Marco Nieuwenhuis
Confused with Kanji and Katakana/Hiragana. So I just started learning Japanese from the Genki textbooks but I'm already confused with the first explanation that I found in this book. The books says that the kanji ''本'' means ''Book'', but then it shows that you read it as ホソ or もと which are pronounced as ''hoso'' or ''moto'', if I got that right. But when I put ホソ or もと into a translator, they both show a different word instead of book and they are also pronounced different than the kanji ''本''. So what got me confused was how do I pronounce ''本'', how do I write it down or read it?
Mar 31, 2016 8:18 AM
Answers · 6
First of all, you need to know this basic thing, there are two types of Kanji reading in Japanese, the first one is called "Kunyomi", which is the original Japanese reading for the kanji. Most of the time, IF you SEE a kanji STAND ALL ALONE, and you use the "Kunyomi", IF you SEE a kanji GOES WITH ANOTHER KANJI, then you use "Onyomi", which is the "Chinese-based reading". And NOTE that this is just "MOST OF THE TIME", there are exceptions. And this 本 just happens to be one of them. This 本, of course, its Kunyomi is "moto", and its Onyomi is "hon". So for example, there is a book on the table, and I say: これは本です. See that? It stands alone, there is no any other Kanji next to it, so you should read it as "moto" right? But no, it's still "hon". Because in Japanese, "hon" means book, any I'm talking this book. The context is important. So the bottom line is....you need to learn the words....for example "hon" is "book", so when you see 本, and the context is certainly about a book, then you should certainly read it as "hon". Please, Kanji just represents the word, don't be confused by their "readings". To illustrate that, I'll show you one more example, and it's even more intriguing. It's the word "田舎”, it's read as "inaka", and it means "rural area/ countryside". But the funny thing is if you look up both of these two kanji, you'll see that 田's Onyomi and Kunyomi are "den" and "ta" respectively. There is no "i" or "ina" whatsoever. The same for 舎, there is no "ka" or maybe "naka" whatsover. That's why I said the kanji just represents the word. 田 means "ricefield" and 舎 means "cottage" "ricefield" + "cottage" = "rural area" (makes sense), and what is "rural area" in Japanese? It's "inaka" That's the process of how you would read. Those "Onyomi" and "Kunyomi" are just there to HELP you SOMEHOW COME UP WITH A WAY TO READ the UNFAMILIAR kanj, you don't use them to decide how to READ kanji. I know my answer is long right, but well, can't be helped. Good luck.
March 31, 2016
本 has mainly two pronunciation. They are hon and moto. Hon is called おんよみ Moto is called くんよみ We Japanese decide which pronunciation we should read from the context.
March 31, 2016
It seems that "本" should be read as "ho n".
March 31, 2016
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Marco Nieuwenhuis
Language Skills
Dutch, English, Japanese, Korean
Learning Language
Japanese, Korean