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At my old job, I knew someone by the name of Takahashi (last name).

Sometimes I'd see their name spelled 高橋 and sometimes 髙橋.

Why was 高 sometimes used and why was 髙 sometimes used?

Thanks!

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3  
Had a colleague with exactly the same name and he often encouraged people to save time by using the "simpler" spelling (with 高) if whatever input device they were using did not have the other less common kanji readily available. –  Dave Aug 6 at 5:01
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On the other hand, there are quite a few people who take pride in having those alternative forms in their names, too. It's safe to treat them as different characters, whenever reasonably possible. –  naruto Aug 6 at 9:10

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The short answer is that 髙, or 「はしごたか」, is an alternate form of 高, and as such some people might use it. It does not represent a new/old character relationship (新字体・旧字体), however 髙 could have been a hand-written form.

Apparently, though, this character is a little special, and it seems as though you're not technically allowed to use it in names. This article put out on the website of 三省堂, a prominent Japanese dictionary publishing company, comments on the character's history. It seems that 髙 was originally proposed as a form to consolidate and make consistent the characters used in printing type (活字字体). There was, however, a concurrent movement to reduce the stroke order and complexity of characters in the 当用漢字, the precursor to 常用漢字, and the change was scrapped. There were various revisions and updates to the naming standards, but the new printed version "髙" was continually left out (despite continued attempts to use it).

Other places say that the 髙 form existed as a hand-written form, and that now that 高 is standardized, 髙 is relegated to the status of "俗字."

So with your previous colleague, my guess is that they wanted to use 髙, or maybe that it was in the past or something. It's hard to type now as well, which would make it even more likely for someone to use 高 instead.

If my understanding is correct, then this person's name is officially registered with 高 instead. The alternate form does not appear on the 人名用漢字表 either in the standard kanji or in the approved alternate forms.

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It was the symbol for Takashimaya dept store. You still see it around although it is all but eliminated from their website and on their wikipeida page there is a note: 「本来の表記は「髙島屋」です。この記事に付けられた題名は記事名の制約から不正確なものとなっています。」 –  Tim Aug 6 at 9:29

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