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Same word, different Kanji... ? Why?

Emoni

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I started reading a nice little book called Breaking into Japanese Literature. Published by Kodansha. Quite a useful book for reading at a decent pace, although I'm not sure how productive it will be in learning new material of course.

I am running into one major issue that is raising an eyebrow. With the first readings being by Natsume Souseki, there are words such as 会う、良い、but end up being in kanji 逢う、好い.

There are a few other kanji like this, that use different kanji for apparently the same word. However... why?

1. Because of writing style?

2. Slight differences in meaning?

3. The age of the writing? Maybe different kanji were used?

4. This is actually common and I just haven't gotten far enough to see it?

It is hard to find out things like this so I was wondering if anyone was familiar. I'm aware of the slight difference with 聞く vs. 聴く. (As I understand it, hear, vs. LISTEN). I'm curious if it goes along these lines.

Thank you.
 

Glenn

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How are you with Japanese dictionaries? They generally show the differences when there are more than one character associated with a word. よい・いい doesn't seem to depend on anything other than convention or the writer's feeling. あう, on the other hand, is split up according to nuance. You can see which character is recommended (I guess?) by looking at which one they put in the 《》at the end of the definition (before the examples). Sometimes they'll put notes in there, too, like "generally character X is used, but sometimes for meaning A character Y is used."

Also, the age has something to do with it. Both Sōseki and Akutagawa wrote before the standardization of the writing system, and there were all sorts of different combinations of characters for the same word (仕舞う・終う・了う comes to mind).
 

Emoni

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Dictionaries I've checked have limited info. They may list a few nuances, but confirming which case is which or what the possibilities even are (such as if it was the era it was written, or the existence of the history you listed) is absent.

Thanks for the details. That clears things up a bit.
 

Glenn

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No, those are two different forms of the same character; what he's talking about is different characters for the same word.
 

tada

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Hmm... they could have had some sort of nuance in their meaning in the past and lost it so now it is essentially the same word today. Some kanji still have the nuances in meaning though, like 取る, 撮る (nuance of "taking a photo"), 捕る (nuance of catching), 盗る (nuance of stealing), etc. However, I see 取る used almost universally for every form of "take" in place of all the others with nuances in them.

Eventually 聞く and 聴く will probably blur the line between them. 聞く is already used for "listen".
 

Glenn

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Right, these are the kinds of characters he's talking about. 取, 撮, 捕, and 盗 are all different characters. Their 音読み are シュ, サツ, ホ, and トウ respectively. 聞く, 聴く, 利く, and 訊く are all き・く, but they're all different characters. Their 音読み are ブン(モン), チョウ, リ, and ジン(シン) respectively.

On the other hand, 駅 is a simplification of 驛, just like 択 is a simplification of 擇, and 沢 is a simplification of 澤. That was the first thing you brought up, and that's not what he was asking about. Those are simply 異体字.
 

Elizabeth

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I am running into one major issue that is raising an eyebrow. With the first readings being by Natume Souseki, there are words such as 会う、良い、but end up being in kanji 逢う、好い.
When you think of 逢う, it should be given in the context of meeting a lover, maybe friend, possibly by chance, under the conditions of a rendezvous; or something that at least starts out as a highly planned, elaborate date situation。

More dramatic than 会う with a similar range of nuance to 出会う actually...


いい to よい in modern speech is simply more casual and appears in different compounds. I have no clue how it would have been represented
in the literature of over a century ago.
 

tada

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On the other hand, 駅 is a simplification of 驛, just like 択 is a simplification of 擇, and 沢 is a simplification of 澤. That was the first thing you brought up, and that's not what he was asking about. Those are simply 異体字.

I already understood that I was wrong the first time. You don't need to bring it up twice.
 

Glenn

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Oh, then I misunderstood what you were saying the second time. Sorry about that.
 

tada

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My main point though is that there usually are nuances with kanji that have the same kun-reading. 良い and 好い possibly had some nuances in the past, and a lot of kanji still do.
 

Glenn

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Yes, you're right about that. Sorry I misunderstood what you were saying.
 

Elizabeth

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Hmm... they could have had some sort of nuance in their meaning in the past and lost it so now it is essentially the same word today. Some kanji still have the nuances in meaning though, like 取る, 撮る (nuance of "taking a photo"), 捕る (nuance of catching), 盗る (nuance of stealing), etc. However, I see 取る used almost universally for every form of "take" in place of all the others with nuances in them.

Eventually 聞く and 聴く will probably blur the line between them. 聞く is already used for "listen".
聞く has always been used for "ask" (also interchangable with 訊く) "listen," or "hear."

聴く simply stresses the act of listening closely and attentively with the intent to comprehend, which is why it is associated with 謹聴 (きんちょう)、傾聴 (けいちょう)、listening to radio, tv, music etc.

It is in that sense I believe you meant to say the blurring takes place.
 

Emoni

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Thank you all. I have a better idea of the context in which these differences relate now... but of course, that is just the beginning.
 

Elizabeth

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Thank you all. I have a better idea of the context in which these differences relate now... but of course, that is just the beginning.
どういたしまして。

日本語にはこういうことばがたくさんありますね。本当に面白いと思います。。。👍

たとえば、「わかる」は「分かる」「判る」「解かる」、
「かける」も「掛ける」「懸ける」「架ける」
「はねる」も「跳ねる」「撥ねる」 「刎ねる」などありますね。 

やっぱり、それぞれ意味が微妙に違いますね。🙂
 
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