Chinese "kanji"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 6 05:35:48 UTC 2005

Isn't katakana used only for writing foreign words, somewhat as
though, in English, we used italics only to write words like "angst,"
and "a la carte"?

-Wilson Gray

On 10/5/05, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Chinese "kanji"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> Joel

-Wilson Gray

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