As some general advice; when it comes to on-yomi and kun-yomi, rather than trying to keep straight what all of the readings are, it’s best to memorize how they’re read within a word. There are many irregular readings anyway that, even if you were to stuff every single reading inside of your head, it may not help.

What seems to help me is disregarding the mnemonic on the site, and making up my own silly version. I find it sticks better for me that way.


#5

I had the exact same problem as you do. So I’ll give you the exact same advice I was given:

Learn words. 学校 is pronounced がっこう and means school. When studying English, do you worry about why “slaughter” and “laughter” sound so different? no, you just learn the words.

In essence, just roll with it. You’d be surprised how far this gets you. I’m not a native english speaker, and I learnt a lot of words just kind of rolling with it. If I went back and try to learn all the rules to all the irregularities in English, I’'d become very frustrated.

Kanji makes no sense. But it will, just keep at it. If you try to find sense or a pattern, you’ll just frustrate yourself a lot. The Tofugu article @MidnightOverlord posted is a very nice read, but think of it as informative rather than a go to guide.


#6

Keep studying and come back in a year and I bet you’ll chuckle at trying to read 名曲 as なきょく, because it’s just a matter of experience that determines your ability to intuit these things.


#7

I’m gonna read that article that @MidnightOverlord shared, but the ones that killed me were the ones with 日 and 月, I fell behind and had 300+ in apprentice level when I decided to catch back up, so that didn’t help. I haven’t felt the multiple readings for a kanji are that big of deal, yes annoying at times, but not really a big deal. It actually makes me mad every time I see こう as the reading though, lol. So many of them. Many times I can figure out the reading by knowing that the other readings don’t sound familiar or right.

Do you say the words aloud and listen to the recordings? The more important thing is the word as a whole in my opinion, not the component parts. In your native language, I venture to guess that you don’t think about the parts that make up a word much. It just so happens that written Japanese highlights these parts in a way that most of us aren’t accustom to. It’s just my opinion.

With 名, though, you know that when it’s by itself it’s read な. Now that I think about it, maybe you do need to learn a little more about kun’yomi and on’yomi, I think that would help you make less mistakes, and only have to worry about the exceptions.


#8

Yes. Until you develop an intuitiion for readings.


#9

Nee, Leebo-sama what about when to read 人 as にん or as じん, it kinda follows some pattern but it’s like there are always exceptions


#10

Well, if you search here you can find 50 different mnemonic and categorization strategies, but I just go with what was mentioned above. Focus on learning the words and attaining experience and eventually you’ll grasp which to use.


#11

The ones that follow a certain pattern unconsciously get stuck with a certain pattern and the rest you memorize the words. However, there are some words like 人 which strange readings, which is why it is best to learn vocab along with kanji. Basically what WaniKani does. (although you need to acquire vocab elsewhere in addition)


#12

Thanks, but I’ve already read it!


#13

Kanji makes no sense. But it will, just keep at it. If you try to find sense or a pattern, you’ll just frustrate yourself a lot. The Tofugu article @MidnightOverlord posted is a very nice read, but think of it as informative rather than a go to guide.

This is exactly what I figured as it’s been my experience as a native English speaker. I never properly learned grammar but internalized all the rules anyway. Although I can’t explain it, it doesn’t stop me from executing it properly. This was reassuring to hear, so thanks![quote=“pokemonesb, post:1, topic:30471”]
Kanji makes no sense. But it will, just keep at it. If you try to find sense or a pattern, you’ll just frustrate yourself a lot. The Tofugu article @MidnightOverlord posted is a very nice read, but think of it as informative rather than a go to guide.
[/quote][quote=“pokemonesb, post:1, topic:30471”]
Kanji makes no sense. But it will, just keep at it. If you try to find sense or a pattern, you’ll just frustrate yourself a lot. The Tofugu article @MidnightOverlord posted is a very nice read, but think of it as informative rather than a go to guide.
[/quote]


#14

Just came across a good kanji that might illustrate the point 素. This kanji has two on’yomi す and そ. For the longest time I was trying to figure out when to use where and I just almost always looked up the word. Then, after looking at a list of vocabulary with 素 in it, I realized a pattern. That almost always when 素 was in a vocabulary referring to a trait like 素早い (fast) and 素晴らしい (wonderful), it had the reading す. Whenever it was referring to something not a trait, like 素行( behavior) and 酸素 (oxygen), it used そ. Knowing on’yomi and kun’yomi would have not really helped at all in comparison to just looking at enough words. That is basically what you have to do with kanji.


#15

I make notes of the tricky words, and especially in context. Then I look at all the words that have similar kanji but wildly different pronunciations with close meanings (I’m thinking of 生 here) and list those all out and then try to make sense of it, or make my own mnemonics to keep things straight. While WK has many great stories, they don’t work for everyone is every situation. Use memory palace techniques to really keeps things straight. Like xyzbuster is saying: the pronunciation changes with context. It’s a different word in a different situation. So, that’s part of learning the living language too. Hope this helps thin your skull :stuck_out_tongue:


#16

A good rule to remember is that if the vocab has two kanji, it uses on’yomi. If it uses 1, like in a verb, it’s kun’yomi. One twist that is easy to remember, is that if it’s a “living thing” that’s involved, it usually uses kun’yomi. Examples are body parts use 2 kanji but are kun’yomi. Neck is くび、and ankle 「足首] is あしくび both kun’yomi because its a body part. (Love that example too. Thinking of ankle as foot neck and wrist as hand neck is just fun.) Of course there are exceptions, but a ton of later vocab uses these simple rules. Keep at it and you will get it.


#17

In answer to your question; yes. However, that is the nature of the beast, no?

If Kanji were straightforward, we wouldn’t need something as awesome as WaniKani to make sense of it and we probably wouldn’t be here since this forum wouldn’t exist.

Keep at it and keep coming back here when you get stuck. I am discovering that the behemoth that is kanji has created an amazing community that will support you.