On-yomi with more than one syllable

Most of the time on-yomi will have only one syllable, because these readings are coming from Chinese. In Chinese there can only be one syllable per character (except for some characters which are abbreviations of more than one characters, but this is not the case here), however some on-yomi have more than 2. I’m not talking about multiple mora here, like it is the case with 強(キョウ)for example. There are many exceptions of on-yomi having two syllables like with ゲツ, ヒツ, サツ, ソク and コク. One similarity these all have is that the second syllable is either ツ or ク. Does anyone know why these on-yomi are the way they are?

What about 一 (いち) or 会 (かい) or 石 (せき)? There are plenty others that end with き as well.

How are you classifying those?

Well かい is still one syllable but I dont know about いち

The pronunciation of 一 in Ye Olde Chinese appears to have been something like “yit” (and still is, in some dialects). So yeah, I can see where you’d get いち from that.

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Something I found on Wikipedia ↓

Most on’yomi are composed of two morae, the second of which is either a lengthening of the vowel in the first mora, the vowel i, or one of the syllables ku, ki, tsu, chi, fu (historically, later merged into ō), or moraic n, chosen for their approximation to the final consonants of Middle Chinese.


[citation needed] :stuck_out_tongue:

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This kanji has れふ listed as an onyomi as well, but I don’t see it appearing in any words as such.

EDIT: Could just be a mistake though.

It’s in Kanji > Readings > On’yomi
: )

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You can read about it here, especially the “Phonetic correspondences between Modern Chinese and on’yomi” part:

My understanding is that many Middle Chinese words ended in “impossible” endings like ~n, ~ng, ~t, and the Japanese just appended additional ~i, ~o, ~tsu, etc. to make them work in Japanese.


I personally think it’s important to abolish in the concept of “syllable” when thinking in Japanese, as disregarding morae and thinking in syllabic terms is going to cause you to make phonetic errors. Majority of 音読み are two mora (at least, for 常用漢字), with the rest as single mora readings. Similarly, there are only three 常用 examples of 訓読み exceeding four syllables at five.

I know this very well, my interest was about the adoption of Chinese syllables.

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