My idol's name written in kanji is 北人 (ほくと). He once said that instead of 北斗, his parent changed 斗 into 人 because its meaning is much more deeper. But since I thought「北人」should be pronounced as「hokujin」, I'm really confused about why is it pronounced as「hokuto」

  • Related: 人:difference between ひと and -うと The basic reading of 人 is ひと, but since it's contracted into と in many compounds, now と is used as a valid suffix meaning 人 at least in names like this.
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 9 at 4:00

1 Answer 1


Hi and welcome on JPStackexchange!

As you may know, Kanji usually have multiple chinese and japanese readings. But when it comes to Japanese names, even highly unusual readings are allowed.

In this case reading 人 as と is actually not that uncommon, I think.


  • Hello, thank you for your answer:) the reason why Im confused is because I thought if 人 paired with a kanji character, it should be pronounced as じん or にん, except for special cases like 一人 or 二人 or 大人. I guess this one is also an exception then 🤔 I'll check the link:) once again thank you:)
    – みかん
    Commented Jan 8 at 3:22
  • @みかん - There are words like [素人]{しろうと} and [玄人]{くろうと}. I believe this と is from ひと.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Jan 8 at 4:17
  • @aguijonazo thank you for your explain:)
    – みかん
    Commented Jan 8 at 5:22
  • @みかん, for names, readings can be entirely arbitrary. In Japanese words (not names) with historical derivations like しろうと, the と for ひと includes the preceding う as well. Basically, the ひ combined with and was subsumed into the preceding "O" sound, in a historical phonological process. The と in the name ほくと is historically from the 斗 in the 北斗 spelling. Spelling the name as 北人 instead is an example of creativity in Japanese writing -- where sometimes readings and spellings are independent of each other. Consider 百舌鳥 read as mozu. Commented Jan 8 at 18:14
  • Also in some cases, t consonant from original ひと underwent voicing to d, e.g. [狩人]{か​りゅうど}, [仲人]{なこうど}, [蔵人]{くろうど}, [旅人]{たびゅうど} (this word is normally read たびびと in modern Japanese).
    – Arfrever
    Commented Jan 8 at 22:31

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