Why is 中古 spoken ちゅうこand not ちゅうご?

I had the impression that the first consonant in the second component of a compound word is always replaced by its soft form. ご replaces こ, ぼ replaces ほ, etc. Apparently the rule is a little more complex than that. What am I getting wrong?

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https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/rendaku/

edit: they did a podcast on this as well.

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こ is an onyomi reading for 古, and therefore the first expectation should be that it does not rendaku.

It’s not impossible for onyomi readings to rendaku, but generally they don’t.

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I really need to read that article again.

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It was over my head when I first read it. It basically came off as “tl;dr exceptions exceptions good luck lol.” Which I suppose is just how Japanese in general feels when you’re starting out. :unamused:

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The podcast episode is really good, in my opinion; the article contains more information and is more structured, but it can be a bit daunting. I was already fairly familiar with rendaku, but I still learned a fair bit from the podcast, and it was fun to listen to.

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No. That’s what happens WHEN Rendaku happens. But most compounds don’t have rendaku.

Rendaku mostly happens for repeated sounds. EG 人々 (ひとびと), 様々 (さまざま), 時々 (ときどき) etc, or certain words like 腕 (うで) + 時計 (時計) = 腕時計 (うでどけい)

You know, this seems super daunting at first, but after a while it feels like you can kind of tell when there’s an exception or not. Without looking at any rules, I have about an 80% chance of guessing rendaku or not on my lessons right now.

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