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80 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 ...
45 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 ...
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41 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, ...
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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 ...
39 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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24 votes
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Why are there many kanji that are read and mean the same?

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 (...
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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....
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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 ...
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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. ...
  • 7,120
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 ...
23 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、...
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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 "...
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22 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 ...
  • 8,877
22 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 ...
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22 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) (...
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21 votes
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Where does the な in 大人 (otona) come from?

It's [熟字訓]{じゅくじくん}. Excerpt from Wiktionary: A Japanese word whose kanji spelling conveys the meaning based on the individual characters, but the reading is not directly related to the spellling. ...
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19 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 ...
  • 273k
19 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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18 votes
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For body: 身体 or 体

In short: 体【からだ】: normal way to say "body". 身体【しんたい】: sounds more technical/academic/physical, and only mean the bodies of humans and large animals. Bodies of machines and robots are technically ...
  • 273k
18 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 ...
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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】 ...

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