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他 is one of these common words that still to this day confuses me...

My general assumption is that:

  • used as a prefix, it should always be read 【た】, e.g.: 他人【たにん】
  • when treated as a "substantive" (that is essentially, followed by の), it is 【ほか】: 他の人【ほかのひと】(?)

But then, some expressions crop up, like 他の物, which my dictionary indicates as read 【たのもの】, and make me doubt whatever little I have deduced so far.

Could anybody settle the た/ほか rules once and for all (and point out any nuance in meaning, if they exist, between the two usages)?

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Aged people sometimes read as 'た' and as 'とう'. –  sawa Aug 25 '11 at 10:11
@sawa: you mean instead of 'ほか'? Are there any rules, though (cases where it's always 'た' or always 'ほか')? –  Dave Aug 25 '11 at 10:25
Yes, that's what I mean. Cases where it is always 'た' is just like you mentioned. Cases where it is 'ほか' can be optionally read as 'た'. –  sawa Aug 25 '11 at 10:38
@sawa: if that's all there is to it and you care to make your comment an answer, I'll be happy to accept it :) –  Dave Aug 26 '11 at 7:18
The biggest one that confuses me is その他. I've seen it read both ways and I don't know which one is right. And this appears everywhere, especially on garbage/recycling bins. –  istrasci Aug 26 '11 at 14:17
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You are right about when to read it as . The cases where it is read as ほか is correct, but some (mainly aged) people optionally read it as . Similarly, is read as など or とう, but some aged people read it as とう instead of など.

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btw just to clarify, do you mean that (in the cases when it is pronounced as ほか) if we were to pronounce ほか as た, it would sound as if we are from the "older generation" ? –  Pacerier Aug 29 '11 at 11:29
@Pacerier Yes. That's what I mean. –  sawa Aug 29 '11 at 11:37
ok thx for the clarification =D –  Pacerier Aug 29 '11 at 11:42
Since we are on the precisions: what about my example above, 他の物? WWWJDIC also reads it as たのもの... Is that an obsolete reading, or just an exception? –  Dave Aug 30 '11 at 2:26
@sawa Heys btw I was wondering when WWWJDIC csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/… lists "他の物" as "たのもの", does it mean that "たのもの" is also a fixed-phrase that has a different nuance/meaning from "ほかのもの" ? –  Pacerier Apr 11 '12 at 10:21
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