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As I'm encountering more words with rendaku, I thought I started to understand it, but I came across an example that does not make sense to me.

Why is 気 voiced き in 元気 and 本気, but is voiced ぎ in 一本気 ? In other words, why is there no rendaku in 本気 ?

From other questions, I see that there is some unpredictability about rendaku… but those words are really close to one another.

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    Not entirely sure, but I suspect part of why you're seeing a difference there is that 一本気【いっぽんぎ】 is 一本【いっぽん】 + suffix 気【き】, and suffixes tend to be more susceptible to rendaku. Meanwhile, 本気【ほんき】 is 本【ほん】 + 気【き】 where 気 is the head or main noun, and 本 is used here semantically (meaning-wise) as an adjective modifying that noun -- I think we don't see rendaku here because 気 is the head noun. – Eiríkr Útlendi Feb 2 at 17:11
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Rendaku occurs when two independent words come together to form a compound. I think 一本気 is a compound, while 本気 and 元気 are not. (Just because they are analyzable as 本+気 and 元+気 doesn't mean they are compounds. 元 and 本 are not independent words, unless you mean "a book" by 本.) Also, Sino-Japanese words don't normally participate in rendaku. In that sense, 一本気 is exceptional.

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