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Phonetic components in Japanese characters
Japanese characters (hereafter referred to as kanji) give clues as to how their phonetic compounds are pronounced. Up until now, teachers and students of kanji have been expected to somehow connect the seemingly arbitrary assembly of strokes of kanji to the sounds of words that they refer to by rote memorization. However, this thesis will demonstrate that the reader can rely in a practical way on phonetic components to practically search for the pronunciation. A phonetic component is part of any compound character. In a compound kanji character, one component gives a clue about the meaning of the whole compound character and the other component gives a clue about the phonetic form. Studying phonetic components in kanji has the potential to revolutionize the teaching and learning of kanji, because the phonetic component is an implicit mnemonic for its pronunciation. What this thesis attempts to argue is that semantic components alone offer a somewhat limited, and unbalanced learning process for students. Particularly, when a kanji character has many complicated strokes, it may be burdensome to memorize its sound as its radical does not provide a hint for its pronunciation. Through the utilization of both phonetic components and semantic components together, teachers can offer students multiple ways to break up kanji into meaningful units. Students can relate a particular graphic element to either its sound or its meaning, making it more likely that the student will remember it and use it correctly in the future. Further, by using phonetic components, teachers of kanji can help their students save much effort that is required for rote memorization of pronunciation. The thesis includes a list of 146 phonetic components, which was garnered from 2,230 kanji characters in the Japanese dictionary. The list is classified into five categories, ranging from phonetic components that are completely regular to those that are completely irregular.
Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2011
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