Meguro River
目黒 (Meguro) is not Me-Kuro. Why??
[photo: Meguro-River]
I think the Japanese language is difficult. Even when we master certain things like some pronunciations and meanings of kanji, that knowledge might not be useful every time when we read Japanese.

So, let’s learn about it together! I share a kanji question from a follower today! (*’▽’)

Why do these changes happen in certain japanese surnames?

矢 (ya) + 島 (shima) = 矢島 Yajima
赤 (aka) + 川 (kawa) = 赤川 Akagawa
目 (me) + 黒 (kuro) = 目黒 Meguro
尾 (o) + 田 (ta) = 尾田 Oda

Wow, that is a great question!! I guess so many people learning the language are wondering why. (@_@)??

Some of Japanese Family Name Stamps

The Answer is “Linking”

The reason why those changes happen in certain japanese surnames (or any other Japanese words) is what people call “linking” in English.

When we pronounce 2 or more words in a row, our tongues get a little lazy. Then people pronounce some words combination in certain way.

目 (me) + 黒 (kuro) = 目黒 Meguro

Ummm, please don’t ask me why. But it’s easier for Japanese people to say “Meguro” than “Mekuro”.

This may happen only to kanji in names coming after the first one, when pronouncing some words in a row.

So, Japanese people never read this kanji word 黒髪 “gurokami”. It’s always “kurokami” which means “Black Hair”. And 赤髪 can be “akagami : Red Hair” because “akakami” is hard to pronounce.

Hmmm, random language rules are tough! But I still think you will be able to guess the right pronunciation if you see enough examples.

How about those?? Can you guess theirs? Commonly some of them don’t change.

  • 小 (ko) + 林 (hayashi) = ???
  • 目 (me) + 白 (shiro) = ???
  • 本 (hon) + 田 (ta) = ???
  • 坂 (saka) + 田 (ta) = ???
  • 前 (mae) + 田 (ta) = ???
  • 高 (taka) + 橋 (hashi) = ???

Common answers are….

  • 小 (ko) + 林 (hayashi) = 小林 Kobayashi
  • 目 (me) + 白 (shiro) = 目白 Mejiro
  • 本 (hon) + 田 (ta) = 本田 Honda
  • 坂 (saka) + 田 (ta) = 坂田 Sakata
  • 前 (mae) + 田 (ta) = 前田 Maeda
  • 高 (taka) + 橋 (hashi) = 高橋 Takahashi

However, there is a reason why I keep saying “common”. Names are very tricky and rarely they are pronounced unusual way!

  • 坂 (saka) + 田 (ta) = 坂田 Sakada
  • 前 (mae) + 田 (ta) = 前田 Maeta
  • 高 (taka) + 橋 (hashi) = 高橋 Takabashi

They could be the answers, but not 100 percent for sure! Nobody knows which pronunciation is right until you ask the person who has the family name. (-_-;)

Meet as many as Japanese people and master the common way!

Thank you for the question again. (*’▽’)/


Today’s Kanji Shirt is “鍛錬 (tanren: Training)”! Keep practicing to get used to it!

If you want to know the meanings of any Japanese kanji that you don’t see English subs for in a particular animation or live action movie, tell me “Name of the Show”, “Season and Episode #” and “the Exact Moment (Minute: Second) if it’s available”!

If it’s just Japanese kanji that you see around you, like a shop sign or a tattoo, you can send me the photo as long as you are allowed to take picture of it.

I can’t promise to reply to everyone but I’ll try my best!

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