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In this RPG video game I'm currently playing, monsters attack you with different techniques with made up names, such as 氷円弾. Since I don't know how I should read that kanji compound I searched this forum in look for an answer and got several, but they didn't quite fit my needs.

I then started looking for words that began with 氷, and found some with on'yomi reading, i.e. “ひょう” (例:氷山、氷河、氷菓) and many others with kun'yomi reading, i.e. “こおり” (例:氷水、氷屋、氷鬼、氷箱、氷菓子).

On the other hand, I also looked for words that had 円弾 in their written compound, but found none.

It seems I cannot answer the question by myself. Is there a way I can know the correct reading, especially when the author didn't make it explicit? Is it possible that the correct reading is left to the imagination of the gamer and thus it could be both こおりえんだん or ひょうえんだん?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

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    "On the other hand, I also looked for words that had 円弾 in their written compound, but found none." Surely you found that 円弾 itself is a word? I don't see a reason to parse this as anything other than a noun phrase with 氷 and 円弾 as separate words. Unless the game gave you furigana for it earlier and you just didn't notice. If you saw icecannonball (or a bit more imaginatively, icevolley) in an English game, would you be wondering about whether the first e should be pronounced (or how)? Or would you assume the developers omitted a space to be stylish? Mar 18 at 21:04
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    @KarlKnechtel By that logic you should be telling me that 円弾 is obviously pronounced えんたま. Sometimes life isn't so simple. Mar 18 at 22:17
  • Well, no, my point is about parsing into words, not about how the words are read. It's relatively rare for three kanji to represent a single word, since the single-kanji (for wago, possibly with furigana) and double-kanji (for kango, in turn because of how Chinese works) patterns are just far more established. Mar 18 at 22:28
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    Could also be ひえんだん. Just saying.
    – dungarian
    Mar 19 at 0:22
  • @KarlKnechtel I did find that 円弾 itself is a word, and I also took the three kanji compund as a noun phrase. However, my question was not about parsing, but about how the words are read. Knowing that I was looking at a noun phrase didn't help me get an answer by myself, and that's why I asked for help in this forum. BTW, there was no furigana in the game. Mar 19 at 13:07

2 Answers 2

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This is almost certainly read as ひょうえんだん, in on'yomi. Simply, most neologisms today (both in fiction and in real business fields) are read with on'yomi, and it is usually not necessary to consider the possibility of kun'yomi when seeing such words. Games like Monster Hunter have literally hundreds of words like this (for example see this list of great swords), and nearly 100% of them are intuitively read with on'yomi by native speakers.

The exception is when the word clearly has okurigana, or when the word is clearly related to Japanese mythology, onmyōdō, yōkai or such. Ōkami has lots of items read with kun'yomi. Additionally, although it's rare, there are cases like Himorime in Demon's Souls where difficult-to-read kun'yomi readings are deliberately adopted to give the impression of ancient mythology.

In the case of an attack skill called 氷円弾, if the attacker looks like an ordinary gunner, wizard, or samurai, it's 100% ひょうえんだん. If you think the word seems evidently related to Japanese occultism, you might consider other possibilities, but the reading of such words simulating ancient language is often difficult even for native speakers.

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Ultimately, to a certain extent, it is true that 'the correct reading is left to the imagination of the gamer'.

That said, certain readings are more plausible than others. I'm not sure how familiar you are with kanjis, but there are basically two types of reading: on- and kun-reading.

USUALLY, on- and kun-reading do not mix. So ひょうえんだん is more likely than こおりえんだん. (こおり is kun, えん(だん) is on.)


BTW there's まるだま (まる and たま are both kun) and this looks like the only reading as far as existing dictionaries tell. So based on this, it would be こおりまるだま, but this sounds fairly unlikely as a name for an attacking technique.

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