On'yomi pronuniations?

Okay so recently I noticed a trend, and I thought it was just a fluke, but do radicals have something to do with the pronunciation (at least for on’yomi)? For example 古 and
固 have the same on’yomi, 周 and 週 have the same on’yomi, 亡 and 望 have the same on’yomi, and then there were a few more I remember seeing. Is this a thing or just some weird coincidence and is there anything like this for kun’yomi? I know Chinese is tonal whereas Japanese isn’t so I feel like it would make sense if it were true for on’yomi but not kun’yomi.

You get a bunch of shortcuts of that sort that’ll come in handy, though 古 is probably the better choice to keep the reading of 固 in mind since 口 has the extra う.

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Yes, there are phonetics which help to guess on-yomi, and here is a useful user script which helps to find find out about them while learning new kanjis and looking on a kanji page: [Userscript] Keisei 形声 Semantic-Phonetic Composition


Yeah, you’re noticing phono-semantic compounds, where new kanji were created by Chinese people going “this is the word related to [blah] that sounds like [blah blah].”

Though in the case of 口 and 固, the square shapes are not related. They are just two kinds of elements that happen to be square shaped. But you will see 固 in other kanji as a こ element, like 個 or 錮.


OK thank you! I wasn’t sure what to call this lol. I realized after typing it up that 口 and 固 weren’t the same, but it was still the idea.

This is actually one of my favorite aspects of Japanese and kanji. The script that @lifev linked to is a must have if you learn well from patterns like this. You’ll notice many phonetic components naturally over time (as you already have), but some aren’t as obvious or have exceptions, so I’ve found the script to be incredibly useful.


Phonetic components are a fantastic resource for learning and remembering kanji readings, and it’s a bit of a shame that WK itself doesn’t try to teach or take advantage of them.

Be aware that phonetic groups can vary in how consistent or useful they are. There are some groups with two common readings (e.g. 亡 can suggest ぼう or もう), and some groups that are very messy (e.g. the 昔 group is all over the place).

But even in the inconsistent cases, there is often some connection between the different readings.

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