1

I'll elaborate the title with a scenario. If I was, say, in a scenario where I was talking about my favorite kanji, and said "Oh, my favorite kanji is 悪" how do I pronounce 悪 in that scenario? あく? わる? Any of its other on or kun'yomi readings?

In short, I'm asking...when referring to some kanji character by itself in a conversation, which reading is most appropriate?

3

You should use the most distinguishable reading, and the kun-reading is usually better for this purpose, although there can be exceptions. In your case, saying わるい can safely specify which kanji you are referring to, but the on-reading あく is shared by another easy kanji (握). Many on-readings are worse (e.g., ひょう = 表, 票, 評, 豹, 標, 雹, ...). Note that even kun-readings can have homophones (e.g., はな = 花, 鼻; はなす = 話, 離, 放).

When you cannot think of a distinct reading (which is very common), you can give a compound or a set phrase as an example using の meaning "as in". For example, you can say 善悪の悪 to refer to 悪, or say 握手の握 to refer to 握 over the phone.

See this answer for alternative methods to convey kanji in speech: Japanese don't learn kanji meaning only readings? Does it make sense for a kanji to have a key meaning to identify it?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.