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After reading @jkerian's comment in this post, I started thinking about this. Here's the comment in full:

On a side note, all days ending in '4' are also irregular, and use ~よっか. So the 14th is じゅうよっか, the 24th is にじゅうよっか, even though all the other days >10 switch over to ~にち

Obviously the most calendar days is 31, but does this rule apply if I want to refer to the 34th day? Or 84? Or any number of day that ends in 4? Or twenty (はつか - 20日)? Or do these rules only apply to so-called "calendar" speak?

I realize there are probably better ways of saying such things, but here are some examples:

  • 事故から44日目 → The 44th day since the accident. (よんじゅうよっかめ or よんじゅうよ(ん)にちめ?)
  • 裁判長は犯人に120日間の懲役を申し渡した。 → The judge sentenced the criminal to 120 days in prison. (ひゃくはつかかん or ひゃくにじゅうにちかん?)
  • 宇宙探査機が2374日間で往復した。 → The spacecraft made its round-trip in 2374 days. (にせんさんびゃくななじゅうよっかかん or にせんさんびゃくななじゅうよ(ん)にちかん?)
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4 and 20 aren't odd, they're even! :) –  Andrew Grimm Oct 3 '12 at 9:33
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@Andrew Grimm: よっか and はつか are odd readings of even numbers of days, which makes them even odder. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 4 '12 at 3:55
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

We actually asked my teachers this question (all native speakers, PhD'd professional language teachers) , and they had to confer.

They concluded that if you were counting days in the year (like some business calenders do), day 364 would have been さんびゃくろくじゅうよっか.

Note that this example is still basically "a date" ('calender-speak', as you said), so I'm not sure about your examples that specify time periods, and I was taught that these variants were limited to dates. I can't speak authoritatively, but I would use にち for every one of your example sentences.

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I'll suggest you to ask the teacher whether to say さんびゃくろくじゅうむいか. I bet no. And after the answering the question, the teacher may change the opinion. –  Teno Oct 4 '12 at 3:09
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@Teno: That's not really the same, since 16 and 26 use にち, unlike 14 and 24... it's not an extension of a pattern seen earlier. –  jkerian Oct 4 '12 at 3:12
    
Oh I see. I wondered we do say ひゃくはつか for 120 then, it seems to be possible. dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/167770/m0u But I have to say it's really unfamiliar to me. –  Teno Oct 4 '12 at 3:18
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I've never heard of よんじゅうよっか, ひゃくはつかかん, or にせんさんびゃくななじゅうよっかかん. Sounds very funny to me though. So my answer is we don't say it. This might be of your interest: http://q.hatena.ne.jp/1185325505

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Did you read that whole comment? Sounds like either way is fine for out-of-calendar-range numbers. –  istrasci Oct 3 '12 at 4:45
    
I posted my opinion. It's like 僕は姉がある. We don't say it. This is really funny. –  Teno Oct 3 '12 at 4:57
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I think that よんじゅうよっか is the most natural reading of 四十四日. If you do not read 四十四日 as よんじゅうよっか, how do you read it? よんじゅうよんにち? よんじゅうよにち? Both sound ok but less common to me, and よんじゅうよにち can be confusing with 四十余日. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 3 '12 at 11:48
    
I read よんじゅうよんにち. I understand the other way sounds natural but it should be due to the familiarity with counting days with the calender. I hardly imagine people actually using it and in fact I've never called days in such a way when they exceed 30. –  Teno Oct 3 '12 at 16:08
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