Kan'on is a Japanese name for the goddess Guanyin.

Kan-on (漢音, lit. "Han sound") is one of the sources of pronunciation of Japanese kanji. They were borrowed during the Tang dynasty (7th to 9th century), introduced by, among others, envoys from Japanese missions to Tang China. This period corresponds with the Japanese Nara period. Not to be confused with Tō-on "Tang sound", which actually refers to later phonetic loans.

Kan-on is based on the central Chang'an pronunciation.[1] The name Kan could refer to the Han dynasty, which also had Chang'an as its capital city.[1] Furthermore, Kan has also become a description for all things Chinese, e.g., Kanji ('Chinese characters').

Kan'on partly displaced the earlier go'on, which were "just imitations of Korean imitations, but Kan-on were imitations of the real things."[1]

A minority of characters never had their Kan-on transmitted to Japan; their Kan-on are sometimes reconstructed in Japanese dictionaries although not specifically marked as such. Sometimes actually attested Kan-on might even be discarded in favour of more systematic pronunciations in dictionaries.[1]

Characteristics as compared to Go-on

In consonants

type unvoiced / voiced voiced / nasal zi- / ni- or zy- / ny-
example 二児人刃
Kan-onɕintaitotɕifunfutsu dandʑo dyobanbibu dʑidʑindʑitsudʑodʑaku
Go-ondʑindaidodʑibunbutsu nannjomanmimu nininnitɕinjonjaku
notes d- / n- b- / m- Mandarin r-, er

In vowels

type * / -e -ei / -ai * / -u
examples 会絵快怪仮家下夏 西斉体帝 公工口豆頭右有九久
Kan-on ikigiaikaiくゎい kwaiぐゎいgwaikaくゎ sotodoiukiuriu
Go-on ekegeegeue/wekegekegeege saitaimairai suzunurzuukuru
Notes Mandarin -i
Type -i- / -o- -e- / -o- -a- / -o- -a- / -ya- -yoku / -iki
Examples 音隠今金 遠園言厳 色拭
Kan-on inkinhinitsukitsu uen/wenkengenuetsu/wetsu hanhatsu kaukakuhaku ɕokutɕokurjoku
Go-on onkonhonotsukotsu won/onkongonochi/wochi honhotsu gyougyakubyaku ɕikidʑikidʑikiriki
Type -e- / -ya- others
Examples 京経正生性声省精成静丁挺平病名命明 石赤 文聞
Kan-on ekisekireki giugetsusatsubun
Go-on kjōgjōɕōdʑōtɕōdʑōhyōmjōrjō jakuɕjakudʑakurjaku ryakugogwatsusetsumon
Notes Mandarin -ing zheng, cheng, sheng
Japanese vowels

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Miyake, Marc Hideo (2003). Old Japanese: A Phonetic Reconstruction. Routledge. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-134-40373-8.

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