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82 votes
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If Kanji are necessary to disambiguate homophones, how come it's still used, being that Japanese people seem to know the difference when speaking?

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 ...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
47 votes
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How can I tell if a Japanese person's given name is male or female?

There are a number of common suffixes you can use to try to guess. Here is an incomplete list of common suffixes which are a pretty safe bet: Female ko 子 mi 美 ka 花・華 e 江・恵 na 奈・菜 no 乃 ri 里 Male rō ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
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43 votes
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What does the highlighted portion of this handwritten Kanji say?

It says 聞いてるし. is 略字 (the handwritten simplified/abbreviated kanji) of 聞. Other kanji with 門, such as 問、間、開、閉 etc., can also be simplified the same way: Other examples of 略字: For more about 略字, ...
chocolate's user avatar
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40 votes

Why is 一日 'tsuitachi'?

There are a few words in Japanese where the Kanji reading does not match up with the given 音読{おんよ}み or 訓読{くんよ}み readings. These are 熟字訓{じゅくじくん} particularly if the reading is more important and ...
psosuna's user avatar
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40 votes
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Does the on'yomi of 輪 (リン) have any relation to the English "ring", or is it a coincidence?

Is there an etymological connection between 輪{リン} as in 車輪{しゃりん} and "ring" in English? Or is this a false cognate? There are a few things we have to look at to answer this. Derivation of different ...
Eiríkr Útlendi's user avatar
36 votes
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What is the 中 in ダウンロード中?

Yes, you are correct that 中 (ちゅう) in this case means "in the middle of ~ ". For your sentence, the simple translation "downloading" is probably the most natural. It is fairly ...
kandyman's user avatar
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28 votes
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What is the significance of a repeated radical in a Kanji character?

In general, don't overinterpret repeated components. It's inconsistent and largely a hit-and-miss exercise. Sometimes they just mean "lots of" the single repeated component, or some extended meaning ...
dROOOze's user avatar
  • 9,110
25 votes
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Are the days of the week named after the planets?

Yes, they are, and it comes from Western Influence. 日曜, 月曜, 火曜, 水曜, 木曜, 金曜, 土曜 are Classical Chinese names for the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, respectively. English names ...
dROOOze's user avatar
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24 votes
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How do Japanese understand "non-standard" words without looking at kanji?

日本語 日本語が理解できると思いますので日本語で回答します。 一般に、また、私も、「じんせい」と聞いて「仁星」を思い浮かべることはできません。私は全く「仁星」という言葉を見たことも聞いたこともなく、自信をもって日本語には無いと思っています。 若者が「仁星」と理解した理由を想像しますと、唯一の可能性は、「しゅう」という言葉が「じんせい」とともに聞こえてきたからだと思います。 私には、...
user20624's user avatar
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24 votes

If Kanji are necessary to disambiguate homophones, how come it's still used, being that Japanese people seem to know the difference when speaking?

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....
Kurausukun's user avatar
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24 votes
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Why is 私 a sixth grade kanji?

This is because you don't have to write it in kanji even after you have become an adult. On BCCWJ, there are 65,182 examples of 私は, while the number of the examples of わたしは is 11,372. This means many ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
24 votes

Why is 日本 read as "nihon" but not "nitsuhon"?

There are three readings for 日本: にほん, にっぽん, and やまと. The last reading is non-standard as far as general use. The first two are still used often, but にほん is by far the de rigueur reading currently. ...
BJCUAI's user avatar
  • 7,220
23 votes

What does the highlighted portion of this handwritten Kanji say?

This is the handwritten simplified version of , similar to simplified Chinese . Note however that the simplified Chinese form of the radical has a break, and the "divider" is a single dot-like ...
Eiríkr Útlendi's user avatar
23 votes
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Meaning of 人 in Japanese internet slang

人 represents two hands pressed together. It appears in many kaomoji. In this context it represents praying hands (合掌), a traditional Buddhism/Shinto praying gesture. It can also mean more casual "...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
22 votes

Is it 日本人 or にほんじん?

Both are correct. 日本人 is the word for 'Japanese (person)' written in kanji. にほんじん is exactly the same word but written in hiragana. Adults normally use the kanji version (日本人), but にほんじん appears in ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
21 votes

Is exact Kanji stroke length important?

Notice how in some fonts, the letter "A" has little things that stick out, too: But you wouldn't write those little tails in handwriting, would you? Same thing with 唱. I don't think I've met anyone ...
Sweeper's user avatar
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21 votes
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Is exact Kanji stroke length important?

These "jumps" that you brought up are not part of the kanji, they are part of the typeface. (More specifically, they may be treated like serifs - or little decorations at the edge of certain lines) (...
sazarando's user avatar
  • 7,401
20 votes
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Does every kanji come from a Chinese character? If so, where can I find the origins of a kanji?

Yes, there are a few kanji that were invented purely by Japanese people. Examples are listed in 和製漢字. Some kanji were reverse-imported to Chinese (see: Japanese-coined CJKV characters used outside ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
20 votes
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Are there any words that are longer in kanji than in hiragana?

Yes, 熟字訓 words have no direct connection between its kanji spelling and its reading, and a few of them are actually longer in kanji than in kana, but these kanji are rare and not actively used in ...
naruto's user avatar
  • 318k
19 votes

Which is the most popular non-Jōyō kanji?

Here are the top 30ish non-jouyou, non-jinmei kanji from several frequency databases. I compiled these a while ago for my own curiosity and don't readily have references to the source data (other than ...
G-Cam's user avatar
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19 votes
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What is the story behind "peach kanji" 桃?

In many kanji, some of the components do not provide meaning, but only sound.「桃」(On'yomi: とう) is made up of semantic「木」(tree) and phonetic「兆」(On'yomi: ちょう). Remember: Kanji were created for Chinese ...
dROOOze's user avatar
  • 9,110
19 votes
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Are 变 and 変 the same?

They are both slightly different simplifications of the traditional Chinese character which is 變. 变 is the simplified Chinese and 変 the shinjitai, i.e. the Japanese simplification. Often the ...
Earthliŋ's user avatar
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18 votes

Do we really need to remember the kunyomi and onyomi reading of each kanji?

Adding to what others said, in my opinion you shouldn't think of it as memorizing all the readings for every kanji, abstractly. You should think of it as learning Japanese words (which you have to ...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
18 votes
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Why does the word for "surgery" 外科 have the 外 kanji?

外科【げか】 stands in contrast to 内科【ないか】. While 内科【ないか】 has the straightforwardly corresponding term "internal medicine" in English, I do not think the term "external medicine" corresponding to 外科【げか】 ...
Eiríkr Útlendi's user avatar
18 votes
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Is reasonable to assume that the 食 in 月食/日食 can be interpreted as the sun/moon being "eaten" during an eclipse?

Rather than interpreting「食」as its original meaning eaten, it is probably more accurate to interpret it for its secondary meaning that developed in Old Chinese: wear away, corrode, damage [something]. ...
dROOOze's user avatar
  • 9,110
18 votes
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Can I use both 気温 and 温度 when asking for the weather temperature?

Though 温度 is a generic word for temperature, we prefer the specific 気温 "air temperature" everyday when we mention the weather, in conversation or in forecast. Same for 水温 of water, 体温 of body, 室温 of ...
broccoli forest's user avatar
17 votes
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The meaning of "yoi" in martial arts

The correct word for it is yōi (用意), but perhaps you failed to perceive vowel length and/or your sensei isn't a native speaker. In many martial arts we start a match with: 用意――はじめ! Ready.........

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