Chinese Tuesdays: All Japanese to me


I’m back from a trip to Japan, where it was interesting to see the different uses of Chinese hanzi as Japanese kanji, the same characters with similar meanings but different pronunciation. This sign, for example, says parking prohibited (驻车禁止 zhùchējìnzhǐ) and is understandable if you read Chinese, even though in China they usually use a different character for park, 停 (tíng) rather than 驻 (駐 zhù), and you wouldn't be able to read it aloud.

Then there are words using kanji which make no sense at all in Chinese, like 无料 (無料 wúliào), which means free of charge but uses the characters for "no" and "material". Or 录画 (録画 lùhuà), which means to record, combining the Chinese characters for "to record" and "to paint". Interestingly, in the last example the Japanese write a traditional version of the first character 录 (録, a variant of 錄), but the same simplified Chinese for the second character 画.

from Sam Duncan's blog