A Note on Kanji and Hànzì

Friday February 08, 2019

•  Asian studies •  Chinese •  handwriting •  Japanese •  linguistics • 

This is a really fun little narrow bit of amusement I got out of this, but it is worth sharing. I was watching a video from LangFocus about kanji. I really like the presenter, and this is a neat video:

The Complexity of Kanji


But never one to watch just one video when one can watch 40, I also watched his video on Mandarin versus Cantonese:

How Similar Are Mandarin and Cantonese?


About a third of the way through that video the word for hànzì appears on the screen. And this is what I love, in Simplified Chinese, the word for hànzì is 汉字. And in Japanese, the word for kanji is 漢字. Hmm, now I know that kanji literally means “Chinese characters,” but it is still awesome to see that word for character appear in both language’s names for their own writing.

But wait, that’s not all. I posted the Simplified Chinese, which was developed in the early 20th century. This is long after kanji was imported to Japan. The Traditional Chinese form of hànzì is 漢字. Different characters. Different mappings on my screen. But they look the same.

It all makes sense, but it is kind of cool to see in action.