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Japanese

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 11 months ago

nihongo


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kana

kanji

 

Whent the Japanese adopted Chinese characters to write the Japanese language they also borrowed many Chinese words. Today about half the vocabulary of Japanese comes from Chinese and Japanese kanji are use to represent both Sino-Japanese words and native Japanese words with the same meaning.

 

For example, the native Japanese word for water is mizu while the Sino-Japanese word is sui. Both are written with the same character. The former is known as the kun yomi (Japanese reading) of the character while the latter is known as the on yomi (Chinese reading) of the character.

 

The general rule is that when a kanji appears on its own, it is given the kun yomi, but when two or more kanji appear together, they are given the on yomi. There are, of course, many exceptions to this rule. For example it is sometimes difficult to work out how to pronounce people's names because some of the kanji used for names have non-standard pronunciations.

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