Japanese names pronunciation
  • Hello, everyone. First of all, excuse me for my terrible english X_X
    Well, for me, one of the most difficult things about kanji is trying to know the correct pronunciation of a name when it's written with kanji I still don't know. I'm never sure, for example, if I need to look first for the kun'yomi or the on'yomi, and if there are more than one pronunciation within them, I can't tell at all which one is the most common. Is there a way to find it out? Thank you very much
  • There's no such system. Sometimes on'yomi or kun'yomi are not enough, because there's 人名漢字 set of kanji that contains alternative readings when characters are used in names. Just take a look here: http://www.jisho.org/kanji/details/人

    What is more, sometimes same set of kanji has several different readings, ie. 田中 is "Tanaka", "Nakata", "Hiroka" and "Yanaka" et cetera.
  • Yes, I know this, but let's take for example the sirname you wrote: 田中 We know it can be pronunciated in many ways, but we also know the most common pronunciation is "Tanaka".
    It's this what I'm reffering to, I'd like to find out a way to sort out the most common pronunciations for names with kanji that are new for me, and I just don't know how to do it.

    Thank you very much for answering!! ^^
  • There is no way to know without asking the person or checking (for example, for famous people, it will say on wikipedia). In many cases, furigana (small hiragana above/to the right of the name) will be given.

    The reading of names does not have to follow on/kun readings. The only requirements when naming a child have to do with which kanji you can use (you can't use some kanji for names, like "cancer"). Two people could have the exact same kanji for their names but read it differently.

    Family names usually only have one or two readings, so they're easier. (山崎 can be "Yamazaki" or "Yamasaki", for example). Instead of looking up the individual kanji, look up the whole name on wikipedia.

    Some personal names only have one or two common readings, others have lots. So it's much harder to know. You can pick up some patterns - like 郎 at the end of a boy's name is usually ろう.
  • Oh!, checking the Wikipedia? I didn't think about that! Thanks a lot, I'll do it!
    I faced this problem several times, and when I ask to my japanese friends, they say there's always one pronunciation that is above the rest in names. Usually that pronunciation doesn't fit with the name pronunciations I find here, but with the kun'yomi or the on'yomi, so until I completely learn the kanji there's nothing I can do about it but asking T_T

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