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Subject: Re: Studying Kanji readings
From: Glenn
Date: Tue, 05 May 2009 23:44:40 GMT
References: 1

> After noticing a certain weakness in my ability to remember readings of kanji, I thought I should begin to study them more carefully, starting with Grade 1 of the Kyoiku Kanji, including the proper way to read and write them. My question is: which readings should I study for each character? Is it useful to be able to list off all the readings of a given character? One example is 生, which seems to have at least 7 readings, depending on how you count them:
> 生(い)かす
> 生(い)きる
> 生(い)ける
> 生(う)まれる
> 生(う)む
> 生(お)い立(た)ち
> 生(き)糸(いと)
> 一(いっ)生(しょう)
> 生(しょう)じる
> 生(しょう)ずる
> 生(せい)年(ねん)
> 生(なま)々しい
> 生(は)やす
> If I only count the unique furigana, there are 7 readings in this list of presumably commonly used words, and even more if you include okurigana (e.g. いきる、いかす、いける、うむ、うまれる、…).
> I suppose my goal is to be able to see a character on its own, or used in a place that I'm not too familiar with, and then be able to decide the best reading for the situation. But do I need to remember all 7 readings here, to be able to do that?
> Thanks

I suppose the simple answer is "yes," because you will encounter all of these words if you use the language enough. I have, anyway. But for this character in particular, and a few others like it, it's best to learn the words the readings are used in, and that will help you figure out better when to use each one. For instance, き is only used when referring to cloth. For things "raw" or "live," なま is used. I've only ever seen お used in 生い立ち. セイ is the more common 音読み, so if you don't know it's safer to guess that one, but obviously there are quite a few words where it's read ショウ. This is a pretty good list to start with, I'd say (you did leave out at least 生える, though, but that's forgivable because you have its transitive counterpart, 生やす).

Of course this is all based off of personal experience with the language; I haven't seen any corpus or done a specific study into the uses of each reading. If anyone can show them to be mistaken I'd appreciate the corrections. I think I'm at least close, though.

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