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The Kanji Appreciation Thread


May 6, 2015
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You display the common error of conflating the Japanese language with the method employed to write the language.
I disagree it's an error.
Please tell us the specific ward you are speaking of.
I like to keep anonymous on the internet, but the character was 町 (chou vs machi)
How in hell do you arrive at the position that Japanese people can't speak Japanese "properly"
That example and ones like it. Not in the same vein as "tomaato" vs "tomaeto" as it goes beyond mere accent.
Have you ever considered the degree to which English butchers the pronunciation of borrowed words? It is hardly a phenomenon unique to the Japanese. If you know any Frenchmen you may tell them for me that they make a complete charade out of the way they pronounce croissant.
False binary as it is indeed a question of degree. English has been very effective at absorbing masses of foreign language without its speakers even knowing it. Few of them will know whether a word is old germanic origin or an original English creation, or french/latin/greek/indian (e.g. bungalow/khaki etc) origin. Can use both "best" and "optimum" flexibly etc. The only side effect has been clumsy spelling and conjugation rules.

Japanese on the other hand prefers to take the foreign word, but simultaneously use yet another set of phonographs to let everyone know "this is a foreign word", and mangle it with little attempt to recreate the original pronunciation. Japanese are perfectly capable of pronouncing a stop, "ich ni san" "asakksa", but arrogantly won't do so when the foreign word requires it (shiito beruto). It would have taken a single diacritic (which they're no strangers to in kana) to indicate "don't release", and they'd be pronouncing that word twice as well.

Of course English fails to absorb tonal vocabulary for instance, but so too did Japanese, even when the country was just across the sea. And then they don't even mark tonal diacritics for their remaining 2 tones.

I know almost no English speaker who says "croissant" as croissant. They all say "kwasson" in faithful attempt to approximate the pronunciation. Yes, they'll draw the line at pronouncing foreign names like "van Gogh" naturally, but the English do at least get it as close as possible with "van goff".

The french & icelanders at least try to calque new foreign words to keep their language coherent. The Japanese have no interest in that. Why are they writing and saying PM2.5 and then don't even recognize 煤塵 when I show it them? Or knowing "guraidaa" instead of 滑翔機? And why can't they just write something like 席紐 for seat belt?

As I see it, using 4 different systems of writing, and 2 different whole systems of pronunciation, is dysfunction. Everyone else is trying to, and reaching fair success, in melding it all together.

Really I think Japan is in sore need of a leader of some sort. Ataturk drove through latin + diacritic based writing for his country because he saw it as best (I don't know what the equivalent would be for Japanese). The only person who could lead as an equivalent character I guess would be the Emperor, but he's completely disempowered now.

We already have many threads about that topic...
I want my turn! 🙂:
And not to bump an old thread / make one unnecessarily.

Mike Cash

Mar 15, 2002
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Since when is "ward" 町?
Apr 4, 2014
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I think it's a safe bet that if you were somehow able to ask Japanese people who had just read the 謎 character five minutes prior whether the shin-nyou (shin-nyuu) component had one or two dots in it, they would be unable to tell you. It doesn't matter, as they are treated as the same.
It's a relief to know that such leeway in using different kanji forms exists.
Finally, I am a little curious about your use of the term 改正前. I have never seen this term applied to kanji, and am wondering if you saw it used elsewhere, or if it is your own ad hoc usage. If I were to use that term to describe the 謎 character, if anything, I would say that the 改正前 form is the one with 17 strokes, not the other way around.
That's terminology employed by a website i use for verifying whether a proper character set is installed by an application or a website. Take a look: 「溢」の書き方 - 漢字の正しい書き順(筆順)
「謎」の書き方 - 漢字の正しい書き順(筆順)
As for your assumption that a "revised" kanji is ought to lose some strokes not gain extra strokes - i agree that it would make more sense, but seems that's not always the case.


Sep 19, 2016
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That's terminology employed by a website i use for verifying whether a proper character set is installed by an application or a website.
Thanks for sending the links. Now I can see what is going on. The terms 改正前 and 改正後 are not global terms applied to kanji in general, but rather are being used here in a very specific role: they are used to denote revisions that were made to the JIS X 0213 character standard in 2004 in terms of what form is used for the standard example representation of a character. I'm not sure, but I think that the changes made in 2004 were done to achieve greater consistency among the CJK character sets.
This is very esoteric information, so I am not sure why the kakijun site chose to include that. But, bottom line, it is best not to use these terms when discussing kanji in general.


Oct 12, 2004
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町 can be read as both ちょう and まち depending on the specific place name.
This is really no different from place names in a Western country that might be spelled the same but have two different pronunciations. (e.g. Athens, KY vs. Athens, Greece).

Citing something like this as an example that the Japanese language (and, by implication, the culture that produced it) is hopelessly broken and need of "fixing" comes off as quite arrogant and culturally insensitive.

You cherry picked the example of "croissant" (and I can assure you there are plenty of native English speakers who pronounce this as cruh-SAHNT) without addressing any of Mike's other examples. No English speaker pronounces "karaoke", "futon", "Hiroshima", or what have you anything close to the original Japanese pronunciation. Loanwords taking on new pronunciations in the language that borrows them is simply how language works 99% of the time. And what about the examples where the Japanese pronunciation of a foreign word or place name is closer to the original than the English? (パリ versus PAIR-iss, despite the fact that native English speakers could just as easily approximate the original French pronunciation.)

You do realize that a second-language English learner who is frustrated with all the exceptions and irregularities in English language and grammar (and inconsistencies in how native speakers use their own language) could easily come up with a similar list of gripes, yes? And wouldn't you feel a bit insulted if that person then went on to extrapolate that because of this, there is something inherently wrong with the English language, the culture that created it, and/or any society that speaks it?

Just something to think about.