漢字: Chinese characters as used in Japanese writing as opposed to the two kana syllabaries and romaji Latin letters.

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5answers
729 views

When do you use 下さい as opposed to ください

I've noticed that there seems to be different usage for 下さい and ください. Is this purely a personal preferences or is there an actual difference their usage? This was actually a question the Japanese ...
24
votes
6answers
877 views

Why are some lyrics' words written in kanji whose usual reading is not how it is sung?

Some song lyrics in the official lyric book that accompanies the CD is sung as another word. Usually, the way it is sung is given as a furigana on the kanji: Written: 君が希望に変わってゆく          ...
21
votes
1answer
429 views

How is the wind related to illness?

I've seen the kanji 風 appear in several different illnesses: 風邪 (a cold), 中風 (paralysis), and 痛風 (gout). Conceivably there may be others, but I haven't seen them. What does the wind have to do with ...
19
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4answers
6k views

What is 「々」 and how does it affect meaning and pronunciation?

I've seen this symbol in various places, such as 「日々」, 「色々」, and 「人々」. What is it, and how does it affect the meaning and pronunciation of the word?
18
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4answers
539 views

What are the origins of ヶ?

The ヶ in e.g. 一ヶ月 is a bit of an odd character - it looks a lot like a small version of the katakana ケ, but is it derived from that katakana originally? Or is it a normal kanji? Or is it something ...
18
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3answers
694 views

Stroke order for left and right

Why are the stroke orders for 右 and 左 different? 右 starts with the vertical stroke, and 左 starts with the horizontal one.
18
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4answers
517 views

Words made from strokes of a kanji like 女 toくノ一

According to Wikipedia, one theory for the etymology of くノ一 (female ninja) is that it's made up of the strokes of the kanji 女 (woman). Other theories include that it means nine and one, talking about ...
18
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4answers
2k views

Distinguishing certain characters in handwriting and print (Similar-looking Kana and Kanji)

Japanese has some sets of characters which look very similar or even identical. Obviously, context is usually more than enough to distinguish which character is intended, but I'm wondering if there ...
17
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2answers
596 views

When writing for general public, is there a general guideline for selecting kanji?

After reading numerous publications, I've spotted a trend or custom on determining whether kanji is or is not used for certain words. The most obvious ones are: こと・事 …が実は犯人だったということがわかる。 ...
17
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1answer
430 views

How did 革 “leather” come to mean newness?

How did the character for "leather" - [革]{かわ / カク} - come to also convey the meaning for "newness"? 広辞苑 lists one of the definitions (under かく) as あらたまること, あらためること, and we can see this in some of its ...
16
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3answers
680 views

Kanji for native Japanese concepts: Kun'yomi spanning multiple morphemes

There are a few words, which are written with Kanji imported from China, but where the intended native Japanese meaning would prefer a different choice of Kanji. My favourite examples are 雷 vs. 神鳴り ...
16
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2answers
874 views

When and how did USA and UK come to be written as [米]{べい}[国]{こく} and [英]{えい}[国]{こく}?

I know of four countries with a specific kanji besides Japan: China, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. The last two must be quite recent (I presume 19th century) but I wonder on the details and context ...
15
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2answers
459 views

Why does 語 contain 五?

I'm aware the two kanji are often pronounced the same, but why does one contain the other in it?
15
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2answers
601 views

Use of 厨 on the Internet

If you visit ニコニコ動画 or any Japanese message boards often you are bound to see comments like ニコ厨 or 東方厨. Does anyone have good idea how did this originate and what do they mean?
15
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2answers
782 views

What's the difference between the kanji forms for わかる?

The verb わかる can be written using either 分かる, 判る, or 解る - what's the semantic difference between these forms, if any?
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4answers
2k views

Can a Japanese person understand something written in traditional Chinese

If I didn't know any japanese, could I potentially communicate with Japanese people just by writing in traditional Chinese? I've heard and seen this in movies, how true is this?
14
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2answers
1k views

Are all kanji compounds considered words?

A friend once commented to me that Japanese has a larger vocabulary than English. I said I didn't think it did, because it wasn't really accurate to call all kanji compounds "words". My friend said I ...
14
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5answers
1k views

Are there any old loanwords from Korean, especially any not written in katakana?

Given the close proximity and long history of interaction of various kinds within East Asia, the great influence of Chinese in both Japanese and Korean, and the similar structures of Japanese and ...
14
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3answers
396 views

What is the difference between 蔵, 倉, and 庫?

The word 【くら】 can be written with any of the kanji 蔵, 倉, or 庫. However, WWWJDIC lists them all under one entry, defined as: (n) warehouse; cellar; magazine; granary; godown; depository; treasury; ...
14
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1answer
791 views

Is there a list of kanji ordered by usage in novels?

I have found many lists of kanji ordered by their usage in newspapers, but are there any lists that order by their usage in novels and other fictional material? This might be useful to have because ...
14
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4answers
750 views

The significance of 前 {まえ} in Japanese language and culture

I noticed that the 前 is a handy kanji character in Japanese language. It is used in many words including but not limited to: 名前 {なまえ} : Given name 手前, お前 : You 当たり前 {あたりまえ} : Natural, ...
13
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5answers
2k views

Why are there two versions of the kanji for "tsumetai'?

The screenshot below is from Kotoba for iPhone. It shows the character for "cool", as used in the word "tsumetai". However, the character in the stroke order diagram is slightly different to the ...
13
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2answers
507 views

Splitting Kanji and okurigana at the end of the line

A question was asked on the Linguistics Stack Exchange about the oriental languages. The title was the following: How are line breaks handled in ideographic scripts? The answer made me think, and I ...
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2answers
1k views

Which kanji to use for saying ありがとうございます in emails?

When sending emails, I've noticed that Japanese colleagues use all sorts of kanji/kana combinations for the simple phrases ありがとうございました and よろしくおねがいいたします. For example: ありがとうございました 有難うございました ...
13
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1answer
844 views

Are kanji characters made up of radicals only or could they contain strokes that are not radicals?

Inspired by this question of rounded or circular strokes in kanji, I got an idea to prove that there is no circular strokes in kanji by examining all kanji radicals, which is a lot less that examining ...
13
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2answers
715 views

What is the difference in nuance and usage of the two kanji forms for なおす (naosu), 直す and 治す?

Stolen directly from Grigory M's question in the definition phase: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/7526?phase=definition
13
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2answers
669 views

What rules are there regarding the role a radical plays in a kanji (such as telling us about the kanji's reading or meaning)?

Are there certain rules for knowing what role a radical plays in a kanji? I've heard sometimes a radical tells us about how to read the kanji, and sometimes it tells us the meaning of the kanji. But ...
13
votes
1answer
783 views

What is the difference between “河” and “川”?

I saw the first (河) used for "Hippopotamus", literally mimicking the Greek name (River Horse) but I expected to see 川 in its place... Also, apparently you can use "河川" to mean river*s* (plural)? But ...
13
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1answer
2k views

Words/characters for fast food meal sizes: 並, 大, 特

When dining at Yoshinoya I never know how to ask for the size meal I want. Their sizes are 並, 大, and 特. I only know that "大" means big, but it also has two readings so I have no idea whether to ask ...
13
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1answer
452 views

Do native speakers consciously use phonetic elements in 形声文字?

Do native speakers of Japanese use phonetic elements when reading less common kanji? For example, does the compound 咆哮 look like ほうこう because of the elements 包 and 孝, even if you haven't learned to ...
13
votes
1answer
713 views

What is the role of 空書 (writing kanji in the air) in modern Japanese?

What is the role of 空書{くうしょ} in modern Japanese? 空書 is tracing characters in the air with your finger (or on a flat surface), a phenomenon which apparently develops only in users of Chinese ...
12
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3answers
1k views

Why is 「昨夜」 pronounced as 「ゆうべ」 {yuube} and 「今日」 as 「きょう」 {kyou}?

「ゆう」 is neither the kun'yomi nor on'yomi of 「昨」 and 「べ」 is not a pronunciation of 「夜」 either. The same can be said about the pronunciation 「きょう」 for 「今日」. So how come the pronunciations of the two ...
12
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4answers
824 views

How do I look up this kanji?

I have found a kanji in a manga I am attempting to read, that looks like this: I have tried to find it in numerous dictionaries, and used multiple different methods. I know the third section is a ...
12
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4answers
255 views

History of 十干(じっかん)and modern uses

As I was studying vocabulary today, I happened to come across the titular 十干 which are as follows: 甲(こう)• 乙(おつ)• 丙(へい)• 丁(てい) •戊(ぼ)• 己(き)• 庚(こう)• 辛(しん)• 壬(じん)• 癸(き) There's a somewhat lengthy ...
12
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2answers
603 views

Recent creation or adoption of hanzi characters into Japanese kanji

According to Wikipedia, kanji was introduced and imported from chinese hanzi long time ago before Japanese language even had a writing system. From there, Japanese kanji has transformed and evolved ...
12
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2answers
1k views

How close was the Japanese writing system from becoming abolished after World War II?

I remember hearing that the Japanese government planned on abolishing the use of Chinese characters entirely after World War II. I also remember hearing that there was a movement by the American ...
12
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2answers
961 views

Which is the “official” kanji for さい, 歳 or 才?

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?
12
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2answers
425 views

On the replacing of kanji made obsolete in the 1946 reforms with similar-looking kanji.

This is my understanding but please correct me if some of my details are wrong: In 1946 the Japanese language underwent a reform and standardization process A set of 1850 kanji were made official ...
12
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4answers
483 views

What determines whether a word gets a kanji compound or katakana?

I read electronics/computing articles, and I find an incredible amount of terms are written either in kanji (almost similar to Chinese) or katakana. There are times when it's confusing as to know why. ...
12
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2answers
1k views

Why is 空【くう】, and not 無【む】, used to define “void”, “emptiness” in a buddhist context? What are their nuances?

Feel free to participate to the meta-discussion on whether this type of question (relying on buddhist terms) should be allowed on JLU. A while back, looking at a reproduction of some famous zen ...
12
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1answer
691 views

Names for strokes

What do we call the different types of strokes of kanji/kana in Japanese? For example, in Chinese the left-downward stroke is called 撇[piě] and the right-downward stroke is called 捺[nà]. And if I ...
11
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6answers
3k views

What's with this “On reading”/“Kun reading” thing? Is it important to learn both as a beginner?

I was reading this article on Japanese numerals and I first encountered the whole On reading/Kun reading thing, with an additional column on "Preferred reading," which was almost always the On ...
11
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5answers
4k views

Japanese kanji with different meanings in Chinese

湯 in Japanese refers to "hot water." In Chinese, it means "soup." How common are kanji with different meanings in Chinese? Also, why do differences occur in the first place? Were the meanings in both ...
11
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5answers
1k views

Is there an objective source of the origins of kanji?

Is there an authoritative source that explains where the different kanji come from and what the radicals mean? I think it's hard to tell from most of the textbooks/other sources whether a shown ...
11
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3answers
2k views

About writing numbers using Japanese numerals vs using Arabic numerals

I noticed that even though Japanese language has kanji characters for numbers (e.g. 十、百、千、万 etc), there are many places where Arabic numerals are used instead, for example, prices for shop items are ...
11
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3answers
689 views

不 and 非 and 無 and 未 usage difference/rule

Is there any rules that govern when to use 不 and 非 and 無 and 未 in regards to the meaning of "not" or "un-" for instance 非表示, 不満 
11
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4answers
2k views

When Chinese personal names are written in Japanese in kanji is there always an obvious reading?

In their comment to an answer on the question "Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana rather than Romaji?", user sawa says: ... Chinese names should be written in kanji rather than ...
11
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3answers
789 views

Why censor this one kanji?

I was watching an old Saturday Night Live sketch from the 1970s, called Night of the Moonies, making fun of the Unification Church by putting them in the context of the movie Night of the Living Dead. ...
11
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2answers
279 views

What exactly is 「だらし」?

WWWJDIC states that 「だらしない」 can be written with kanji as 「だらし無い」, which suggests that the phrase is a negative construction that uses 「無い」, unlike words like 「すくない」 and 「あぶない」. Furthermore, 「だらしが無い」 ...
11
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6answers
415 views

Computer: 計算機 or 計算器?

What is the difference between the two kanji variants for 「けいさんき」, the other word for 「コンピューター」? 計算器 計算機