On'Yomi and Kun'Yomi, 母 and 父

Kira Resari
Asked 4 years ago


Just when I thought than On'Yomi and Kun'Yomi couldn't get any more confusing, I come across these two kanji.

Now, so far I had assumed that Kun'Yomi is how a kanji is read when it's on its own, and On'Yomi is how it's read when it's in a word or combined with another kanji.

However, the Kanji 母 and 父 have their On'Yomi and Kun'Yomi explained as:


On'Yomi (音読み) Kun'yomi (訓読み)
  • はは


On'Yomi (音読み) Kun'yomi (訓読み)
  • ちち

The thing I don't understand here is, with above On'Yomi and Kun'Yomi, how then is お父さん pronounced おとうさん and お母さん pronounced あかあさん? Shouldn't it rather be pronounced おぼさん and おふさん respectively? I know it obviously isn't, but at the very least I'd like to undertand why.

Know someone who might be able to answer this question?

1 Answer


Kira Resari さん

I understand how to read Kanji can be really tricky! So even people in Japan sometimes have difficulties reading Kanji correctly sometimes!

To explain, first I think I need to explain what exactly Onyomi and Kunyomi are:

Onyomi are usually the sound that originated from Chinese language. As you may know, Kanji came from China, and we somewhat kept their original sounds as well. So onyomi is the sound in which Chinese Kanji already had.

Kunyomi, on the other hand, is the sound in which original to Japanese. Even though Japan and China may use very similar Kanjis, we have completely different sounds. So we added more sounds to each kanji, so that it sounds Japanese. So normally only with Onyomi, we may not understand what the Kanji is, but with Kunyomi, we can mostly understand which Kanji the sound indicates.

With that being said, for your question, "why it isn't read as Obosan or Ofusan" is because there in fact are more sounds to the words "mother and father" When they are used in a sentence or have Okurigana. As you know, Kanjis are originally Chinese characters but Japanese language already had its own sounds before Kanji came to Japan. Sooo, we sometimes put the kanji together with the Japanese sounds that mean the same as the kanji that is being put together with the sounds... if that makes sense. So it has nothing to do with how the Kanji is being read, but rather it is just that Japanese language already had a word for "mother" and "father" and they just applied the Chinese Kanji 母 and 父 to the sounds.

I hope this is clear enough, but if you need more details, please do let me know!


Answered 4 years ago