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What is the general etiquette about about using the newer characters (新字体) or even a more modern version of the old character (旧字体) when used in names? Is it generally considered rude?

For example, my partner's family name is 濵 which is often somewhat problematic to type into a computer and so I often see it just replaced with 濱 (you might have to look close to see the difference) or sometimes even with the new character, 浜.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This site about wedding manners specifically says it is rude to mistake the characters of people's names.

名前を書く際は、旧字体、人名外字などを間違えて失礼とならないように何度もチェックしてください。

Also, if you are willing to accept this as evidence: 人名外字1500V4

This is a program and collection of fonts specifically for rare/old kanji names. It costs ¥50000. I don't think they would be able to charge that if no one thought it mattered.

Also, as I said in my comment to Tim's answer

When I worked in Kochi City Hall I saw somebody using a font editor to modify 告 into the character known as つちよし (吉 in which the 士 is 土). I think it was going to be printed on an invitation or something like that so they went through the trouble of manually editing the font.

However, all the information I could find was about weddings, funerals, and invitations to formal events. So, it seems to me that in a general, everyday context 常用漢字 have been acceptable in informal correspondence. But as phones and other devices become able to display more characters, this attitude may change.

That leaves business correspondence. If I had to send an email to someone I knew on a business level only, I would be sure to write their name with the correct character. Where that is not technologically possible, I would use a character that is displayable and ask them about it later.

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My wife also has somewhat specialized characters for her maiden name but she has never objected to the use of standard characters (jouyou kanji) and, as long as it is typical assumption ("abbreviation", generalisation") then I think most are quite prepared to accept it.

The sensitive area is when names get recorded in public datebases for wealthfare records. There was big problem several years ago when (if I remember correctly) it became apparant that peoples records for pensions etc had been lost because the inputters had been assuming the wrong readings. Several colleagues of mine made a point of obtaining their orange kokuminnenkin book and going to the ward office to ensure their records were complete.

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I agree with the above answer, but here is some extra info based on my experience. When I worked in Kochi City Hall I saw somebody using a font editor to modify 告 into the character known as つちよし (吉 in which the 士 is 土). I think it was going to be printed on an invitation or something like that so they went through the trouble of manually editing the font. –  By137 Oct 22 '12 at 19:35
    
Thanks for you answer. However I suppose I was hoping for more of a general answer rather than a anecdotal one. –  paullb Oct 24 '12 at 1:13
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