76

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 ...


41

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 ...


23

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 ...


23

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 ...


23

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;...


17

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 - ...


15

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 ...


13

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 ...


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

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

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 ...


11

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 ...


9

Basically 守る is the more general and common word for "protecting, guarding, or keeping someone / something." The 訓読み 「[護る]{まもる}」 is not listed in 常用漢字表 (thus it's not taught in schools), and it can be only specifically used to protect/guard something from foreign attacks. 約束{やくそく}を守る (keep a promise): Good 約束を護る: Not good 秘密{ひみつ}を守る (keep a secret): Good ...


9

Broadly speaking, 云う seems to be somewhat more old-fashioned in use. It appears with some frequency in Natsume Soseki's works, but not so much in recent publications, which use 言う instead. The Weblio page giving the Daijirin entry show that the 言う spelling is jōyō, while the 云う spelling is not (the black downward-pointing triangle indicates non-jōyō ...


9

Broadly speaking, the words can be broken up as follows: 止まる{とまる} and 止める{とめる} 止む{やむ} and 止める{やめる} 止まる{とどまる} and 止める{とどめる} Exceptions: 止す{よす} and 止す{さす} The first three groups are made up of pairs where the first is intransitive, and the second is transitive. The fourth group contains two verbs that lack this pattern. For the first group (止まる{とまる}/止める{とめる})...


8

Yes you are right, 匂い and 香り is always for good smells like from flowers, food, etc, whereas 臭い is mostly for undesirable smells. But sometimes 臭い is neutral, which case I think your example falls into. BTW that jisho.org page you cited seems to be a little confusing, because it lists [臭]{にお}い (noun) and [臭]{くさ}い (adjective) jumbled together. So, just be ...


8

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 ...


8

Better use kana instead of some weird or wrong kanji if you're not certain In natural languages, the meaning of words are often extended, changed and modified to fit the speakers needs. Just look up some basic verbs in an English dictionary. When two of these meanings are far enough apart, we can call it two separate words, and it makes sense to use a ...


8

Maybe you know that to say "to take a pill" in Japanese you would say 丸薬をのむ. (I did not put the kanji of のむ intentionally). 飲む is used to say to drink. I mean, to absorb a liquid through your mouth like "to drink water, syrup, beer, ..." On the other side 呑む is used more to mean to swallow. It can be figurative or not. 涙{なみだ}を呑{の}む (to refrain one's anger),...


7

This has an entry in the 異字同訓漢字の使い分け例. My answer will basically just be a quick translation and notes on that entry. 【堅い】中身が詰まっていて強い。確かである。 堅い材木。堅い守り。手堅い商売。合格は堅い。口が堅い。堅苦しい。 【固い】結び付きが強い。揺るがない。 団結が固い。固い友情。固い決意。固く信じる。頭が固い。 【硬い】(⇔軟らかい)。外力に強い。こわばっている。 硬い石。硬い殻を割る。硬い表現。表情が硬い。選手が緊張で硬くなっている。 堅 is for stuff that's strong or certain. Stiff, as you say, ...


7

You already know the dictionary meanings. All of these とる variants listed here are understood by most Japanese adults. In general, using certain uncommon 同訓異字 verbs, such as 啼く (vs 鳴く), 護る (vs 守る), 淹れる (vs 入れる), can sometimes do more harm than good in daily practice. It's unnecessarily difficult and too poetic. You probably know this risk. However, NHK does ...


7

Your understanding is correct. 速い refers to one's speed and 早い refers to time. However, 早い has more uses than just meaning early. Check: How to distinguish between the meanings of "quickly", "soon" and "early" for 早く. 早く来る would mean coming quickly with the focus on getting there on time, not particularly on getting there with ...


7

Both words have the same reading and pitch accent, so there wouldn't be a difference in pronunciation.


7

There is no difference in pitch accent between 鉄拳 and 鉄剣, so it purely depends on which word is more familiar to laypeople. Neither is particularly common in daily life, but IMO 鉄拳 is a little bit more familiar because there is a word 鉄拳制裁, which is used outside gaming or history contexts. "Iron sword" is usually referred to simply as 鉄の剣. It's ...


6

Indeed there are very many words like this, but here is my favourite example. Consider the following statement about a choir: 女声は下手、男声は上手! It might mean that the men are more skilled than the ladies (reading the characters as [下手]{へた}・[上手]{じょうず}) but actually more likely tells them which side of the stage to come on from ([下手]{しもて}・[上手]{かみて}).


6

There are a number of words like this. The most obvious one that comes to mind is 方, which can be read かた (polite "person") or ほう ("alternative", perhaps). Another example is 青山, which can be read あおやま ("a lush mountain") or せいざん ("a lush mountain" OR [metaphorically] "where one dies"). Also 心中, which can be read しんちゅう ("one's heart" or something like that) ...


6

The expression 「[目]{め}を[細]{ほそ}める」 (with 目, not [眼]{め}) already has two meanings to begin with. Literal: "to squint" Figurative: "to smile in delight (at the sight of something/someone one is fond of)" Which one it means should be clear from the context as the two meanings are quite different from each other. However, some people would ...


6

Check out this site for some kanji etymology. I've posted the results there. 産 : 生 (Type 2 Phonetic) birth; life + an abbreviated form of 彦 (handsome/well-formed) → (well-formed), locally grown, life-sustaining product → produce; production; local product/material (that sustains life) → one's birthplace → childbirth. 生 : SIS shows an abbreviated form (Type ...


6

Keywords: MC, Middle Chinese; OC, Old Chinese: MJ: Middle Japanese; OJ, Old Japanese; 呉, Go'on; 漢, Kan'on; 唐, Tō-on; /(absence of superscript)/ or 平, level tone; /X/ or 上, rising tone; /H/ or 去, departing tone; /p̚/, /t̚/, /k̚/, or 入, entering or checked tone* On'yomi homophones are numerous, but the loss of syllable distinction comes from multiple ...


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