How do you make a choice from yon and shi for 4, or nana and shichi for 7 in Japanese. Why are there two alternative ways to say those numbers? Is there any importance?
Even individuals who aren’t enthusiasts of Japanese tradition would possibly have heard about the proven fact that in Japan the number 4 is dangerous good fortune. They may even understand it has one thing to do with dying. However there’s extra to it than that.
If truth be told, there’s a handful of Japanese number superstitions and quirks.
We’re going to discuss a number of various numbers, each the ones related to dangerous good fortune, but additionally the ones for excellent good fortune.
With such a lot of homophones in the Japanese language, they’ve gotten awfully inventive, and we’re going to take a peek at a number of it.
However let’s get started easy…
How do you make a choice from yon and shi for 4, or nana and shichi for 7 in Japanese?
Yon is the conventional studying of 4 in Japanese, aside from when counting months. When in doubt, use yon. Nana is the maximum not unusual studying of 7, alternatively shichi is steadily appropriate, as an example when naming months.
Why do Japanese numbers have other pronunciations?
We’ll get started with a common query and then slender down to 4 and 7.
Prior to we dive in too deep, I would like to dispel you of the perception that it’s in particular odd that Japanese has alternative ways of studying its numbers. That is slightly not unusual throughout languages. If truth be told, English has an excessively equivalent characteristic.
For instance, to denote “1” in English, we will say both one orfirst. This difference refers to cardinal and ordinal numbers, respectively. Japanese has an excessively equivalent gadget, converting pronunciation to relate to the manner we’re counting.
That doesn’t let us know a lot about “why,” regardless that, does it? The easy explanation why is that some numbers are derived from the local Japanese pronunciation, referred to as kunyomi.
The opposite numbers’ pronunciations are drawn from the imported, historical Chinese language readings of kanji, referred to as onyomi.
In the outdated days, Japanese handiest had, one, possibly two, tactics of claiming every number. But if Chinese language arrived in Japan in the mid-first millennium, the historical Japanese started to undertake other phrases into their language.
Moreover, since Chinese language at the moment (equivalent to these days) used to be no longer one unified language, however slightly a cluster of subtly (and not-so-subtly) other dialects of 1 language.
As a result of this, from time to time there are a couple of other onyomi for a unmarried phrase.
How do you select the right kind pronunciation?
For many of the Japanese language, there are some slightly helpful pointers on how and when to use kunyomi as opposed to onyomi. On the other hand, the ones laws get tossed out for numbers a large number of the time.
No longer handiest are there a large number of other pronunciations for the similar ideas, there’s additionally a large number of superstition grafted on most sensible of it, making it taboo to use positive pronunciations in positive scenarios. This complicates issues moderately a little.
What are the other pronunciations?
Let’s get the lay of the land, k?
So, how do I depend??
The ones of you conversant in the fundamentals of counting in Japanese is also shocked to realize that once counting continuously, you turn between onyomi and kunyomi as you pass.
The development is on, on, on, kun, on, on, kun, on, on, on. All that is much more complicated whilst you consider the common laws for onyomi and kunyomi. What’s up with that?
And why is it simply the ones two, 4 and 7?
Smartly, let’s take 7 first.
Distinction between shichi and nana for 7 in Japanese
When learn by itself, seven is normally pronounced nana. The explanation at the back of that is most likely to steer clear of confusion. Shichi sounds too equivalent to (one among the pronunciations of) 4.
Via the manner, seven is regarded as an auspicious number in Japanese, most commonly due to its courting to Buddhism.
There’s celebrations for the 7th day after a child is born, and mourning seven days after a dying.
There are the Seven Gods of Good fortune and the July seventh birthday party referred to as Tanabata (7th night time competition).
Let’s check out some phrases with 7 in them to get a really feel for how it will get used.
seven days; 7th day
dominant 7th (chord)
competition for 7, 5, and 3 yr olds
Tanabata (competition—the etymology in this one is bizarre. It used to be known as shichi-seki, however that modified through the years).
Distinction between yon and shi for 4 in Japanese
This one has a lovely transparent level of reasoning at the back of the discrepancy in utilization between the kunyomi and onyomi. It seems that the onyomi is shi and that still how you pronounce the phrase for “dying.” So, yeah, lovely unfortunate.
If truth be told, this one is regarded as so unfortunate that it purposes equivalent to the number 13 in Western cultures.
Similar to in the US you may see the thirteenth flooring lacking in some structures, you’ll from time to time see the 4th flooring lacking in Japanese structures.
For those who give a present in a suite, by no means do it in packs of 4. Persist with 3 or 5, to be protected (2, being written 二, can indicate separation or department—no longer a excellent factor).
This issue with 4 leads to a complete host of attention-grabbing problems when paired with different numbers.
24 can indicate 二死, or nishi meaning two deaths. This one’s to be have shyed away from as neatly in baseball, because it refers to having two outs.
42 feels like 死に, or shini which is an much more direct reference to dying and death.
43 feels like 死産, or shizan, meaning stillbirth. You gained’t to find this number in the maternity ward at hospitals.
License plates have a minimum of two numbers you’ll by no means see on a automobile.
The primary is 42-19, which may well be learn shini-iku (死に行く), meaning “to pass die.”
Then there’s 42-56, which might sound like shini-goro (死に頃), or “time to die.”
In spite of everything, there’s 49, which wounds like shiku (敷く), meaning “to run over.” Surely don’t need that one in your automobile.
Let’s have a look at a couple of phrases for some context.
Oh, and right here’s a unusual facet observe! When counting ahead in Japanese, you’ll normally say, “ichi, ni, san, yon, pass…” however in the event you depend backwards other people will steadily say, “pass, shi, san, ni, ichi,” as it’s it seems that more straightforward to say that manner.
9 in Japanese
There’s any other very dangerous vibes number, and that’s 9.
9 will also be learn as ku (苦), this means that “struggling and hardship.” So, as soon as once more, you’ll see this number have shyed away from so much, particularly in this pronunciation.
For those who pair this up with 4, you get 94, or kushi. You realize what else is known as kushi? A hair comb. So don’t present somebody that!
The Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, and the surrounding towns) is widely recognized for its distinctive Kansai-ben, aka Kansai dialect.
In contrast to the remainder of Japan, many of us in Kansai will go for the unconventional pronunciations of 4 and 7.
If truth be told, a lot of the roads are numbered in Kyoto and will have to be pronounced with the onyomi handiest.
On the other hand, many of us who don’t seem to be native to the space will pronounce it mistaken. It’s such an issue that the town buses if truth be told use the “mistaken” pronunciation to let other people know their prevent!
8 in Japanese
One remaining one for you! 8 is a lovely auspicious number in Japanese, identified for prosperity and enlargement. Why’s that? Smartly, simply have a look at the kanji: 八. See how it spreads out from most sensible to backside? This means enlargement and prosperity.
So, that’s all the attention-grabbing stuff about Japanese numbers I may just to find. However I do know there’s loads extra. When you have any ideas about odd or attention-grabbing number readings or usages, drop them in the feedback!
“I’ve lived in Japan on-and-off for the remaining 5 years, travelling to (virtually) each nook of the Land of the Emerging solar. I’ve deepened my love of the language with giant hauls from Sapporo e book shops, by means of chatting in Shinjuku espresso retail outlets, consuming in Osaka “snack bars,” exploring far-off Okinawan islands, and hitching rides with clergymen in Aomori. Japanese is a large and deep language, and I’m at all times keen to dive in deeper.”