Difference between Kanji and Chinese

Both Kanji and Chinese are writing scripts which were once quite similar but with time have differed apart. In the Japanese language Kanji are the adopted characters taken from the Chinese language; they have now been fully incorporated in the Japanese language. The Kanji characters are different than the old Hanzi characters. While many characters appear the same in the Kanji script, their meanings are quite different in Chinese.

Although the two scripts are completely different, surprisingly Chinese characters are used for writing Japanese texts. Keep reading this article to learn more about the two languages.


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    While these characters were adopted from the Chinese language, these have been incorporated in the Japanese language for better use according to the Japanese traditions and culture.

    In ancient times, Japan did not have a script of its own and thus scripts were adopted from other flourishing languages. Imports from China in seals, letters and coins were actually the reason why the Japanese people got to know about the Chinese characters. With the imported objects containing Chinese language on them, it didn’t make any sense to the Japanese people at the time. Nonetheless, around the fifth century, Chinese emperors took it upon themselves to send scholars to Japan to teach them the meanings of these characters.

    With this a system of writing known as kanbun was born which actually had many Chinese characters in it. In later years, other scripts were also invented in Japan, nevertheless, Kanji still remains the most prominent and popular system of writing.

    Image Courtesy: japan-guide.com

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    It is a family of different languages so similar to each other that it is hard to tell the difference, especially by foreigners. Mandarin is actually the most spoken language by the Chinese people. The written language is made up of characters which are pictographic or logographic with every character depicting an object or a certain concept. These Chinese characters are called Hanzi and become Kanji when they are used in the Japanese language. This Chinese language is used in many other parts of the world such as in Vietnam and Korea.

    At the beginning, the Chinese language can be extremely difficult for a new student to understand but with time and with a closer look, it becomes easier for people to understand the characters in this language. If a student can learn a few thousand (3-4) characters then learning the rest of the language becomes easier.

    Image Courtesy: truton.net

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