Rendaku-ed.... sometimes

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if there was a rule/tricks regarding rendaku-ed kanji.
for instance:
America = 米国 (べいこく)
Kingdom of heaven = 天国 (てんごく)
China = 中国 (ちゅうごく)
is there a reason why some are rendaku-ed and others don’t? A way of picking the right way?


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If you’re interested, you can read this article by tofugu that delves into rendaku and explains Lyman’s law about voiced obstruents and all that to explain the linguistic basis for it (though as with any rule, there are always exceptions)

But really, it’s better to just learn it on a case by case basis, you’ll start getting a feel for it as you keep learning :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks so much.

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I believe there is no exception to Lyman’s Law, which is why it’s a Law. But it’s only about what prevents Rendaku, there is no law about what causes it.

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Really? This was from the tofugu article:

I’ve never understood Lyman’s law, but keep in mind you can make up sick mnemonics about Goku being Chinese and living in heaven to remember those particular ones.


Someone posted this a while back:

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As previously mentioned, you’ll get a feel for it after a while. I usually try to read vocab before I check the actual reading, and can often correctly guess whether it should be rendaku or not. I usually also anticipate when it should be a small tsu. By reading the word out loud it becomes easier to hear which way is correct, and I usually find that one easier to pronounce. However there will always be those words that go against my intuition.

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Maybe it’s poorly worded in the article, but I’ve never seen an exception. Even the Wiki page says “This is considered to be one of the most fundamental of the rules governing rendaku.”

I found one paper from 2013 but I couldn’t find it reproduced anywhere else. But it’s perhaps that was about voicing in general and not specifically rendaku.

I was wondering about it myself so I’m glad you’ve asked @casquette

Thanks for the link @MissMisc Super helpful!
Now I’ll have to find a way to wrap my head around it (O_O)← mii overwhelms by yet more new concepts to process…

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What helps me the most with remembering when it’s rendaku or not is that I always say the word out loud when I do reviews (both when it asks for meaning and reading). So if I’m unsure how a word is read I’ll just say both versions out loud and that way I can hear which one sounds most natural (because it’s what I’m used to hearing). It really works once you’ve reviewed the item a few times. (This also works for unusual readings, if I’m unsure about on’yomi or kun’yomi or whatever)

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