“Yomi” (readings) in bibliographic data for materials in Japanese

Kazue Murakami, National Diet Library, Japan

When creating bibliographic data for materials in Japanese, it is necessary to take into account the “yomi” (readings) specific to Japanese.The Japanese language is expressed using kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana and katakana, which were uniquely developed in Japan based on kanji. There are usually at least two readings for each kanji in Japan: “on-yomi”, which is the reading that came with the kanji from China, and “kun-yomi”, which is a translation of the meaning of the kanji into Japanese. The reading of a kanji is usually expressed using hiragana or katakana.In this paper, an explanation of yomi in Japanese in general will be given at first. And then, it will be introduced how yomi has been expressed mainly in the bibliographic data provision format of the National Diet Library, Japan (NDL).

What is “yomi” in Japanese?

In this section, an explanation about “yomi” in Japanese language in general is given with some examples before introducing expressions in bibliographic data.The introduction mentioned that there are usually at least two readings for kanji: on-yomi and kun-yomi. For example, the kanji “大”, which means “big”, has two on-yomi: “dai” (e.g., “重大”, pronounced as juˉ dai1) and “tai” (e.g., “大家”, pronounced as taika), as well as kun-yomi: oˉ(kii), usually written with kanji and hiragana as “大きい”.Words with the same reading may also have different meanings depending on the kanji characters used. For instance, “大家” means a great expert, “対価” means payment, and “退化” means de-generation, but the readings for are all of these are “taika”.Furthermore, even words that combine the same kanji characters may have different meanings if they are read differently. For example, when the kanji “大家” is read as “taika”, it means a great expert as mentioned above. However, when the same word is read as “oˉ ya”, it means a landlord. Therefore, when Japanese words are expressed in kanji, it can often be misleading unless their readings are also presented.As for personal names, various readings are possible even when the same kanji is used, and the same reading is not always used with the same kanji. For example, the family name “三田” is read as “Mita” or “Sanda” depending on the family. The family name “Itoˉ ” uses the kanji “伊東”, “伊藤” or “井藤” depending on the family. There can be many variations of kanji and reading pairs for given names because more freedom is allowed for them than for family names.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36253/jlis.it-450

Read Full Text: https://www.jlis.it/index.php/jlis/article/view/450

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