Same Kanji, Different Meanings

Same Kanji, Different Meanings

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

同じ漢字と違う意味*English follows Japanese.

ゴ シュンタク(中国)








Same Kanji, Different Meanings

ゴ シュンタク (China)

The Japanese language uses many characters. Among the number of characters, a lot of kanji have the same meaning in Chinese and Japanese. Depending on the word, sometimes the writing is the same, but the meaning differs so much. One big example could be the word 「迷惑, meiwaku」.

I noticed this difference when one day the home delivery service arrived at a time when I wasn’t at home. I couldn’t receive the parcel, so I got contacted by email from the post office. As it often happens in these cases, the email contained a sentence that said 「ご迷惑をおかけして申し訳ありません」* with inside the word 「迷惑, meiwaku」. I felt that the word 「迷惑」 was totally out of context. So I checked the meaning of the word in Japanese, and discovered that it had a different meaning to the Chinese word.

In Japanese, 「迷惑」 refers to something that cause annoyance affecting the normal work and life of other people. In Chinese, 「迷惑」 mostly means “confusion”, being confused about things. The writing is the same, but the meaning is completely different.

When you look at kanji that you are familiar with and try to understand them with intuition and preconceived notions, you will not be able to understand them correctly.
I have to understand the true meaning of the characters.

*「ご迷惑をおかけして申し訳ありません, gomeiwaku wo okakeshite moushiwakearimasen」it is a Japanese expression that means “We are sorry for the inconvenience”. The word meiwaku itself means “nuisance”.