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Wikipedia says that 日本 can be pronounced either [にっぽん]{nippon} or [にほん]{nihon}.

Does this ambiguity in pronunciation happen with other words? If so, does it only happen with words that originated before handakuten (the circle symbol in ぱ ぴ ぷ ぺ ぽ) were added to the "p" sounding kana? (By Portuguese missionaries, according to the tv series Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo, at 5:00 of the link)

(Nihon and nippon has slightly different nuances according to the article, but that's not what I'm interested in)

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「十分」 (「じゅっぷん」 and 「じゅうぶん」) –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 18 '11 at 11:53
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The question is ambiguous. Are you looking for a word with two pronunciations, or a word with two pronunciations with slightly different nuances? –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 18 '11 at 11:54
    
@TsuyoshiIto: The former. –  Andrew Grimm Oct 18 '11 at 11:56
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It's not "ambiguity in pronunciation", it's "multiplicity in pronunciation". –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 18 '11 at 12:13
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The current wording is clear. Thanks for editing. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 18 '11 at 12:30

2 Answers 2

The question is ambiguous. Are you looking for a word with two pronunciations, or a word with two pronunciations with slightly different nuances? – Tsuyoshi Ito 5 hours ago

@TsuyoshiIto: The former. – Andrew Grimm 5 hours ago

Since it appears from these comments that you are just looking for words with 2 (or more) pronunciations, then, yes, there are a lot of them. I have a whole section of one of my dictionaries dedicated to this. (To be precise, the dictionary is 「続・日本語知識辞典」, subsection 「漢字のいろいろ」>「読み方によって意味が異なる熟語」).

Here are a couple examples, but I'm not going to go into the meanings of each. In some cases, the meanings are close but subtle, while with others they mean completely different things. Linguistically, the dictionary does not go into why the readings are different; instead only focusing on the meanings and context usages.

  • 分別 → ぶんべつ ・ ふんべつ
  • 一時 → いちじ ・ いっとき ・ ひととき
  • 市場 → いちば ・ しじょう
  • 上手 → うわて ・ かみて ・ じょうず
  • 下手 → したて ・ しもて ・ へた (note that 上手 and 下手 were discussed in this post)
  • 目下 → めした ・ もっか
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If we are talking about having pronunciation dictated by social setting/audience, then やはり and やっぱり count as such a pair in such a pattern.

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