The difference between 読み方 and 発音

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all having a good time learning Japanese.
I’d like to further understand the difference between, and proper usage of, “yomikata” (よみかた) and “hatsuon” (はつおん).
both of them can mean “pronunciation”. After doing some searching I believe I understand the difference, but I thought we could discuss it here. So “hatsuon” basically means how a word sounds when we say it, the pronunciation. “yomikata” refers to how the word is spelt out, correct? So could I think of “spelling” as another synonym for yomikata? If not, what would be the correct word for “spelling”? Maybe someone could further clarify the meaning of yomikata?


I would say so, yes. However 読み方 and 発音 could be different in some cases, for example with kanji or words containing ぢ or づ

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could you clarify what you mean?

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ぢ is typically pronounced as じ, and づ is typically pronounced as ず (see yotsugana)


Pretty good question.

I feel the same. The examples given regarding ぢ or づ are very good when it comes to “pronunciation”. I think, 発音 can also cover things like pitch accent, no?

As for 読み方. WK gives a nice example when it comes to reading music sheets. This doesn’t make sense with 発音, I think.


I think 読み方 is more often used to mean the way you’d read kanji, specifically. It can also be translated to mean “reading” (as in, what is the reading of this kanji?). Thus it can be used in other ways, like reading sheet music, as @tls mentioned. 発音 only means “pronunciation,” though. So you could ask about the 発音 of a kanji, since it does pretty much amount to the same thing. But if you wanted to ask how to pronounce a word not written in kanji or an entire sentence, I’m not sure you could use 読み方 for that.

If you want a word for spelling, there’s 綴り (つづり). I don’t think you can use 読み方 to mean “spelling” since it really means “reading.” 綴り is about writing something down, while 読み方 is about how you read something based on what you already see.


Yeah, I’d include pitch accent in 発音, too, assuming that “pronunciation” is an accurate translation.

Beyond the pretty big variations in the yotsugana, there are also a lot of subtle allophonic variation. For example: Coarticulation of ん (think sempai and Nihombashi), how nasal the g sound is, how hissy the h in ひ sounds, z being pronounced either /z/ or /d͡z/, the 56 different ways of pronouncing the r sound …


In English, a word would have a 発音 and a つづり, but we wouldn’t say it has a 読み方 really.

That’s another distinction.


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