Let us pick a Chinese name with differently read kanji:


The possible onyomi are:

リ・ショウドン for Go’on
リ・セイタン for Kan’on
リ・シン(or チン)タン for Tousou’on

Now we open the Japanese Wikipedia to learn which is the correct option and find… リセイドン。 A combination of mismatching readings. Is there a way to predict which 音読み will be implemented in pronouncing the name of a Chinese person written in kanji?

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    yikes. historian slash linguist to the rescue please! I talk to Japanese natives all the time who say that many Japanese names' readings are unknowable without furigana notation... Just as an example I've heard of names that use the same kanji for boys' as for girls' names, but the reading used is different. Of course, I say "unknowable", but that's your average Japanese person... perhaps a linguist WOULD know, with context, how one of the "multiple possibility" readings would be read.... Hard to imagine though. Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 19:39
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    Out of curiosity where are you getting the readings ドン and タン for 雲?
    – virmaior
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 19:45
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    @ericfromabeno No, it's really unknowable, because sometimes parents will just make up an alternate reading (for a number of reasons; stroke count numerology, to add a touch of uniqueness, whatever.) No linguist is a match for that ;)
    – Gene
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 22:17
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    「清」「雲」? Or「青」「曇」?  Wikiでは「青曇」になってるし・・ where are you getting the readings ドン and タン for 雲 <-- 「曇」ならドン・タンと読めますが「雲」はそう読めないですね・・
    – chocolate
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 23:35
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