1 Reply ・ Started by butterfly2bloom at 2020-10-03 08:09:02 UTC ・ Last reply by Leebo at 2020-10-03 08:46:09 UTC

Different pronounciation when you combine kanji

I'm an absolute beginner, and something puzzles me. 二 is pronounced ni 人 as hita. Combined they make 二人 futari. Why is this such a different pronounciation?

Leebo at 2020-10-03 08:46:09 UTC

Don't think of it as kanji having pronunciations that then get combined. Because that's not what happened historically.

"futari" is a word for "two people" that existed since before kanji were imported to Japan from China. So, basically they took their existing word and they applied it to the kanji used to write "two" and "person."

Kanji have many possible pronunciations because of the ones being borrowed from Chinese, the ones associated with Japanese words, and then the ones that represent combined Japanese words like this.

If you always begin by looking at it from the level of the word and not the kanji that are used to write the word, I think it will be easier to see how it came to be.

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