Teach Yourself Japanese
Subject: kanji difference
From: TAKASUGI Shinji (tssf.airnet.ne.jp)
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2001 05:44:19 GMT
The Chinese use more Han characters (漢字, hànzì, kanji) than the Japanese do, and they can usually understand Japanese ones. In general, the Chinese use 4,000 characters and the Japanese use 2,000 characters. But the two peoples use some characters differently.
The language of north China was drastically changed when most of the ancient Chinese people died in a long warring era starting at the end of Hàn Dynasty (漢) and Altaic nomads conquered the devastated northern half of China in the 4th century. It was also changed in the 10th century when Táng Dynasty (唐) collapsed, and in the 17th century when the Manchus built Qīng Dynasty (清) and made official their Manchu-influenced Chinese language, which is now called Mandarin.
The following chart shows how characters in Mandarin are different from ancient Chinese, Cantonese (one of the southern Chinese languages), and Japanese.
|Eye||目||眼睛 (yănjing)||眼 (ngaan5)||目 (me)
|Ear||耳||耳朶 (èrduo)||耳 (yi5)||耳 (mimi)
|Mouth||口||嘴 (zuĭ)||口 (hau2)||口 (kuchi)
|Face||面||臉 (liăn)||面 (min6)||顔 (kao)
|Foot||足||脚 (jiăo)||脚 (geuk3)||足 (ashi)
|Dog||犬||狗 (gŏu)||狗 (gau2)||犬 (inu)
|Tree||木||樹 (shù)||樹 (syu6)||木 (ki)
|Red||赤||紅 (hóng)||紅 (hung4)||赤 (aka)
|Blue||青||藍 (lán)||藍 (laam4)||青 (ao)
|Eat||食||喫 (chī)||食 (sik6)||食べる (ta·beru)
|Drink||飲||喝 (hē)||飲 (yam2)||飲む (no·mu)
|Stand||立||站 (zhàn)||立 (laap6)||立つ (ta·tsu)
|Enter||入||進 (jìn)||入 (yap6)||入る (hai·ru)
As you see, southern Chinese languages and Japanese preserve the character usage in ancient Chinese.
Source: 現代博言学 (Gendai Hakugengaku) by 橋本 萬太郎 (HASHIMOTO Mantarô), 1981.
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