Dictionary Issues

Howdy! Just stepped foot into this learning journey with the Japanese language. I can now translate Hiragana-Romaji and translate some Katakana-Romaji to a good degree! :slight_smile:
The guide I’m reading states to go ahead and learn Kanji whilst learning Katakana.

Now I’d really appreciate if someone would explain the On and Kun system for Kanji when using dictionaries… For this example, I’ll use the kanji for two (二)

WaniKani: WaniKani / Kanji / 二

  • Says the popular reading is usually On’yomi
  • The On’yomi reading in Hirigana is

Jisho: 二 #kanji - Jisho.org

  • Unable to find popular reading
  • States that the KUN reading compounds is

What is the definition of a ‘reading compound’ and why is the on’yomi translation (according to WaniKani) in the kun’yomi section? Is this a problem with the dictionary or am I viewing this the complete wrong way?

Many MANY thanks. <3

It’s just a mistake in the dictionary data if 二 (に) is listed as a word with kunyomi.

It’s not a “reading compound.” It’s a “Kun reading compound.” A compound that uses kunyomi. It just happens to have a mistake in the list.

Jisho uses data compiled from various free databases. Anyone can contribute and improve them. That does mean there will be some mistakes though, as well.


Thought it was a mistake, thanks.

Also just one other question, if I take the Kanji one (一) via the Jisho dictionary, 一 #kanji - Jisho.org, it states that one of the translations in the On’yomi readings are イチ (ichi). This is written in Katakana which I thought is odd…?

I thought Japanese kanji would be translated into Hirigana if they’re not foreign and would’ve assumed this would’ve been written using Hirigana instead? Is this another mistake or are you just expected to translate into kata/hira whenever?


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Writing onyomi with katakana is a common dictionary convention. It’s just so you can quickly look at readings and tell if they’re kun or on.

Strictly speaking, onyomi are foreign. They are the readings borrowed from Chinese. Kunyomi readings are the ones that trace their roots to older versions of Japanese.

Onyomi literally means “sound reading” (basically, just sounds with no inherent meaning, because they’re not Japanese originally) and Kunyomi means “meaning reading” (readings that carry meaning in them since they come from Japanese words). That’s the root of those two categories.

But there’s no strict rule that words have to be written with hiragana or katakana based on their origin. Many words that are 100% of Japanese origin get commonly written with katakana. For instance, animal names. Some words that are 100% of foreign origin nearly always get written in hiragana. It’s just a rule of thumb that new loanwords are written with katakana.


That makes perfect sense. Thank you so much for your time replying to my question. :slight_smile:


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