Taking the following example, where the okurigana る in きる is dropped when combined with 物 (もの) to form the word 着物 (きもの), can we generalize this rule?

For instance, if N consecutive kanji appear, can we say that the okurigana of the first N-1 kanji characters' pronunciation is dropped, except for the okurigana of the last kanji character (taking N = 2 as an example)?

If so, then how large can N be (i.e., is there a sequence longer than three kanji characters that can be used in Japanese, perhaps followed by some following written okurigana)?

  • 1
    These screenshots are huge. – Flaw Oct 27 '16 at 19:50
  • If they were not, then it could be difficult to read the kana. – Jack Maddington Oct 28 '16 at 11:08

No, okurigana are not always dropped. It depends mostly on whether the okurigana make up part of the changeable bit on the end (the part that shifts in different conjugations), and whether that only changes vowels, or disappears entirely. For instance, in the verb 着{き}る "to wear", the る on the end in the plain form きる kiru just disappears when conjugating to the polite form きます kimasu, so the verb stem (the part before the -masu ending) is just ki, which is entirely covered by the kanji spelling 着. In the verb 切{き}る "to cut", the る on the end in the plain form きる kiru changes just the vowel to become きります kirimasu in the polite form. Since the り forms part of the verb stem, and that is not covered just by the kanji spelling 切, that り is usually written out as okurigana when writing kun'yomi compounds with this verb, such as 切{き}り捨{す}てる or 皮{かわ}切{き}り.

  • Short version: compounds are based on the -ます form, not the dictionary form. So you keep what comes before -ます. In the tale of two きる: you keep 着 in the case of 着る (着ます), but 切り for 切る (i.e. 切ります). – Mathieu Bouville Feb 15 at 7:49

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