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Advice on memorizing "onyomi" readings in kanji?

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May 25, 2016
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Having gone through jlpt n5 kanji and being halfway through jlpt n4 kanji, I don't find myself having too much trouble with the kunyomi. But the onyomi readings are very confusing, especially since they're mostly all similar, so I find it hard to tell between all of them. I'm aware there isn't a magical way that will suddenly make me an expert at this. But any advice is appreciated.
 

nice gaijin

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practice, and learning them in context. Don't just try to memorize that such and such kanji has this, that and the other reading. That's the brute-force method of learning and while you might remember stuff you aren't making the connections necessary to apply that knowledge when you encounter a new word or unexpected situation.

For example, remembering that can be こう or ぎょう isn't very helpful when you encounter a new word, because how are you supposed to know which reading to use? But try remembering that when used with a number like 三行 it means "#th line" and when it's used in a compound with a noun meaning like 行列、行事、行儀、行政 it's it's read ぎょう, but when used with kanji describing action or movement like 行進、行動、行為, it's read こう. This isn't a foolproof method (行員, bank teller, is a noun, but it's pronounced ぎょういん), but it gives you more of a foundation to stand on.

Also study the radicals because they have an effect on which onyomi a kanji may have, which can give you a better idea of how a new kanji is pronounced when you first encounter it. Japanese is highly contextual, and it's only through seeing these characters in context will you begin to internalize how they're used and pronounced in a given situation. Hope that helps
 
Joined
May 25, 2016
Messages
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practice, and learning them in context. Don't just try to memorize that such and such kanji has this, that and the other reading. That's the brute-force method of learning and while you might remember stuff you aren't making the connections necessary to apply that knowledge when you encounter a new word or unexpected situation.

For example, remembering that can be こう or ぎょう isn't very helpful when you encounter a new word, because how are you supposed to know which reading to use? But try remembering that when used with a number like 三行 it means "#th line" and when it's used in a compound with a noun meaning like 行列、行事、行儀、行政 it's it's read ぎょう, but when used with kanji describing action or movement like 行進、行動、行為, it's read こう. This isn't a foolproof method (行員, bank teller, is a noun, but it's pronounced ぎょういん), but it gives you more of a foundation to stand on.

Also study the radicals because they have an effect on which onyomi a kanji may have, which can give you a better idea of how a new kanji is pronounced when you first encounter it. Japanese is highly contextual, and it's only through seeing these characters in context will you begin to internalize how they're used and pronounced in a given situation. Hope that helps
Thank you so much! Several onyomi for one kanji was definitely a problem for me, this makes sense now.
 

nice gaijin

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similarly, while there may be a lot of homonyms in Japanese, the greater context of the sentence will tell you which こうしん or こうどう is being used. Context is king.
 

Mike Cash

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similarly, while there may be a lot of homonyms in Japanese, the greater context of the sentence will tell you which こうしん or こうどう is being used. Context is king.
Recently, during a telephone call with my wife she mentioned that there was a じょそうしているおじさん walking around the rear of our apartment. I told her I had seen a じょそうしているおじさん walking down our street one day last year. We continued to discuss the じょそうしているおじさん for a couple of minutes before it became clear she was talking about 除草しているおじさん and I was talking about 女装しているおじさん.
 
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So funny with that "josou shite itu ojisan". Context is king!
Sometimes ONYOMI and KUNYOMI is also mixed up. e.g. 大掃除 OO SOUJI 
 
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