上半

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Shatin, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Shatin Junior Member

    Hong Kong
    Cantonese
    There are times when Japanese pronunciation really leaves me scratching my head. For example, the word 上半 is pronounced as じょうはん, and 上半身 is pronounced as じょうはんしん. So when I first saw the word 上半期, I thought it would be pronounced as じょうはんき. However when I looked up the dictionary, I found that the pronunciation is actually かみはんき. (Similarly, 下半期 is pronounced as しもはんき rather than かはんき.) Can someone please explain to me why the two different pronunciations for 上半. For example, how should 上半年, 上半月 and 上半部 be pronounced?


    Thanks!
     
  2. Tonky Senior Member

    Japanese
    かみ・しも here means different from うえ・した/じょうげ even though they use the same kanji, 上下.
    かみ means the first half of what you split into 2, しも means the last half, and does not mean top/bottom as 上半身・下半身.
    Please refer to http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/湯桶読み
    Certain old words use かみ・しも instead of うえ・した/じょうげ as well.

    There is no such word as 上半, but 上+半期 & 下+半期, and you have 第1四半期(the first quarter)~第4四半期(the last quarter).
    Also, we do not have words such as 上半年 or 上半月, but we do say 上半部/じょうはんぶ, and 上半分/うえはんぶん.
     
  3. nagoyano Senior Member

    Japanese
    The distinction between the 'on' pronunciation (derived from ancient Chinese) and the 'kun' pronunciation (applied from native Japanese) is often difficult. In a general sense, words and phrases derived from Chinese are pronounced in the 'on' style. Those of native Japanese vocabulary are pronounced in the 'kun' style. In your case, 半期 hanki is pronounced in the 'on' style. It probably came from Chinese. When we distinguish the first and the second halves of a year, we added 上 kami and 下 shimo, which are pronounced in the 'kun' style. This part is based on Japanese ideas, rather than Chinese ones. Indeed, the expression of 上 (upper) and 下 (lower) is typical of Japanese but untypical of Chinese.

    Thus, we often mix the 'kun' and 'on' pronunciations in one word, just like 上半期 kami-hanki. In this case, the 'kun' comes first and the 'on' follows. This pattern is called 'yuto-yomi'. (The other way, the 'on'-'kun' combination is called 'jubako-yomi'.

    In reality, however, it is very difficult and almost impossible to establish a universal rule. It is practical to learn each word with proper pronunciation. This is how we Japanese learnt new words in our childhood. I am sorry for the inconvenience. This is how our Japanese language works.
     
  4. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese
    Shatin, that's the way it is, unfortunately. No rules.

    Then you might wonder if it's better to select かみ・しも for 半期 in business Japanese. Well, I can't say yes for sure.
    We also say かみき(上期), しもき(下期). What if we select じょうき? This is confusing with 上記、蒸気、条規・・ How about かき instead of しもき?People suppose you're going to speak about oyster.
    To avoid confusion? U~m, this is not a perfectly true reason, I think.

    I humbly suggest you to keep on scratching your head lol! The best way when no rules? Just memorise!
     
  5. Shatin Junior Member

    Hong Kong
    Cantonese
    Thanks to you all for your explanations!

    As regards 上半期, maybe I was too clever for my own good. When I first saw the word, somehow I was reminded of 浅草 and 浅草寺. 浅草 is pronounced as あさくさ. Adding 寺 to the end turns the pronunciation to the all ON reading of せんそうじ. So I thought 上半期 would also have an all ON reading of じょうはんき. Now I have to learn more about yuto-yomi and jubako-yomi.
     
  6. Shatin Junior Member

    Hong Kong
    Cantonese
    Harping on this subject a bit more, I have read quite a few accomplished polyglots who advise that when you are reading in a foreign language, don't look up every word you don't know in the dictionary. Just guess the meaning. Repeated exposure will allow you to learn the word eventually. I am sure these polyglots have never learned Japanese! While one maybe able to guess the meanings, one can never guess all the pronunciations correctly. In reading Japanese, one must check the dictionary all the time.
     
  7. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese
    Shatin, say aloud あさくさでら and せんそうじ. You'll notice せんそうじ is much easier and cooler. あさくさでら contains too many vowels あ so it's annoying. People are not so masochistic to especially choose more bothersome one, and an uncool name あさくさでら may affect their business to gain income from visitors.
    Regarding how to read a word, there are a lot of things you have to 'surrender', unfortunately. I'd like to know why manoeuvre is manu:ver.

    BTW, temple's names are usually xxじ. But xxでら is okay when it's used as nickname. e.g. えんぎりでら(縁切り寺)
     
  8. Shatin Junior Member

    Hong Kong
    Cantonese
    frequency, actually I've been wondering if temple names are usually XXじ. An immediate counter-example I can think of is 清水寺 which is pronounced きよみずでら. Just wonder if it's a rare example where でら is used in the official rather than nickname.

    How about mountains? Is it usually Xxさん?For example 富士山 is 富士さん and not 富士やま. But then 円山 in Kyoto's 円山公園 is まるやま.
     
  9. Tonky Senior Member

    Japanese
    When you want to know how it is read (pronounced), you would always have to check the dictionary, that is no different whether you are a native or not. It's just that natives "hear" words more in every day life so we know more. We, native Japanese, actually skip thinking how it is supposed to be read and just guess and catch the meaning by kanji. Quite often you meet someone who learned some words with wrong yomikata. Some common words should be learned how it is read, but for some uncommon words, it is not a big deal to know how it is officially read. (上半期 is a common word in business or news, but many children or the young who are not interested in news or business do not know how it is read.)

    As for names, it is totally up to the one in charge, so you will have to learn one by one, basically.
    For example, in my relatives town, there is a mountain called 冨士山(not 富士山, it's 冨) which is officially read as "とみすやま" and its nickname is 大洲富士(おおずふじ). Locals know how to read it, but most people from other areas can never tell how it is supposed to be read.

    A while ago, there was a newspaper article about re-naming one of the most famous shrines in Japan, Ise, in English before their coming 神宮式年遷宮 ceremony. We all are very used to calling shinto related buildings as "shrine" and buddhism related as "temple", but just because some people decided and suggested that "shrine" sounds too small for such a big and gorgeous ceremonial place, they are now considering to name it "Shinto Temple" for the official translation of "Jingu". There are both pros and cons for this renaming.
    As you can see, names are arbitrary.
     
  10. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese
    Yes, I think so too!

    We have the shrine called あさくさじんじゃ next to せんそうじ lol! You'd say this is because it's a shrine. It's sorry to say I know a shrine called せいりゅうじんじゃ. This kind of stuff is really annoying=3

    富士山? When calling a mountain xxさん? The name shows that the mountain has the relationship with the Japanese religion based on the mountain worship. But not strictly always―it's a rough categorisation. (ひえいざん、こうやさん、つくばさん、たかおさん、 etc.) 円山公園?Somebody wanted to call it まるやまこうえん!
     
  11. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese
    Who did read 下期 as かき ever?That's me, it's true, because I didn't use a dictionary lol.
     
  12. Shatin Junior Member

    Hong Kong
    Cantonese
    Talking of あさくさじんじゃ, I am reminded of 五重の塔. The dictionary gives two possible pronunciations for 五重: いつえ、ごじゅう. There is now a TV drama going on called 八重の桜, pronounced as やえのさくら. Naturally enough, I thought 五重の塔 would be pronounced as いつえのとう. Wrong! It should be ごじゅうのとう. There is a 八重塔 in Kyoto. Not sure how it is pronounced.
     
  13. frequency

    frequency Senior Member

    Tokyo, Japan
    Japanese
    Shatin, I don't know either. You say you want to know how I deal with this one? Okay, しょうがないなあ~・・

    I'm browsing this 八重塔 now without checking a dictionary and google. It's true. I feel that my brain is running to search how to read for seconds. Something has come to my mind now! やじゅうのとう!The tower of the beasts! So I realise this isn't likely to be やじゅう.

    After having this error and continuously thinking about it for a while, now I'm wondering if this may be やえのとう. Why? We have a word 三重、みえ. But 八重塔 doesn't have の. Again, my idea is proven to be an error. My process goes like this. Give up? Then I'll use the Internet.

    Shatin, making an error in reading difficult kanji isn't an embarrassed thing at all.
     

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