Chinese "kanji"

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Oct 7 02:20:37 UTC 2005

Kanji means "Han characters" where character means any sort of glyph,
letter, etc., though the name Kan has, by way of extension, the additional
meaning of China.

Characters invented in Japan are referred to as kokuji (country characters)
but are included in the general set of kanji; some kokuji include "Chinese"
readings, invented by the Japanese.

Traditional characters are still used in Hong Kong (and probably Macao),
Taiwan, the Koreas, and I imagine Vietnam (when they're used at all). The
PRC uses simplified characters, and because China has retaken possession of
Hong Kong and Macao, I expect the simplified characters will or are becoming
standard there.

Japan also used simplified characters (kantaiji), but the simplification is
separate from the Chinese simplification. BTW, the Toyo set of characters
has been superceded by the Joyo Kanji (Chinese characters in common use).

Benjamin Barrett
Baking the World a Better Place

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Joel S. Berson
> 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).
> 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).

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