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Onyomi versus Kunyomi???

From what I understand one is the more Chinese pronunciation and one is the traditional Japanese pronunciation. Is that right? Do I need to know both or is it okay to just focus on the Japanese pronunciation?

I'm a complete beginner so I'm just a bit frazzled...
posted by DigitalBun

Comments 8

  • pekoegal
    Actually, you should learn both. Both pronunciations are used for kanji, though the "general rule" is that when it's a bunch of kanji together, you read it the Chinese way, and if it's a kanji followed by Japanese characters, you read it the Japanese way. (There are exceptions, of course). Unfortunately, you just have to muscle through it and try to learn all the common pronunciations and quirks.
  • DigitalBun
    Is it okay to focus on the pronunciations provided on the vocab page for now and go back to the other pronunciations as I get more versed? http://oi59.tinypic.com/30u5rh0.jpg In my notes I'm using the pronunciations outlined in red, is that an okay starting point?

    I just have no idea how I can remember any words if I'm having to remember 10 pronunciations for each one (๑﹏ ๑;)
  • pekoegal
    Yeah, get to know those common clusters first. The rest will make sense later as you get more exposure.
  • Dirk
    Nah, it's not "pronounciation". Kanji have meanings, and since the Japanese had no letters of their own, they just assigned a single Kanji (or sometimes several) to a Japanese word by meaning. So learn the meaning of the Kanji, learn the Japanese word, and then Kunyomi won't be a problem. As for Onyomi, like English imported Greek and Latin words, Japanese imported Chinese words (and lots of them). And just as words like "biology" consist of parts (bios = life, logos = word, teaching), Chinese words consist of parts, one for each Kanji. But because they were imported at different times and from different Chinese dialects, the parts are read differently. So learn Onyomi by words: In 生物学 "biology", 生 = life, 物 = thing, 学 = teachings, and this is read sei-butsu-gaku. However, in 荷物 "luggage" ("load-thing", ni-motsu), 物 is read "motsu". When you encounter new words, you learn the Onyomi. And the Japanese word for thing is "mono", so this is the Kunyomi of 物. Always learn in context.
  • jpnative
    生物(seibutsu)[living thing] 学(gaku) せいぶつがく

    荷物(nimotsu) にもつ
    物体(buttai)[object,matter] ぶったい

    often used----------------------not often used

    Please enjoy learning Japanese! XD

  • DigitalBun
    Thank you to everyone who commented, and especially thank you to Dirk. Your explanation makes perfect sense and is really helpful!
  • AnimeQueen
    how did you add a picture to your profile
  • Kant_Lernjap
    You don't need to study either, you'll pick them up naturally as you learn vocabulary.

    Onyomi: The kanji is ON another one (erotic).
    Kunyomi: Kanji-KUN is alone.