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Grammar detail: 連濁(れんだく)

連濁(れんだく) - voicing of first consonant in second part of a compound word
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Often when two words or kanji are combined to make a new word, the first consonant of the second item will be changed from unvoiced to voiced. This concept is known as rendaku, or sometimes 'sequential voicing'.
'Voicing' of a consonant refers to the idea of making the sound by obstructing airflow in your throat. For example, 'k' is unvoiced (the sound is made in the back of the mouth), and 'g' is the voiced version (the sound comes from the throat).
For example:
  • k becomes g, as in
    ものごころ
    物心
  • s becomes z, as in
    あおぞら
    青空
  • t becomes d, as in
    ときどき
    時々
  • h becomes b, as in
    ひとびと
    人々
    , or sometimes p or even pp, as in
    きっ
    ぱら
There are some situations where the second word is left unchanged. For example:
  • Gairaigo (loan words) do not change, as in アイス + コーヒー = アイスコーヒー
  • When the second word already contains a voiced consonant, as in
    やまかじ
    山火事
    (mountain fire), or
    たぬきそば
    狸蕎麦
    . This is known as Lyman's Law
  • When the word is of entirely Japanese origin, as in
    ほあんけんさ
    保安検査
    (safety inspection), or
    よこはま
    横浜
  • When the compound word means A and B together, rather than A's B. So for example 山川 would be read やまがわ when it refers to 'a mountain river', but as やまかわ when it refers to 'mountains and rivers' (actually with this meaning it is more commonly read さんせん to avoid confusion)
  • When the second word is already a compound word
  • Certain specific kanji tend not to be voiced. For example, in
    わるくち
    悪口
    ,
    ひとくち
    一口
    , and
    むくち
    無口
    , the 口 remains くち
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Kanji used in this grammar

ブツ   モツ   もの thing   
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シン   こころ heart   
セイ   ショウ   あお-    あお blue   
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クウ   から empty   あ to be empty   あける to empty, vacate   そら sky   
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ジ   とき time, occasion   
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(kanji repetition symbol)   
ジン   ニン   ひと person   
フク   はら stomach, abdomen   
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サン   やま mountain   
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カ   fire   ひ    ほ-    
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ジ   ズ   こと thing; matter   
たぬき raccoon   
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そば buckwheat   
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バク   むぎ wheat, barley   
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ホ   たも to protect, safeguard   
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アン   やす peaceful; cheap   
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ケン    investigation   
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サ    investigation   
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オウ   よこ side   
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ヒン   はま seashore, sands   
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セン   かわ river   
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アク   オ   わる bad   
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コウ   ク   くち mouth   
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イチ   イツ   ひと    ひと- one   
ム   ブ   な not   
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