I would love to use Aozra Books as a learning tool, but the accuracy of its ふりがな concerns me. This book, for example, claims 私 is pronounced わたくし instead of わたし.

Is the former a proper pronunciation?

  • Wait till you get to 旧字体, your head will really spin :) – bright-star Jan 4 '14 at 3:07
  • This topic is really more about わたくし/わたし than a certain tool. I think the title should be changed to reflect this, leaving out any particular resource. – istrasci Jan 4 '14 at 23:39
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    Most answers are indeed about わたくし/わたし, but the question was about Aozora's accuracy, which Matt answered for me. わたくし/わたし was simply the example I gave that made me question their accuracy. – Steven Edwards Jan 5 '14 at 10:13

To answer the question in the title, the furigana in Aozora files are the furigana that were actually used in the printed original. So they are accurate in the sense that they represent actual usage.

However, because most of the books there are very old (the majority being prewar), that usage often does not reflect what the Ministry of Education deems acceptable today. In the first few lines of Ozaki Hōsai's "Yogisha", for example, I see 離婚{わか}れて and 妾{わたし}.


In Japanese schools, we were taught that 「わたくし」 was the only correct kun-reading for 「私」. Read it another way, you got marked off.

Originally, this was all I was going to say in my answer. However, I did a quick research and found that it changed in 2010. Now, both わたくし and わたし are correct kun-readings.



  • Thank you for including the Wiktionary link, as I had never thought to look there. Do you think the readings on Aozora are reliable? Or do you think it depends on when the book was published? – Steven Edwards Jan 2 '14 at 17:20
  • This is surprising to me. In nearly two decades of learning Japanese, I have rarely (almost never) encountered the わたくし reading for 私. Definitely not outside of formal contexts. That it is considered a standard reading is not surprising, but that a school would consider it exclusive and not accept わたし (up until 2010) strikes me as bizarrely out of step with the day to day reality. – Questioner Jan 3 '14 at 6:33
  • There are a lot of surprising things. 誰 is not a jōyō kanji, for instance. – Zhen Lin Jan 4 '14 at 3:03
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    @ZhenLin It was added in 2010. You can find the updated 常用漢字表 here. – snailcar Jan 4 '14 at 3:30
  • @ZhenLin And 匁 got the boot. O tempora etc. – Matt Jan 4 '14 at 6:17

That is a proper reading. 「私」 can be read as 「わたし」, 「わたくし」, or one of several archaic ways given the context.

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    「あたし」??? No chance. – l'électeur Jan 2 '14 at 12:21
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    @TokyoNagoya: If you have a beef then bring it up with EDICT. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jan 2 '14 at 12:25
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    あたし【私】 dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/jn2/4513/m0u/… See also 明鏡国語辞典, 日本国語大辞典, 広辞苑, entry あたし. – blutorange Jan 2 '14 at 12:35
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    @ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Only after you bring it up with our Ministry of Education by saying "I saw it in my bilingual dictionary!!" – l'électeur Jan 2 '14 at 12:54
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    @blutorange goo says あたし【▽私】 actually. the ▽ is important because it shows it's a reading not on 常用漢字音訓表 – Robin Jan 2 '14 at 14:44

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