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Well if I'm not wrong, usually when a word has multiple kanjis one of them is selected as the "main" or more commonly used one.

But is it true that 才 and 歳 are both the "main" kanji for さい?

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Watch out because one "sound" can be used for two words. Compare English "bow" and "bough". This is different to two ways to write a word that always has the same sound, like "draft" and "draught". Both situations are more common in Japanese than in English, and the same sound can have both multiple words and multiple spellings of the same word. This might not be the case for さい but is worth considering for questions of this type. –  hippietrail Mar 31 at 4:35
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2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

It seems that 歳 is the "official"character for the age, even though both it and 才 are reglementary (常用漢字). However, it is too difficult for the pupils (小学生) who are supposed to learn it since it's a very common word. Therefore, the different (but not simplified) character 才 is taught instead so that they can learn a necessary character until they see the "hard" one a few years later.

So, the "official" one would be 歳. Same goes for 令 instead of 齢

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thanks, btw what do you mean by different (but not simplified) character ? –  Pacerier Jul 10 '11 at 20:31
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@Pacerier He means that 才 is not a simplified version of 歳, but rather, simply an unrelated character entirely -- at least, that's how I understood it. :) –  rintaun Jul 11 '11 at 0:15
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@Pacerier: No official list for shorthands, even though some are common. Have a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryakuji which may be more accessible for you and others than the Japanese page. –  Axioplase Jul 12 '11 at 6:04
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Students and professors in the law department use "木又" (as a single character) for "権". Universiry dormitories "[寮]{りょう}" are sometimes written as "宀 R" (vertically aligned as a single character). I have also seen "广K" (as a single character) used to mean "[慶]{けい}" of Keio University. –  sawa Nov 13 '11 at 23:55
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Adding a new comment to a really old conversation, but I have seen 魔 as in 魔法 written with 广+マ too –  ssb Jun 26 at 1:12
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I agree with Axioplase, but is also とし, which is also the same reading for .

If I say, "Because I'm getting old," I will use 歳{とし}だから

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@Dave M G Thank you very much!It seems that I need more practice of English :) –  meeming Jun 26 at 2:20
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