Kaeru ga kaeru (A Frog is Going Home)

[日本語]

Kisha no kisha ga kisha de kisha shita.

This sentence is correct and means a reporter in your company came back to the company by train. As you can see, there are huge numbers of homophones in Japanese. For example, “こうせい(kousei)” is one of the words which has lots of homophones. The words below are all pronounced as kousei, but differ in meaning.

構成(composition), 厚生(public welfare), 攻勢(thrust), 抗生(antibiotic) , and lot more.

If it’s in Hiragana, it’s impossible to judge the meaning without looking at the context it’s used in. Selecting correct kanji is confusing, but it’s necessary to make yourself understood correctly. Otherwise sentences don’t make any sense…here are some examples explaining why.

Kaeru can be 帰る(go home) or 蛙(frog)

Oshokujiken can be 汚職事件(corruption scandal) or お食事券(a meal voucher)

Homophones are tricky for native speakers, as well as Japanese learners. That’s why a Kanji test is included in the entrance exams for university and even for jobs. According to Wikipedia, it is „こうしょう(koushou)“ that has the largest numbers of homophones in Japanese. It can be written in over 20 different kanji. Why are there so many homophones? The reason is because Japanese pronunciation is too simple for the enormous quantity of vocabulary.

Out of these homophones, many jokes are made that play on words linking numbers and words. i.e. 7 (na), 5 (go), 8 (ya)…758 (Nagoya)!. The reason why number 4 is regarded as an unlucky number is it has the same pronunciation as “death”. Likewise, 5-yen coin is widely used to make an offering at shrines, as both 5-yen and “ご縁goen (having a good chance)” are pronounced in the same way. People wish to have good luck by throwing a 5-yen coin.

Additionally, both of the English words “right” and “light” are written as „ライト“. Sometimes one Japanese word has to double with 2 different English words. It happens quite often when trying to write foreign words in Japanese…in this way, Japanese homophones are increasing every moment. Catch up with them by trying this quiz !

You might also like: