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I have seen both used like 笑颜 and 笑顔 to mean smile (noun). afaik both are pronouced as えがお (somebody correct me if I'm wrong, ビギナーだ).

So what exactly is the difference?

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a Chinese character not used in Japanese –  ssb Apr 15 at 4:39
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People just starting to learn Japanese may not know how to identify Chinese Chinese characters as opposed to ones used in Japanese; ergo I'm in favor of leaving it be and helping people learn by pointing it out. –  Kaji Apr 15 at 5:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think is the simplified Chinese form of , and that it generally is only used in simplified Chinese (and that it isn't really used in Japanese), but they both have the same meaning.

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If this is a handwritten form, as far as I know 颜 could also be used in Japanese, just as 门 (for 門) is used in Japanese handwriting. But if it is a printed form it is definitely Simplified Chinese.

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I've never actually seen 门 used in written Japanese, though when writing 門 quickly (and messily =)) it may start to look like something similar. –  rintaun Apr 27 '12 at 14:08
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@rintaun I have ever seen it a lot and actually write it sometimes. It is very common. –  Gradius Aug 7 '12 at 8:01
    
The phenomenon is called 略字, where abbreviated forms of characters are used in writing. I've sen it get pretty wild at times, even going so far as to include Latin characters at times (e.g. "K" as a phonetic element for characters that are pronounced けい). –  Kaji Apr 15 at 5:51

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