Question about 文 and its もん reading

So, at level two the kanji 文 was introduced, with the on’yomi readings of ぶん and もん
Some pretty solid mnemonics were given: You eat buns while you’re writing and sometimes let a monster chase you around to motivate your writing.

Currently halfway through level 6 I’ve encountered 7 different vocabulary that have 文 in it, and of those 7:

  • The ぶん reading is used 3 times
  • The もん reading is used 1 time
  • And out of left field, the surprise shortenedも reading is used 3 times

So my question is… why is the もん reading taught instead of just も if も is going to be more common? Of course maybe this changes as I go on and the もん reading becomes more prevalent. But it’s got me curious… Maybe the ん is silent for some reason and it really is still もん? That’s my current guess since the も reading isn’t listed under its on’yomi or kun’yomi readings.
Either way, it has definitely caused me more than a few errors in review now since my brain is hard wired into remembering the eating buns and being chased by monsters mnemonic, when really they want me thinking about Moe Szyslac from The Simpsons.

From skimming through the vocab list, it looks like the も reading only shows up in words that include 文字, whereas もん is more general-purpose. Not sure why も isn’t considered a separate reading though.


Off the top of my head, if the onyomi is not ぶん then it’s always もん, except in 文字 (もじ) . According to this もんじ was actually probably the original pronunciation a long time ago but the ん dropped.

But then, 文字 is probably the word with the highest frequency of all the words involving 文 so it’s not like you can skip it :sweat_smile:


That was the pattern I was trying to go by in my brain at first, but then 一文字 (いちもんじ) popped up. :smile:
There’s always an exception to the exception of the exception with Japanese I’m learning the further I delve into it. Fortunately that seems to be the only vocab containing 文字 where it becomes もんじ, so I guess it can be remembered as 一文字 is the one (一) time where 文字 becomes もんじ.

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Well, 一文字 (ひともじ) also exists and means “one character” (one moji) :stuck_out_tongue:


Perhaps there is an issue about 文字(もじ)'s reading mnemonic, so I probably should @Mods

This is a jukugo word, which usually means on’yomi readings from the kanji. The reading of 文 is a bit of an exception here, so here’s a mnemonic to help you remember this:

You know all the letters of the alphabet only because of Moe (も). If it wasn’t for your buddy Moe teaching you all the letters, you probably wouldn’t even be able to read today. Thanks Moe!

Not sure if this is classified as an (On) reading of 文?

Perhaps it should be an exceptional reading, comprising of both Kanji?

Also, there are always many more vocabularies than in WaniKani.

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Oh no… I never even considered a vocab having alternative readings and meanings than what was taught in the lessons. I’ve just got 一文字 coded in my brain as いちもんじ / one straight line.
I wonder how many other words I’ve learned are like this. Now we’re in real brain hurt territory.


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Sometimes the ones with different readings will just be a common and an uncommon reading and they mean the same thing, and sometimes the different readings will actually be different words written with the same kanji, and as you build up your knowledge it’ll be easier to tell which word/reading it is from context (and sometimes there’ll be furigana—or the less common one will be spelled partially in kana: keeping with the 一文字 example, ひともじ may also be spelled ひと文字)

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. For now, it may seem like a lot to juggle the two different words/readings for the same kanji spelling, but as you get more familiar with it, it’ll be easier to file that extra info away with it without getting confused. It’s fine to just focus on the one and pick up the other later

Various online resources do not list モ as a valid on reading for 文, only ブン and モン . For instance see jisho.

I presume that the idea is that the reading of 文字 is the reading of the entire word, not も + じ, in the same way that 昨日 is not き + のう or きの + う.

Of course for 文字 it seems a bit more debatable since it almost certainly comes from the on reading もんじ with the ん dropped (and not a japonic root like 昨日), but I guess the Japanese linguists have decided that since it’s only in this particular combination it wasn’t a kanji reading but a word reading.


I’m not sure I understand the questions, doesn’t the mnemonic address them by saying that usually you’d expect an on’yomi reading but the reading here is exceptional?

Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood anything here.

Not to answer on polv’s behalf, but I think a lot of the confusion from this exception (at least for me) stems from the fact that も is neither an on’yomi nor kun’yomi of 文 and is its own entirely unique reading. In most reading exceptions I’ve come across on WK so far it usually does pretty well to say that the exception here relies on the kun reading despite being a jukugo or vice versa (or rendaku) as a form of getting you used to patterns in the language. In this case it’s a reading not listed for the kanji at all, which I feel kinda throws the whole purpose of the on/kun readings out the window if a reading for a kanji isn’t going to be considered as an actual reading, despite some kanji having upwards of six kun readings such as 下. Makes me think, what’s one more reading to remember?
I think I would understand not listing it more if it were a one time exception, but since this も reading has popped up so much it left me wondering why it was never taught or enforced when learning the kanji. At the very least mentioned during the kanji learning portion. Also, now knowing that despite 文字 being もじ in most vocab usage, there is still one vocab taught where it’s read as もんじ or もじ and the swapping between the two can skew the meaning slightly kinda has me scratching my head even more.

But maybe it’s as simias mentioned, the linguists didn’t feel it necessary to draw attention to the も reading as an on’yomi for some reason, so I guess maybe it will just be one weird exceptional reading that you have to devote some extra brain power to remembering as a hidden reading.

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I am not absolutely sure whether も is an exceptional reading of 文, or rather, もじ as a unit is an exceptional reading to be used in 文字.

I can’t find も being listed anywhere for 文. [1] [2]

If it’s the latter case, there shouldn’t be a mnemonic about も, but rather about もじ.

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I think we can think of もじ as a similar situation as rendaku or つ becoming っ, it’s not a new reading, it’s a phonetic modification in the context of specific words.

You don’t see ザイ listed as a reading for 済 even though it’s pronounced that way in 経済.

I admit that it’s a bit of a stretch though because the もじ situation is pretty exceptional as far as I know.


I’d also point out the same happens in English, but most people don’t have trouble telling between read (red) and read (reed), for example.

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Well, go figure I go back to my lessons and immediately stumble upon another occurrence of this. This time with the kanji 今. Where normally it has an on’yomi reading of こん, when paired with 年 for 今年, the more common reading for this vocab favors dropping the ん from it’s on’yomi reading to be read as ことし - which is a crazy exception in and of itself considering とし is the kun’yomi of 年, so essentially an exceptional on’yomi reading on top of a kun’yomi for a jukugo. My head may just start spinning fast enough for time travel to become possible at this rate.
Though こんねん is accepted which makes this one fall more in line with the standard jukugo reading patterns. I don’t think I’d feel good about not at least trying to remember the more common usage.

I guess where there is a on/kun reading that ends in an ん, be ready to deal with it occasionally shedding it for a wacky exception sure to get on your wall of shame a time or two. :smile:
As simias mentioned, just weird cases such as つ becoming っ that you have to get used to.


I found an etymology webpage that thinks 今年 is ateji. The こ is the same one as in ここ and この, and it’s just coincidence that it’s nearly the same as a reading for 今.


Yup! Plus all the noun/verb pairs that are spelled the same but pronounced with the stress on a different syllable. On their own, you just gotta pick one, but in context, you can tell which is meant

There are a lot of things that might seem difficult learning them in a vacuum like this, like different words being spelled the same or contranyms (words that are their own antonyms), but in context it usually ends up not being as big of a deal as you might fear

That makes sense. I have noticed that ateji don’t always seem to be random, and the specific kanji chosen sometimes fit meaning-wise, at least somewhat


One slightly related spelling trick that tripped me up the other day is 真ん中 (center). It functions like the WK vocab word 真っ黒 but since 中 begins with an n sound your have a ん in the middle instead of っ even though phonologically it’s the exact same thing.

I thought it was neat, if a bit surprising on first encounter. The Japanese writing system is insanely interesting, emphasis on insane.


Yeah this. At least 文句 (complaint) and 注文 (order, as in “to order something”) are fairly common words and they both use the もん reading. But they’re only in higher levels.

I haven’t looked at frequency lists, but 文化 is apparently N4 while 文字 is N3. I could imagine the former to be a bit more frequent. In any case, they are both important words.

There is also 縄文 taught by WaniKani. Not a super common word, but one is bound to see it eventually, especially when visiting historical landmarks in Japan. 文様 is another one, but can’t remember if that’s one in WaniKani and it’s less common, unless you’re into fabrics.

As a general question, isn’t “buns” as a mnemonic for 文 misleading? “bun” is read “ban”, while 文 is read “boon”.