I've recently come across several people arguing about the correct pronunciation of GIF. There are camps who believe it's "d͡ʒɪf" and others who believe it's "gɪf". Several people also argue about whether "lɪnəks" or "laɪnəks" is the correct pronunciation of Linux.

Are there any words in Japanese like this that are hotly debated? Since Japanese has clear pronunciation rules, I mainly wonder if there are certain readings of kanji that are disputed.

  • Isn't this only possible in languages without clear pronunciation rules, like English? Is there any room for debate in Japanese over pronunciation?
    – user1624
    Sep 4, 2016 at 21:28
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    I'm sorry I can't think of many concrete examples right now, but I've seen arguments about 使い分け tsukai-wake: not how to read kanji, but which kanji to use for which nuance of a word. For example, the other day someone asked about かなう written as 叶う in the sense of "to match, to rival" (=敵う); all dictionaries including the Kōjien recognize this usage, but some native-seemingly commenters decried it as wrong. In Yahoo Chiebukuro, too, I've seen many opinionated, complex rules about which kanji spelling should be used for what sense of a word; only to find the rules to be unobserved in practice. Sep 4, 2016 at 22:02
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    – chocolate
    Sep 4, 2016 at 22:54
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    It's pronounced ['li:nuks], because Torvalds's name is pronounced ['li:nus].
    – oals
    Sep 5, 2016 at 7:23
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    Adding to @oals: it's pronounced ['li:nuks] also because Linus made up the word, and Linus said so. Sep 5, 2016 at 18:10

2 Answers 2


I can't think of any example that's new or tech. Some light examples are:

  • With personal names, you often have to ask the person how a Kanji is read -- for example, Nakata vs. Nakada --- 裕子(ひろこ,ゆうこ,やすこ)

  • 地名なんかの、特に連濁関係で、[ 正しい読み方で 議論がある、意見が分かれる ] という事がありそう。 良い実例は思いつかない。 

  • 七回忌 (× ななかいき → ○ しちかいき) 

  • 「十」(10, ジュウ) --- 漢字の 十 の読みは、「とう」ですか?「とお」ですか? detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1412549849

  • 「十歩」 「じゅっぽ」「じっぽ」

  • 「五十歩百歩」「ごじゅっぽひゃっぽ」 -- 正しくは「ごじっぽひゃっぽ」 

  • 体育 -- Correctly たいいく but many ppl (including myself) pronounce it as たいく

固執: ”こしゅう” → ”こしつ”-- the latter is considered correct these days, and there are 100 more examples here:



・攪拌:”こうはん”→”かくはん”   ・堪能:”かんのう”→”たんのう”

・端緒:”たんしょ”→”たんちょ”   ・蛇足:”じゃそく”→”だそく”

・設立:”せつりゅう”→”せつりつ”   ・睡眠:”すいめん”→”すいみん”

・出納:”しゅつのう”→”すいとう”   ・情緒:”じょうしょ”→”じょうちょ”

・宿命:”しゅくみょう”→”しゅくめい”  ・消耗:”しょうこう”→”しょうもう”

・漏洩:”ろうせつ”→”ろうえい”   ・稟議:”ひんぎ”→”りんぎ”

・捏造:”でつぞう”→”ねつぞう”   ・捧腹絶倒→抱腹絶倒

・貪欲:”たんよく”→”どんよく”   ・呂律:”りょりつ”→”ろれつ”


・御用達:”ごようたし”→”ごようたつ”  ・固執:”こしゅう”→”こしつ”

・早急:”さっきゅう”→”そうきゅう”    ・重複:”ちょうふく”→”じゅうふく”

・荒らげる:”あららげる”→”あらげる”   ・相殺:”そうさい”→”そうさつ”

・追従:”ついしょう”→”ついじゅう”    ・茶道:”ちゃどう”→”さどう”

・一所懸命→一生懸命     ・悪名:”あくみょう”→”あくめい”

・残滓:”ざんし”→”ざんさい”    ・貼付:”ちょうふ”→”てんぷ”

・口腔:”こうこう”→”こうくう”    ・直截:”ちょくさい”→”ちょくせつ”

・逐電:”ちくてん”→”ちくでん”    ・白夜:”はくや”→”びゃくや”

・世論:”よろん”→”せろん”     ・出生率:”しゅっしょうりつ”→”しゅっせいりつ”


・手を拱く:”てをこまぬく”→”てをこまねく”    ・丁字路(ていじろ)→T字路(てぃーじろ)

・味気ない:”あじきない”→”あじけない”   ・難しい:”むつかしい”→”むずかしい”

せんたっき -->  洗濯機 . . .  変換できたわ w

Clever jokesters make fun of this phenomenon:

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    @bcloutier Please note that NOT all of these examples given here are heavily disputed -- probably less than half of them are, I guess
    – chocolate
    Sep 6, 2016 at 1:05

There are definitely some examples. For instance, the Kibune 貴船 きぶねTemple in Kyoto is also called Kifune きふね by some (both are frequent enough to show up in these search results: https://duckduckgo.com/?t=lm&q=Kibune+Temple&ia=places); perhaps the town is more properly called Kibune, while the temple's name may be more properly Kifune.

Also in Kyoto, the Keihan Shichijou 京阪七条 けいはんしちじょう station is announced as Nanajou ななじょう on city buses.

  • 1
    – chocolate
    Oct 1, 2017 at 11:55
  • oops yes I stand corrected. IMEs are great as long as they guess right. Oct 1, 2017 at 13:32

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