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外海 has two readings がいかい and そとうみ. What is the difference of the two? Personally, I am under the impression that がいかい is the common reading because of its similarity to the word 外国【がいこく】. However, I have encountered situations (some songs) where そとうみ has been used instead.

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    Poetry (like song lyrics) tends to bend linguistic rules in name of artistic freedom. So I wouldn't trust it as example of common language. – ratchet freak Aug 28 '19 at 16:02
  • jisho.org/search/そとうみ listed as another reading of かいがい – TutorJack-YouTube Aug 28 '19 at 16:55
  • @JACK I also first was confused between 海外 and 外海 (like Shanghai and Kaijo....). Anyway, considering 瀬戸内海 I think that even if it is read with naikai, I think it would at least be intuitive to use sotoumi for a "sea area distant from any islands" as contrast to naikai. – Tuomo Sep 2 '19 at 14:02
  • がいかい is correct, I mistakenly pronounced. – TutorJack-YouTube Sep 2 '19 at 14:09
  • @JACK OK. And, I realize my logic in my comment also didn't make much sense, so, I will up-vote the question and wait and hope that someone will answer.... ;-) – Tuomo Sep 2 '19 at 14:13
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The NHK Accent dictionary and the 大辞林 include both がいかい and そとうみ readings as valid for this term.

The デジタル大辞泉 lists the first definition of kaigai and sotoumi as synonyms for a sea that is not bound by the continent, or to the open sea that is not close to the continent. However, the second definition of kaigai, which is more metaphorical, means foreign lands, and I couldn´t find this connotation in the definitions of sotoumi. Here are the definitions for がいかい and そとうみ.

Additionally, there is the Buddhist term げかい that uses the same kanji.

Also, there is at least one person name with these kanji (とのがい).

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    そとうみ is not the most used, but when used furigana comes along side most of the time (which is what furigana.info suggests). 海外 is read かいがい 99.9% of the time. – 永劫回帰 Jul 5 at 23:25
  • You´ve got a point, I will edit the answer. – Charles Reis Ribeiro Jul 6 at 0:48

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