Even if the Kanji is the same…

Even if the Kanji is the same…

In this section, we’ll share our students’ compositions.

同じ漢字でも*English follows Japanese.

















Even if the Kanji is the same…

チョウ (China)

 The Japanese language has a lot of Kanji. On top of that, most of the Japanese and the Chinese characters share the same meaning, a reason why for a Chinese student, learning Japanese comes naturally easier.

That’s why I’ve kind of neglected my kanji study, I didn’t pay much attention to it and kept directly transferring the Chinese meaning to the Japanese characters. However, by doing so, you won’t really improve the Japanese language.

Even if the kanjis are the same, the meanings of Chinese and Japanese characters might be completely different, or just with some subtle differences, which make it easy to misunderstand.

I started concentrating on that difference the first time when I was doing a math’s probability problem.

I first quickly looked at the task, and started writing with full confidence, and gave the answer without too much trouble.

However…when I went to check the correct answer at the end of the page, I was surprised by it. Mostly because even it wasn’t indeed a hard problem to solve, I had it wrong. I must have been distracted during the calculation and maybe made some kind of mistake there. But for how many times I tried and redo the problem, I got the same result all the time.

Just to be sure of that, I contacted my Chinese friend who’s very good at math.

And as expected, he also gave my same exact answer. I started doubting secretly about the correctness of the answer. Maybe due to a printing error the textbook was wrong.

While thinking so, I had a look at the problem one more time, and the word 「以上, ijou* draw my attention.

In China, especially when we talk about numbers, we use the word 「以上」 without counting the number that precedes. You have to specify to the listener if you want to include that number.

When I looked up at the Japanese use of the word 「以上」, I found out that in every case the word means “or more”. Same for the corresponding word 「以下, ika, that means “or less”, “smaller than”.

When you say 「3以上」, in Japanese 3 is always included in the range. There are no such things as “it depends on the case”. After I learnt about this difference, I proceeded to smoothly solve the problem.

Although Japanese and Chinese are similar languages in that they use kanji, they have many subtle differences that can cause misunderstandings.

That’s why as a Chinese learner I think I cannot ignore the study of kanji.


*The word 「以上, ijou」 means “above/ more than”.
For example, in Japanese「3以上」means “3 or higher”, while in Chinese means “more than 3”.