Chinese "kanji"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Oct 6 02:29:23 UTC 2005

At 10/5/2005 09:23 PM, you wrote:
>I would think "Chinese characters" would have been better here, since from
>the context the writer believes that these are actually characters from
>Chinese (rather than from Japanese, say). "Kanji" means "Chinese[-type]
>characters" in Japanese as I understand it; cf. "Romaji" = "Roman[-type]
>characters" or "letters of Latin alphabets". Chinese-type characters used
>in Japan include a few not used in Chinese but they're still called "kanji"
>(I think); similarly English uses letters not used in Latin but they're
>still called "letters of a Latin alphabet" (I think).

A couple of additional complications, but they don't really affect
the original writer's use of the word "Kanji".

There are three forms of Chinese characters in general
use.  Original-form uses more strokes (standard in Republic of
China). Japanese characters for daily use ("Toyo Kanji") are
simpler.  Then the most simplified is [no name given in my source]
(standard in People's Republic of China).

Japanese script (called Kana) combines two syllabic/phonemic
alphabets for Japanese (Katakana and Hiragana) with the Chinese
characters (the Kanji, which I suspect means "characters Chinese" in
Japanese).  And of course Arabic numerals are often used (together
with Chinese; Japanese itself has no numerals).

Source:  Writing Systems of the World, by Akira Nakanishi, 1980.


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