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In Japanese it's east, west, south, north and south, but in Chinese it's written east, south, west and north. In English, on the other hand, the order is often north, south, east, and west.

  1. Are the computer-generated furigana correct?
  2. If the furigana are correct, why do the kanji have different readings?
  • The Chinese and English orders are explicitly mentioned as being different from Japanese, so if you used something to generate the furigana that was expecting Japanese, it seems like no surprise that it got wonky.
    – Leebo
    Jun 21 at 23:00
  • 2
    Why did this one get so many downvotes? It’s not easy to find out how non-standard combinations of characters are read. It’s definitely no worse than some of the recent questions that ended up with positive balances.
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 22 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


とうざいなんぼく is the correct reading of those characters when they are put together in that order.

The second one being Chinese, it is natural to read it in all on’yomi. Besides, 東南 and 西北 are both existing words in Japanese and they are read とうなん and せいほく, respectively. No one would think it’s strange. (In a mahjong context, it would be read トンナンシャーペイ. I don’t know why 西 is シャー, not シー.)

The last one is not a valid compound in Japanese. It’s just a list of directions, It could have as well been written 北、南、東、西. The auto-generated furigana picked the first valid compound 南東 and gave it the right reading. It should be read in either all on’yomi or all kun’yomi.


In such compounds, I would rather expect that on'yomi would be used, not kun'yomi.

西 has 2 widely used on'yomi readings: さい and せい.

東西南北 happens to be pre-existing Sino-Japanese word, included in dictionaries, with reading とうざいなんぼく. Voicing of /s/ to /z/ in ざい is result of rendaku. It happens sometimes, but not always, in compound words. Change of /h/ to /b/ in ぼく is also caused by rendaku. Modern Japanese consonants /ɸ/, /h/, /ç/ come from Old Japanese consonant /p/.

Japanese reading generated for Chinese word 東南西北 (in Modern Mandarin: Pinyin romanization: dōngnánxīběi, /tʊŋ⁵⁵ nän³⁵⁻⁵⁵ ɕi⁵⁵ peɪ̯²¹⁴⁻²¹⁽⁴⁾/) at least consists of valid on'yomi of these kanji. (せい reading was guessed here for 西.)

Japanese reading generated for 北南東西 consists of kun'yomi for 北, on'yomi for 南 and 東, and kun'yomi for 西. This does not seem correct.

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