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為替 is a money order or exchange rate. How did they pick these two kanji? From what I can tell, it's not kunyomi, onyomi, ateji, or gikun.

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From http://gogen-allguide.com/ka/kawase.html this is the relevant part:


So apparently is is just ateji that happens to have meaning that matches the word.

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It can't really be called ateji if the sound doesn't match. This is an example of gikun. – Zhen Lin Jul 16 '13 at 1:34
I'm just going by what the site says. As blutorange mentions the term 当て字 doesn't refer exclusively to choosing kanji based on sound. – ssb Jul 16 '13 at 5:09

To add to ssb's explanation, what is usually called ateji are actually two phenomena: 当て字 (音): to use kanji only for their sound, eg 矢鱈 義訓 (訓): to use kanji for their meaning, and assign a fitting word to the kanji (compound), eg 為替

It's often not necessary to distinguish between these two methods (of writing words), but it's something to keep in mind.

Also, 為替 is the 連用形 of 交わす.

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Do you mean the 連用形 of 交わせる? – dainichi Jul 16 '13 at 5:55
日本国語大辞典(精選版) かわせ【為替・交】 (動詞「かわす(交)」「かわす(為替)」の連用形の名詞化) (1) 取り交わすこと。 (2)(中世は「かわし」という。) ... dic.yahoo.co.jp/… – blutorange Jul 16 '13 at 14:30
Ah, it says "《中世に用いられた「かわし(為替)」の音変化》", that makes sense. – dainichi Jul 17 '13 at 2:56

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