What's up with kanji having the same reading?

This may just be like pear and pair in english where they sound the same but have different meanings. Was just wondering if there is a way to discern them or not or maybe I’m just dumb who knows!
Kanji ex:三 is さん but 山 is also さん

You’re going to see a lot of that. Sometimes when I don’t know something I guess “kou” and it’s right!

I guess we just figure it all out via context or by reading the kanji.


Japanese is lousy with homonyms. Obviously any language has them, and they’re not as hard to distinguish as people often fear, but Japanese has an especially high frequency.

This is because they borrowed the kanji from Chinese and also took the pronunciations with them, which is what onyomi are. But, Chinese had tones, contours in the pitch of the syllable that distinguish things that sound the same from each other. Japanese has no tones, so every こう sounds like every other こう and every し sounds like every other し.

Probably the most famous group of homonyms is the はし trio. Chopsticks, bridge, and edge.

These actually do have pitch accent differences, but that’s another topic altogether. You can imagine that it’s actually quite hard to confuse these based on context.



Tip of the iceberg with the さん thing.

In chinese mandarin , 三 is pronounced as san while 山 is pronounced as shan.

Therefore when it came to japan, it all became the same.

correct me if i’m wrong though.

Kanji also aren’t words, so there is no reason not to have kanji with the same reading.


Let’s see,

In English we have C, which can be pronounced the same as S, like in ice.
It can also be pronounced K, like in cream.
K is sometimes not pronounced at all, like in knee.
Also X can be pronounced Z (xenos)

And have you ever asked someone who doesn’t speak english to guess how to pronounce “queue”?

Yes, different Kanji can sound the same, just like English letters can have overlapping sounds, but it’s not a big problem.


But there are also a ton of words with the same reading…

しか - only
鹿 (しか) - deer
歯科 (しか) - dentistry
史家 (しか) - historian
市価 (しか) - market price


Those words are much rarer than the Kanji, and you can use context for them:


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What about two, too, to etc in English? Or bank as in a river, or where you put money or what a plane does etc.

I’m sure it’s the same in all languages isn’t it?

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