68

Kanji aren't necessary to write Japanese Your rationale is correct; Japanese is a living, spoken language; people are able to understand each other by sound only, therefore a writing system based on sound has to be sufficient. Some commentators have mentioned that Japanese speakers often allude to kanji when talking. That's true enough (and it probably ...


38

No. Japanese "haute cuisine" is called 懐石(料理). Mathematical analysis is 解析(学). What is true is that 懐石 and 解析 are homophones, both pronounced かいせき and, in context, both may be referred to as かいせき. However, they are not the same word. By the way, there are more homophones for かいせき, so he could have also said that "analysis" is the "same word" as bizarre ...


22

While the pronunciation is the same, the words' etymologies are unrelated. Mathematical analysis is 解析(kaiseki かいせき) while (Japanese) fine cuisine is 懐石(kaiseki かいせき). Both 解 and 析 roughly stands for "understanding", "taking apart". For example, 解説(kaisetu) means "To orally explain", 分析(bunseki) means "To analyze". On the other hand, 懐(kai) refers to ...


21

The very answer to your question is why I like Japanese so much. As you noticed a same word can be written with different kanji: that is not limited to verbs. If kanji changes meaning changes too (that is especially true concerning verbs, nouns are more subject to stylistic preferences: eg. かっこいい(casual form)・恰好良い(old form)・格好いい(normal form)). In order to ...


21

This is definitely a bit harder for native English speakers to pick up on at first, but sometimes homophones in Japanese are distinguishable by the pitch accent. So some of them aren't an issue at all. But of course some words do sound exactly the same. So how do you tell those apart? Easy: context. Kanji aren't "necessary" to distinguish between homophones;...


18

It depends on what you're writing, I would think. If you're writing a note to yourself, like "Call Suzuki-san later", of course you could guess or just write it with kana. If you're writing something to the person themselves, I tend to write it in katakana. I don't know why, but this seems to be politer, in a sort of neutral way. But this is just my ...


18

From http://dict.hjenglish.com/jp/jc/はかる 計る - to measure (quantities and in general) “計る”指计数物品的数量。转义为计划。如“计划时间”、“量体温”、“计算数量”、“筹划组织的将来”等。 (「計る」は、物の数を数えること。転じて、計画すること。「時間を計る」「体温を計る」「数量を計る」「組織の将来を計る」など。) 計る is used for counting/measuring the number of something. It can also mean "to plan". (General word for measuring things) 時間を計る - Plan a time 体温を計る - ...


17

When you type in the word, many IMEs will also display a side dictionary with supplemental information. On my PC, for 川 is says: (一般的)川が流れる、川を渡る、三途(さんず)の川. For 河, it says: (限定的)(外国の)大きな川。→川. Hence, 川 is general while 河 is limited in usage and typically represents (foreign) large rivers. In addition, 河 often refers to the Yellow River (黄河). That being the ...


13

They do have differences in usage. I've gathered a few examples that, I hope, differentiate the meanings. First, I'll try to put them in English: 上る Go up 登る Climb 昇る Ascend / rise But I don't know how helpful that is. Certainly there isn't a one-to-one mapping between those English words and those ways of writing のぼる. I think you'll get a better sense ...


13

The OP's comment just now is on the right track: 小猫 certainly could be just a small cat. 仔猫 would be more common in science, but for a different reason than you guessed: 仔 is actually the correct character for a child animal, but it's not one of the 1945 -- er, 2136 as of last year, is it? -- 常用漢字. Since 子 looks and means almost the same, it took on the ...


12

In English and most other languages, words as part of spoken language and words as part of written language are in a 1-to-1 mapping. In Japanese, 漢字 are just a means for expression, and so there exist both many-to-1 (e.g. こんじつ & きょう -> 今日) and 1-to-many (e.g. みる -> 見る, 観る, 看る, ...) mappings. To describe what 漢字 you have in mind, you usually give more ...


12

Before answering the question, I would like to clarify one thing: for most purposes, [物]{もの} and [者]{もの} are not two separate words, but a single word もの which has two kanji notations depending on its meaning. This is clearer when we consider compound words such as にせもの. When someone uses the word にせもの, it is not always clear even to the speaker whether it ...


12

When I see 聴 my mind basically jumps first to 音楽を聴く. As mentioned this has the meaning of listening to something with some sort of interest in it. You might want to connect it to the word 傾聴, which means "to listen intently," or roughly that. Of course you can use 聞く in that sentence but that kanji has a broader meaning of hearing in general. The difference ...


12

As the characters clearly suggest, 大西洋 simply refers to the big Western ocean. Not much confusion there. 太平洋, however, is an adaptation of the English "Pacific" Ocean. 太平 is a word in its own right that means roughly this: "peaceful" or "tranquil," or "pacific," if you will. According to the page linked at the bottom it had previously been known as 大東海. It ...


12

The interchangeability between [舟]{ふね} and [船]{ふね} , in theory, is close to non-existent. In real life, however, it is left to the judgement of each individual. Generally speaking, the more educated or well-read you are, the less interchangeable the two will become. In school, we are taught to use 舟 to refer to a small boat, usually (but not necessarily) ...


12

The verb 「みる」("look"/"see"/"watch") is one case of a word which can be written with one commonly-used general-purpose kanji, and sometimes with other rarer, more specific kanji. The general-purpose kanji writing is 「見る」. Any time you use 「みる」, you can be confident that you can write it 「見る」 and it will be correct (as long as it's a verb which means anything ...


12

Japanese didn't have any original letters in ancient times. Kanji was brought into Japan from China in the 3rd or 4th century. When old Japanese people adopted kanji, they called each letter as Chinese people pronounced it. While, kanji often had the meaning which matched some Japanese words, so they came to read ''山'' as やま, ''空'' as そら, ''人'' as ひと, for ...


11

父 and 乳 cannot be differentiated by pronunciation (including accentation). While the word titi "father" is attested in Old Japanese (8th century), titi "breasts" is not extant until the 17th century. However, it is more complicated than that. titi "breasts" is a reduplication of ti "breasts" which is extant in OJ. Also, titi "father" seems to be a ...


11

My dictionary lists five uses: 上げる - moving something to a higher position / status 荷物を棚に上げる Put the luggage on the shelf 利益を上げる Raise profits 上げる - give or supply something 歓声を上げる Give a cheer プレゼントを上げる Give a present 挙げる - indicate, or cause something to happen 手を挙げる Raise your hand 式を挙げる Hold a ceremony 揚げる - suspend in space, fry 国旗を揚げる Raise the ...


10

If I had to try to generalize, I'd say: 下りる is used for moving downward, including a number of metaphorical or idiomatic uses 降りる is used mainly for falling back or getting out of a vehicle But I think it helps to be more specific, so I've put together a little outline with some examples: 下りる Move downward [descend, climb down, fall, fly down, land] ...


10

I think this is actually a place where the Chinese-imported kanji obscure the usage of native Japanese words. Etymology The etymology of all these words (and 書く) is the same 和語 of かく, which has the original meaning of "scratch in" and eventually "write". Then, えをかく meant "to scratch/write a picture", which eventually became えがく. From the historical ...


9

This page on alternative renderings of kanji compounds says that in order to simplify the kanji set, some compounds which contained uncommon kanji had components replaced with common homophonous kanji. One set of changes was promulgated by the 国語審議会 in 1956, but the page also lists a number of changes which came into de facto use. 恰好→格好 is one such pair. ...


9

The act of assigning kanjis to words that ignore kanji's meaning is called 当て字 (ateji), and that has a long history. According to Wikipedia article on 当て字, this was very common in the past because the language used to rely on Kanji/Hiragana boundary to help distinguish nouns, verbs, etc from particles. The article is full of great examples like 珈琲, 滅茶苦茶, and ...


9

My favorite example is この先生きのこるには. It was originally posted in a net forum, and was intended to be read as このさき、いきのこるには (how to survive longer). But many native speakers have misread this as このせんせい、きのこるには (how does this sensei mushroom(?)), even though there is no such verb as きのこる. This sounded so funny that it soon became a piece of net slang, and ...


8

平行 can mean the same thing as 並行 in the second sense (物事が同時に行われる), so it does not encompass 並行 completely. For example, 電車と並行して走る should not use 平行 (although don't be surprised if you see the two mixed up). However, just look at the characters, the 並 of 並行 can be seen in words like 並ぶ while the 平 of 平行 can be seen in words like 平面. So, in general, 平行 is ...


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