I'm trying to learn Japanese but I'm the kind of person who can't really learn if they don't understand some of the mechanisms. I'm stuck when learning vocabulary because I can't just be like "OK this one is strange but whatever, it must be an exception, I'll learn it that way".
What slows me down are the many ways of pronouncing kanji. I don't want to learn the whole story from the beginning but I just want to know the different cases about why sometimes the main rules about kanji aren't followed.
The point of my topic is to understand every case I can encounter when learning Japanese words, so I won't be stuck trying to figure why a word has a strange pronunciation.
So here is what I have gathered, I'd like you to correct me or to add some things, please. I'm interested in knowing the appropriate terms for the phenomenons, I've written them in italic and bold for the first use in my message.
(helps understand some cases)
Japanese people had a language without writing system. They then discovered Chinese writing and used the kanji with their own Japanese pronunciation (kun'yomi) and the Chinese - simplified - pronunciation (on'yomi).
They then used the kanji for their phonetic value only (man'yôgana), which leads to creating katakana (a part of a man'yôgana to show the pronunciation of a kanji in a text, something like what furigana are nowadays) and hiragana (a simplified man'yôgana when written fast).
1) a kanji alone uses kun'yomi reading.
2) a combined word uses on'yomi readings of each kanji (with sometimes little alterations).
火 = ひ
山 = やま
火山 = カザン
Question 1: why is that so? Is it because Japanese didn't really mix words together before getting kanji? They didn't have a word for a volcano?
(breaking the main rules)
1) a kanji alone has no kun'yomi reading because the word didn't exist in pure Japanese:
菊 = キク
Question 2: does this phenomenon has a name?
2) a combined word has a kun'yomi reading for each kanji because Japanese had already orally created combined words. They've then combined the correct kanji of each kun'yomi reading:
名前 = なまえ
小山 = こやま
Question 3: does this phenomenon has a name?
3) a kanji alone has a combined kun'yomi reading because a unique kanji existed in Chinese for a word made up of two words in Japanese. It doesn't break the main rules but we can see sort of a "orally combined word" on a unique kanji:
鶏 = にわとり
Question 4: does this phenomenon has a name?
Funny: the word たまご has two writings corresponding to point 2 (玉子) and 3 (卵).
4) a combined word with two kanji, the first one in on'yomi reading and the second one in kun'yomi reading (jûbakoyomi):
曜日 = ヨウび
5) a combined word whose reading is neither the kun'yomi readings or the on-yomi readings of the kanji, because the word existed in Japanese and the kanji are used for their meaning only (jukujikun):
山羊 = やぎ
大人 = おとな
Question 5: was the combined writing of a jukujikun only created by Japanese to suit the meaning of the word, or could it have existed in Chinese?
6) a katakana word combined with a on'yomi reading of a kanji to create a new word:
7) a word using kanji for their pronunciation only (ateji). It can be the on'yomi reading (shakuon) or the kun'yomi reading (shakkun). They tend to be written with kana only:
誤魔化す = ごまかす
合羽 = カッパ
8) a word using two purely Japanese readings because it's a repetition (often written with the repetition sign 々):
時時 = ときどき
Apart from my questions, I'd be glad to read every information and correction you can offer. Thank you.