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Creating a new word + Pronunciations of the kanji

Prolific

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One of the things that is still the most unclear to me about Japanese is pronunciation rules for kanji in compound words. Since I generally don't read Japanese text (instead, I use a translator), that's not much of an issue. However, I want to create some new terminology. Even if I get a list of kanji that I want to use to make the word, I don't know how the word I'd be creating would be pronounced - or how much control I have over the pronunciation if there are multiple on'yomi or kun'yomi possibilities.

For example, why is 呪術 read as "jujutsu"?

When I say that I want to make a word, I mean something like Final Fantasy 6 creating the word Runic as a skill name. In the original Japanese text, the skill was 魔封剣 - which people say is pronounced mafuuken. Why isn't it pronounced mahouken, given that 封 has both fuu and hou as on'yomi? Was that just a stylistic choice by the game designers, and they gave a furigana reading somewhere to standardize it?

Why is 人造人間 pronounced jinzouningen when ツ人 can be jin or nin, and ナ?テ is ken or kan - not gen?

As an example, I want to combine 呪,上,標, and 術 (with an intended meaning of something like "raised sign spell technique"). How would I know what on'yomi and kun'yomi options I have for its pronunciation?

What pronunciation options would I have for making a new word out of a compound word and another compound word?

For example, combining 薬品 and 魔法使 into a compound word (intended to mean something like "drug-based-magic user"), then adding 人造 to make a compound word meaning "drug-based-magic artificial user"). what kanji would i need to keep to communicate those meanings, and would I have different pronunciation options for, say, using 法 in the first compound word versus using it in the second/last compound word?

If I understand correctly, I could add a hiragana character after each kanji to identify the pronunciation I want (from the list of whatever orthographically correct options) - but I'd like to avoid that where possible.

Sorry if my questions aren't quite clear. I'm rather new to thinking about the subject.


Thanks for any answers, commentary, and/or resources!
 

Toritoribe

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ふう and ほう have different meanings each other. The former means "to seal" whereas the latter is "territory/fief".
ふう【封】[漢字項目]の意味 - 国語辞書 - goo辞書
(all in Japanese)

人間 is a single word as a compound kanji word, meaning "person/people/human", not just "人 + 間". When it's read じんかん, it means "among people".

You need knowledge about the language. To translate each word individually with a kanji and just to combine them doesn't always work well, as in your example "呪, 上, 標 and 術".
 

Morphling

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Basically Onyomi is messy and dictated by rules with no real pattern. A character can have several Onyomi which came from different eras of China and also a character can have multiple Chinese pronunciation to mean different things which is then mapped to different Onyomi.

The humble 説 has 7 combinations. As toritoribe said you need to know the language deeply to do start throwing characters together.


ImageUploadedByTapatalk1408533614.028819.jpg
 

lanthas

 
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Why is 人造人間 pronounced jinzouningen when 人 can be jin or nin, and 間 is ken or kan - not gen?
The phenomenon where the けん onyomi is changed to げん in a word is called rendaku; it occurs very often. Attempts have been made to find patterns based on word statistics and make rules based on those (see the link), but in the end there are always exceptions.

As for determining the pronunciation of new made-up words, you could always take 今日 "きょう" as a precedent and choose a completely arbitrary one that has nothing to do with the individual characters ;)

If I understand correctly, I could add a hiragana character after each kanji to identify the pronunciation I want (from the list of whatever orthographically correct options) - but I'd like to avoid that where possible.
No worries, Japanese do it all the time. See 入口 (instead of 入り口), 鉄板焼 (instead of 鉄板焼き) etc.
 

Morphling

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Good luck with Japanese writing system, they raped Chinese characters over and over again to fit their pronunciation *ateji* and importing reading from China from different era.
現代中国語なら日本語における漢字遣いと、いずれも五十歩百歩です。漢字はいわゆる文言、つまり古代中国語文語のために作られたものです。本来の口語、地域によって古代日本語と同様、文字で書き表せないものがほとんどです。

いまだに北京官話に欠陥が多数あります。例えば甚麼=何 東西=物 這=此 那=其。特に俗語の場合、漢字は万葉仮名的な存在で、本来の意味を全く無視されています。広東語はなおさらで、広東語のために作られた国字みたいなものが多いです。
 

Toritoribe

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へぇ、そうなんですか。面白いですね。確かに外来語と かでは中国語でも音訳のみされてる当て字みたいなのが 結構ありますもんね。

japanese has probably the stupid writing system in the entire human history.
前も同じこと聞いても答えてもらえなかったんでまた聞 くけど、じゃあなんでそんなもの勉強してるの?アニメ 好きでもマンガ好きでもなさそうなのに。それともJLPT 試験さえうまくいかないイライラが募ってる? :D
 

FinancialWar

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Comparing irregularities within a dialect (Tokyo ben) to dialects variants?
 

FinancialWar

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PS. This section of the forum is is English, this thread was entirely in English, so I don't understand why you to feel the need to communicate in Japanese all of a sudden. I don't go into the Japanese section and start uttering in English.
 

Toritoribe

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相手見て使ってるつもりですけどね。理解できなかったのなら失礼。(まあ前回は英語で聞いても同じ質問に答えてもらえませんでしたけどね。)
 

Morphling

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へぇ、そうなんですか。面白いですね。確かに外来語とかでは中国語でも音訳のみされてる当て字みたいなのが結構ありますもんね。
そうですね。日本語の漢字遣いは漢文に基づいているもので、文語口調の中国語は日本人にとって比較的わかりやすいです。中国語口語の漢字遣いは一言で言えば雑です。笑

文語: 迄今此事僕所未聞。
口語: 到現在我還沒聽說過這件事情。
口語日本語の漢字遣い: 今迄(まで)此(こ)の事について僕は未(ま)だ聞いていない。
 

Toritoribe

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確かに!漢文の知識がある程度あれば文語文は読み取れそうです。:)
 
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PS. This section of the forum is is English, this thread was entirely in English, so I don't understand why you to feel the need to communicate in Japanese all of a sudden. I don't go into the Japanese section and start uttering in English.
They probably want to talk about something in secret (in a sense that people who don't read Japanese, such as the OP, won't understand). I would very much appreciate really confusing and complex discussions, or bad remarks about me, said in Japanese, in an English thread, so that I won't hear it and other Japanese learners won't hear it either. My family does it all the time; talk behind people. It's both rude and polite, but definitely necessary. And besides, no rule against it anyways.

One of the things that is still the most unclear to me about Japanese is pronunciation rules for kanji in compound words. Since I generally don't read Japanese text (instead, I use a translator), that's not much of an issue. However, I want to create some new terminology. Even if I get a list of kanji that I want to use to make the word, I don't know how the word I'd be creating would be pronounced - or how much control I have over the pronunciation if there are multiple on'yomi or kun'yomi possibilities.

For example, why is 呪術 read as "jujutsu"?

When I say that I want to make a word, I mean something like Final Fantasy 6 creating the word Runic as a skill name. In the original Japanese text, the skill was 魔封剣 - which people say is pronounced mafuuken. Why isn't it pronounced mahouken, given that 封 has both fuu and hou as on'yomi? Was that just a stylistic choice by the game designers, and they gave a furigana reading somewhere to standardize it?

Why is 人造人間 pronounced jinzouningen when 人 can be jin or nin, and 間 is ken or kan - not gen?

As an example, I want to combine 呪,上,標, and 術 (with an intended meaning of something like "raised sign spell technique"). How would I know what on'yomi and kun'yomi options I have for its pronunciation?

What pronunciation options would I have for making a new word out of a compound word and another compound word?

For example, combining 薬品 and 魔法使い into a compound word (intended to mean something like "drug-based-magic user"), then adding 人造 to make a compound word meaning "drug-based-magic artificial user"). what kanji would i need to keep to communicate those meanings, and would I have different pronunciation options for, say, using 法 in the first compound word versus using it in the second/last compound word?

If I understand correctly, I could add a hiragana character after each kanji to identify the pronunciation I want (from the list of whatever orthographically correct options) - but I'd like to avoid that where possible.
As the others have said, Japanese is quite a mixed language, with things changing over time. Naturally, like any other language, different peoples will make their own additions of vocabulary and rules, and this eventually results in certain things that don't quite follow the standard rules but are used often, thus creating exceptions and the stuff. The reason why there's so many pronunciations and strange changes in the way things are written and spoken based on context and meaning is because of the way the language has developed. You need to understand the language to get a hang of how things work, as the others have said.

FinancialWar fails to note that Chinese in general has spawned an INSANE amount of dialects that if you actually tried to combine them all into one big Chinese language without sacrificing a massive amount of individual parts, you'd have a much more messed up language than Japanese. At least Nihongo is quite unified now, with not too many dialects.

TL;DR No need to go all the way, but try doing a little research and learning with Japanese. As you use the language, you learn why the language is the way it is. :3 Good luck, by the way!
 

Prolific

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From what's been said, it seems like what I'm hoping to do is essentially tantamount to trying to make an English word out of four other English words - though I thought it would be more like making an English word out of well-established prefixes and suffixes. I guess I got a different impression because of all of the made-up names in games, anime, and manga and how easily fan translators seem to be able to interpret them. But I guess that's similar to the difference between understanding a spoken language and actually speaking the language - one requires simply knowing the key words and basic linguistic patterns, whereas the other requires knowledge of every word and all relevant grammar.

I guess I'll have to search for a fluent speaker who is familiar with the subject matter I'm interested in.


Thanks for the comments about the history of kanji. It's always seemed rather confusing to me once I got beyond basic things like kawa/river (and rather sexist with things like "noisy" being a group of women).

That said, the spoken language is beautiful and there are so many things produced in Japan that appeal to me, so I'm sure that I'll keep slowly picking things up. :)


Just to help me along, does anyone know the relevant kanji and etymology of a slang word or compound word in Japanese? I'd like to get a basic idea of how they're formed while I'm still brainstorming (and until I find someone who is fluent).
 

nekojita

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Fan translators mostly just make up something which sounds good ;).

Consider in English the difference between "upscale" and "scale up". vs. "uptalk" (more recently coined) and "talk up". Then consider "upchuck", and you'll reallystart to see the issues in piecing together parts of a language you don't understand. A very old "joke" is to tell someone looking for a tattoo that 精子 is "spirit + child" (it really, really isn't) - but 子 can have multiple meanings in a compound (many broadly relate to "something little", but not always).

In general, a new compound word is more likely to be two words put together, or a word + a prefix or suffix, then just three or four kanji stuck together for their "meanings". It's also unlikely to be more than four characters (unless you get into things like names of organisations and similar proper nouns).

There are some grouping of kanji compounds by construction:
Two kanji with similar meanings put together: 森林 岩石
Two kanji with opposite meanings put together: 高低 大小
The first kanji modifies the second (first represents an adjective or adverb): 美人 = 美しい人、駅前 = 駅の前、 暗示 = 暗に示す
The second kanji is the object/target of the first (first represents a verb): 着席 = 席に着く 読書 = 書を読む
The first kanji is a negative prefix (未・無・不・非・否) - these are pretty self explanatory.

When it comes to games, manga, etc, they're mostly riffing off existing things (or each other). It doesn't have to stand alone as 100% understandable and unambiguous (magic sealing = sealing something with magic, or sealing off something that is magic?), because in the context there will be sufficient explanation (something telling you what it does, or one of those manga characters whose job is to stand on the sidelines explaining stuff and yelling out the technique names).

For slang, riffing on either the sound or construction of kanji is common:
名場面 = a famous scene (e.g. in a film or novel). 場面 means "scene" (Don't know the origin - probably just imported from Chinese). 名 as a prefix for "famous" is quite common. The 名 part is read "mei". This is important to know for the next part:
迷場面 = a "infamous" scene (internet slang). Done by replacing the "mei" part with the mei of meiwaku (迷惑) = nuisance.
サーバー = computer server (from the English)
鯖 = (slang) computer server (by compressing サーバー to さば which means "mackerel").

There are other things like reversing sound order, shortening from longer words, etc, that can come into play.
 

Prolific

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Ah, that explanation helps a lot! Thank you, nekojita!



Also, re: the whole "Y U no post English?" thing from above in this thread - personally, I don't mind it if people post in Japanese as long as they're willing to clarify any parts I don't understand (online translators and my knowledge of words when romanized are limited). If anyone's not sure about their ability to write in English but think they can help, I'll take the time to use Rikaisama and other tools to grasp what you're saying as best as I can. :)


[For any English-only speakers, the Japanese posts weren't relevant to my questions or to me, so it doesn't matter in this case, anyway.]
 

Toritoribe

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[For any English-only speakers, the Japanese posts weren't relevant to my questions or to me, so it doesn't matter in this case, anyway.]
Yeah, your understanding is correct.:)
 

nekojita

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A few more fun examples, mostly internet:

break downs of kanji:
米寿 is an old word for the 88th birthday. The second is just something like "celebration". The first is "rice". Supposedly the reason it's there is because if you take 88: 八十八, you can make 米 - the 十 is the cross in the middle and the two 八 form the diagonals.
只 is kanji for "tada" or free, it also looks like two katakana together "ロハ", so sometimes the latter is used as slang.
"kunoichi", meaning a female ninja, supposedly comes from breaking down the kanji for woman, 女, into く (hiragana "ku") ノ (katakana "no"), and 一 (kanji one = ichi)

more internet slang:
神 means "god", in internet slang it sometimes gets broken down to ネ申. Mostly this just means "really good (game/video/whatever)".
Some slang is directly related to computer input methods - うp meaning "uploader" comes from typing "up" while in kana mode.
お疲れさま "otsukaresama" is a set phrase used, among other cases, when someone has completed work. On the internet this got shortened right down to just "otsu". But if you type that into a Japanese input system and convert it you get a completely unrelated kanji: 乙.

So you get things like (on niconico where comments are pinned to a time on the video and can be made to scroll across while it's playing):
start of video: うp,乙! (thanks for uploading!)
after watching: GJ! 88888 (GJ = good job. A series of eights: eight = hachi, put them together with a small sound change and it's pachipachipachi - パチパチ = sound of clapping).

"number play", where the sounds of numbers are used to represent words, is wide spread and often used as a mnemonic device (for example to remember historical dates).

Actually a lot of slang and double-meaning seems to hinge on sound. For example if you tried to make "magic medicine" and stuck 魔薬 together just going off the meanings, it would probably be read まやく, which sounds like 麻薬 (narcotics). Works fine in some circumstances, especially if you do it on purpose, might cause a few double takes if you're marketing a game to preteens and do it by accident. ("What's that game about, Tommy?" "Making drugs.").
 

Toritoribe

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ネ申 is actually made of two characters "katakana ネ" + "kanji 申", not 倍角文字 of 神, therefore it's read "nemousu" as a slang.
 
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