Thursday, September 11, 2008

Semi-cursive script

Semi-cursive script is a partially cursive style of Chinese calligraphy.

Also referred to in English both as running script and by its Mandarin Chinese name, xíngshū, it is derived from clerical script, and was for a long time after its development in the first centuries AD the usual style of handwriting.

Some of the best examples of ''xingshu'' calligraphy can be found in the work of Wang Xizhi of the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

Seal script

Seal script is an ancient style of Chinese calligraphy. It evolved organically out of the script , arising in the of . Seal script became standardized and adopted as the formal script for all of China in the Qin dynasty, and was still widely used for decorative engraving and s in the Han dynasty. Ever since, its predominant use has been in seals, hence the English name. The literal translation of its Chinese name 篆书 is ''decorative engraving script'', because by the time this name was coined in the Han dynasty, its role had been reduced to decorational inscriptions rather than as the main script of the day.

See for examples of seal script compared to modern Chinese script.

Most people today cannot read the seal script, so it is generally not used outside the fields of seals and calligraphy.

Large Seal Scripts

There are two uses of the word seal script, the , and the lesser or ; the latter is also called simply ''seal script''. The Large Seal script was originally a later, vague Han dynasty reference to writing of the Qin system similar to but earlier than Small Seal. It has also been used to refer to Western Zhou forms or even oracle bones as well. Since the term is an imprecise one, not clearly referring to any specific historical script and not used with any consensus in meaning, modern scholars tend to avoid it, and when referring to ''seal'' script, generally mean the seal script of the Qin system, that is, the lineage which evolved in the state of Qin during the Spring and Autumn to Warring States periods and which was standardized under the First Emperor.

Evolution of Seal Script

Unified Small seal script

The script of the Qin system had evolved organically from the Zhou script starting in the Spring and Autumn period. Beginning around the Warring States period, it became vertically elongated with a regular appearance. This was the period of maturation of Small Seal script, also called simply ''seal script''. It was systematized by Li Si 李斯 during the reign of the First Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang through elimination of most variant structures, and was imposed as the nationwide standard , but small seal script was clearly not ''invented'' at that time. Through Chinese commentaries, it is known that Li Si compiled ''Cangjie'' 倉頡篇, a non-extant work of character recognition listing some 3,300 Chinese characters in small seal script. Their form is characterised by being less rectangular and more squarish.

In the popular history of Chinese characters, the Small Seal script is traditionally considered to be the ancestor of the clerical script 隷書, which in turn gave rise to all of the other scripts in use today. However, recent archaeological discoveries and scholarship have led some scholars to conclude that the direct ancestor of clerical script was proto-clerical script, which in turn evolved out of the little-known ''vulgar'' or ''popular'' writing of the late Warring States to Qin period .

The first known character dictionary was the 3rd century BC ''Erya'' 爾雅, collated and bibliographed by Liu Xiang 劉向 and his son Liu Xin 劉歆, lost the pre-Han script during the course of textual transmission. Not long after however, the ''Shuowen Jiezi'' 說文解字 was written preserving the canonical small seal script of late-Qin. The latter shows 9,353 pre-Han scripts, consisting mostly of the late Qin small seal script characters and a small number of Six Warring States variant scripts, listed under 540 , the lifework of Xu Shen 許愼, during the Han Dynasty.

Regular script

The regular script or standard script, or in kaishu and kaisho, also commonly known as standard regular , is the newest of the Chinese calligraphy styles , hence most common in modern writings and publications . It is also occasionally known as true script and standard script .

Standard script came into being between the and dynasties , and its first known master was Zhōng Yáo , who lived in the E. Hàn to Cáo Wèi period, ca 151-230 CE. He is known as the “father of standard script”, and his famous works include the Xuānshì Biǎo , Jiànjìzhí Biǎo , and Lìmìng Biǎo . Qiú Xīguī describes the script in Zhong’s Xuānshì Biǎo as:
:“…clearly emerging from the womb of early period semi-cursive script. If one were to write the tidily written variety of early period semi-cursive script in a more dignified fashion and were to use consistently the pause technique when ending horizontal strokes, a practice which already appears in early period semi-cursive script, and further were to make use of right-falling strokes with thick feet, the result would be a style of calligraphy like that in the “Xuān shì biǎo”.

However, other than a few literati, very few wrote in this script at the time; most continued writing in neo-clerical script, or a hybrid form of semi-cursive and neo-clerical. Standard script did not become dominant until the early Southern and Northern Dynasties, in the 5th century; this was a variety of standard script which emerged from neo-clerical as well as from Zhong Yao's standard script, and is called " regular" . Thus, standard script had parentage in early semi-cursive as well as neo-clerical scripts.

The script is considered to have matured stylistically during the Tang Dynasty, with the most famous and oft-imitated regular script calligraphers of that period being:
* The early Tang four great calligraphers :
** Ouyang Xun
** Yu Shinan
** Chu Suiliang
** Xue Ji
* "Yan-Liu"
** Yan Zhenqing
** Liu Gongquan

Those regular script characters with width larger than 5 cm is usually considered larger regular script, or dakai , and those smaller than 2 cm usually small regular script, or xiaokai . Those in between are usually called medium regular script, or zhongkai . Or are compared in relation to those around.

Beginners often are recommended to start with the Eight Principles of Yong, which are said to contain the fundamentals of most, if not all, of the regular script calligraphy.

Notable artifacts with the Regular Scripts include:
* ''The Records of Yao Boduo Sculpturing'' during the Southern and Northern Dynasties
* The Tablet of Guangwu General during the Southern and Northern Dynasties
* The Tablet of Longzang Temple of the Sui Dynasty
* ''Tombstone-Record of Sui Xiaoci'' of the Sui Dynasty
* ''Tombstone-Record of Beauty Tong'' of the Sui Dynasty

The Zhuyin used to annotate texts, although not true Chinese characters, are virtually always written in the regular script style as well.

Ming (typeface)

Ming typefaces, known as Song typefaces in mainland China, are a category of typefaces used to display Chinese characters, which are used in the , , and languages. They are currently the most used style of type in print for Chinese and Japanese.


The two names of the type style correspond to the two dynasties in Chinese history, the Song Dynasty during which it was created and the Ming Dynasty, during which the style flourished. In Mainland China, the most common name is "Song typefaces." In Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, "Ming typefaces" is prevalent. In Taiwan, both names are used.

* Chinese:
* Japanese: Kanji: ; : Minchōtai
* Korean: Hangul: ; Hanja: ; : Myeongjoche


This typeface is characterised, among other things, by the following:
* Thick vertical strokes contrasted with thin horizontal strokes
* Triangular ornaments at the end of single horizontal strokes called ''uroko'' in Japanese
* Overall geometrical regularity
These characteristics are visible in the example above.

Possessing variable line weight and characteristic decorations at the end of lines similar to serifs, this type style is comparable to Western serif typefaces, as opposed to the which are comparable to sans-serif.

Often there are number of different ways to write the same Chinese character, they are collectively referred to as variant Chinese characters. Some of those differences are caused by character simplification or word choices, while others are purely orthographic differences such as stroke styling. The styling of the strokes used in the old Song and Ming fonts came from the style used in Kangxi dictionary. After the postwar in Japan, the most of the Kangxi style characters were considered as Kyujitai , causing newer dictionaries to incorporate two letter styles, or to simply reject the old styles. In modern China, the government uses the new orthographic style, which is incorporated into MingLiU version 5.03 or above. In Japan, dictionary entries offer both new and old fonts. In Korea, popular fonts such as Batang are based on Kangxi style.


Imitated Song typefaces combine the line weights of regular Song typeface with the stroke layout and decoration of regular script . Unlike regular Song typefaces, these are not called Ming typefaces.

There are some variations between the printed and handwritten forms of many Chinese characters, especially in the orientation of smaller strokes and the shape of certain radicals. Some of these differences are persistent and specific to printed type , but others may be no more significant than variations between individual typefaces. None of these variations usually hinder reading. However, special styles of Ming type (textbook type matching the recommended handwritten forms are used in school textbooks, in order to prevent confusion amongst learners.



The printing press appeared in China during the Song Dynasty. At the time, each print block contained two portrait-oriented pages placed side by side. The print blocks were all cut from rectangular planks such that the wood grain ran horizontally. Because the grain ran horizontally, it was fairly easy to carve patterns with the grain, like horizontal strokes. However, carving vertical or slanted patterns was difficult because those patterns intersect with the grain and very easily break. This resulted in a typeface that has thin horizontal strokes and thick vertical strokes. To prevent wear and tear, the ending of horizontal strokes are also thickened. These design forces resulted in the current Song typeface.

Song typefaces were already in full production during the Song Dynasty; however, they were not mature. More popular typefaces at the time were those that imitated Chinese calligraphy styles, such as the works of Yan Zhenqing , Liu Gongquan , and Ouyang Xun . It was not until the Ming Dynasty, as the price of wood increased, that the Song style become more popular, because it can be carved at smaller sizes than the other type styles. This style has changed so little since the Song Dynasty that people during the Ming Dynasty nicknamed it the "static type style." Also during the Ming Dynasty, this type style spread to Japan and Korea, where it became known as the Ming style.


In text, Hiragana, Katakana, and the Latin alphabet are also used. It is the most commonly used style in print. In Japan there are several variants of the Minchō style, such as the textbook style or the newspaper style.

The name ''Minchō'' means ''Ming Dynasty'', which was the era during which movable type printing flourished in China, and during which Minchō-style type was first created. The creator of modern Japanese movable-type printing, Motoki Shōzō , modeled his sets of type after those prevailing in China, having learned an electrolytic method of type manufacturing from the American William Gamble in 1869. Motoki then created, based on Gamble's frequency studies of characters in the Chinese Bible, a full set of type with added Japanese characters.


In Korean, a similar category of typeface for the Korean alphabet hangul was called ''myeongjo'' until recently, influenced by the Japanese term. A Ministry of Culture-sponsored standardization of typography terms in 1993 replaced ''myeongjo'' with ''batang'', the Korean word for "foundation" or "ground" , and this is the term now current.

Ming typefaces in computing

Strictly speaking, only Chinese characters are thus printed in Song type. However, most modern typefaces have included glyphs for characters in a matching variable-line-width style, usually in a precise style imitating handwriting with a brush. In its modern role comparable to that of western serif fonts, both kana and Roman glyphs are usually part of a complete typeface. In fact, modern digital Song fonts also incorporate serif glyphs for Latin characters, letterlike symbols, numbers.

Well-known modern-day Ming typefaces include the Morisawa foundry's "Ryūbundō Minchō" as well as Adobe's "Kozuka Mincho" family, designed by Kozuka Masahiko .

Pan-Unicode typefaces commonly seen in computing include:
* Bitstream Cyberbit.

Chinese Typefaces

*DLCMingMedium , DLCMingBold , DLCFongSung - Distributed with Traditional Chinese version of Windows 3.1.
*FangSong - distributed with all regions of Windows Vista.
*FangSong_GB2312 - distributed with Simplified Chinese version of Windows 2000 or later.
*'Ming Light' - Default interface font for Windows 3.0 to Windows XP, derived from DynaLab's DLCMing font family. Originally distributed as raster font in Traditional Chinese version of Windows 3.0, then it was available in TrueType format as 'MingLi43' in Traditional Chinese version of Windows 3.1. Starting from version 2.00, the font was internally sorted in Unicode sequence with Big-5 codepage, and carried the English name 'MingLiU'. In version 2.10, the font file also contained PMingLiU . MingLiU was distributed with Traditional Chinese version of Windows 95 to Windows 98, all regional versions of Windows 2000 or later, PMingLiU Update Pack , Traditional Chinese font pack for Internet Explorer 3, Microsoft Global IME 5.02 , Office XP Tool: Traditional Chinese Language Pack.
*PMingLiU - distributed by Microsoft with Traditional Chinese version of Windows 98 operating system, and all regional versions of Windows 2000 or later.
*MingLiU-ExtB , PMingLiU-ExtB - distributed with PMingLiU Update Pack , Windows Vista.
*MingLiU_HKSCS, MingLiU_HKSCS-ExtB - distributed with Windows Vista.
*MS Song - distributed with Simplified Chinese font pack for Internet Explorer 3, Microsoft Global IME 5.02 , Office XP Tool: Simplified Chinese Language Pack.
*NSimSun - distributed with all regions of Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2000.
*SimSun - Default interface font for Windows 95 to Windows XP. Distributed with Chinese versions of Windows 95 to Windows 98, all regions of Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2000.
*SimSun-18030 , NSimSun-18030 - distributed with Simplified Chinese version of Windows XP, or as GB18030 Support Package to Windows 2000 or higher.
*SimSun - distributed with Simplified Chinese version of Microsoft Office XP, Simplified Chinese version of Windows, or Microsoft Office Proofing Tools .
*SimSun-ExtB - distributed with Windows Vista.
*STSong , STFangsong - distributed with Microsoft Office 2000 and XP, Mac OS X 10.2-10.4.
*LiSong Pro Light - distributed with Mac OS 9 or X 10.3-10.4.
*Apple LiSung Light - distributed with Mac OS 9 or X 10.2-10.4.
*Song, Fang Song - distributed with Mac OS X 10.2-10.4.
*STZhongsong - distributed with Microsoft Office 2000 and XP.
*AR PL ShanHeiSun Uni - included with a number of Linux distributions. It is a merged version of 2 fonts released to free software by Arphic foundry.
*WenQuanYi Bitmap Song - A raster font under GNU GPL.

Japanese Typefaces

*MS Mincho - distributed with Japanese version of Windows 3.1 or later, some versions of Internet Explorer 3 Japanese font pack, all regions in Windows XP, Microsoft Office v.X to 2004.
*MS PMincho - distributed in Japanese version of Windows 95 or later, all regions in Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2004.
*Kochi Mincho — Originally named Watanabe font , it was a former font that is included with a number of Linux distributions. It is also notable for being a fixed width font . The development of the font stopped when it was discovered that Watanabe font was copied from the TypeBank Mincho-M font, developed by TypeBank and Design Laboratory, Hitachi, Ltd.
*Hiragino Minchō Pro W3 , Hiragino Minchō Pro W6 — in Mac OS X, it is possibly the only publishing-quality Minchō typeface to ship with a computer operating system. It covers almost all of the Adobe Japan 1-5 glyph collection.

Korean Typefaces

* Batang , BatangChe , Gungsuh , GungsuhChe - distributed by Microsoft with its operating system.

Large Seal Script

Large Seal script or Great Seal script is a traditional reference to Chinese writing from before the Qin dynasty, and is now popularly understood to refer narrowly to the writing of the Western and early Eastern Zhou dynasties, and more broadly to also include the oracle bone script. The term is in contrast to the name of the official script of the Qin dynasty, which is often called . However, due to the lack of precision in the term, scholars often avoid it and instead refer more specifically to the provenance of particular examples of writing.

In the Han dynasty, when clerical script became the popular form of writing and seal script was relegated to more formal usage such as on signet seals and for the titles of stelae , the people began to refer to the earlier Qin dynasty script as 'seal' script . At that time, there was still knowledge of even older, often more complex graphs which differed from the Qin seal script forms, but which resembled them in their rounded, seal-script-like style . As a result, two terms emerged to describe them: 'greater seal script' for the more complex, earlier forms, and 'small seal script' for the Qin dynasty forms.

It is only more recently that the term 'greater seal script' has been extended to refer to Western Zhou forms or even oracle bone script, of which the Han dynasty coiners of this term were unaware. The term 'large seal script' is also sometimes traditionally identified with a group of characters from a book ca 800 BCE entitled Sh? Zhoù Piān , preserved by their inclusion in the Han dynasty lexicon, the Shuowen Jiezi. Xu Shen, the author of Shuowen, included these when they differed from the structures of the Qin seal script, and labelled the examples Zhòuwén or Zhòu graphs. This name comes from the name of the book and not the name of a script. Thus, it is not correct to refer to the ca. 800 BCE Zhoū dynasty script ''as'' Zhòuwén. Similarly, the Zhòu graphs are merely examples of large seal script when that term is used in a broad sense.


are the Chinese characters that are used in the modern along with hiragana , katakana , Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet. The term ''kanji'' literally means " characters".


Chinese characters first came to Japan on articles imported from China. An early instance of such an import was a gold seal given by the of the Eastern Han Dynasty in 57 AD. It is not clear when Japanese people started to gain a command of Classical Chinese by themselves. The first Japanese documents were probably written by Chinese immigrants. For example, the diplomatic correspondence from King Bu of Wa to of the Liu Song Dynasty in 478 has been praised for its skillful use of allusion. Later, groups of people called ''fuhito'' were organized under the monarch to read and write Classical Chinese. From the 6th century onwards, Chinese documents written in Japan tended to show from Japanese, suggesting the wide acceptance of Chinese characters in Japan.

The Japanese language itself had no written form at the time kanji was introduced. Originally texts were written in the Chinese language and would have been read as such. Over time, however, a system known as ''kanbun'' emerged, which involved using Chinese text with diacritical marks to allow Japanese speakers to restructure and read Chinese sentences, by changing word order and adding particles and verb endings, in accordance with the rules of Japanese grammar.

Chinese characters also came to be used to write Japanese words, resulting in the modern kana syllabaries. A writing system called ''man'yōgana'' evolved that used a limited set of Chinese characters for their sound, rather than for their meaning. Man'yōgana written in became ''hiragana'', a writing system that was accessible to women . Major works of Heian era literature by women were written in hiragana. ''Katakana'' emerged via a parallel path: monastery students simplified ''man'yōgana'' to a single constituent element. Thus the two other writing systems, hiragana and katakana, referred to collectively as ''kana'', are actually descended from kanji.

In modern Japanese, kanji are used to write parts of the language such as nouns, adjective and verb , while hiragana are used to write verb and adjective endings , , native Japanese words, and words where the kanji is too difficult to read or remember. Katakana is used for representing onomatopoeia, s, certain naming, and for emphasis on certain words.

Local developments

While kanji are essentially Chinese ''hanzi'' used to write Japanese, there are now significant differences between kanji and hanzi, including the use of characters created in Japan, characters that have been given different meanings in Japanese, and post World War II simplifications of the kanji.


''Kokuji'' are characters peculiar to Japan. ''Kokuji'' are also known as ''wasei kanji'' . There are hundreds of ''kokuji'' . Many are rarely used, but a number have become important additions to the written Japanese language. These include:


Some of them, like "腺", have been introduced to China.


In addition to ''kokuji'', there are kanji that have been given meanings in Japanese different from their original Chinese meanings. These kanji are not considered ''kokuji'' but are instead called ''kokkun'' and include characters such as:

*沖 ''oki''
*椿 ''tsubaki''

Old characters and new characters

Before the end of World War II, the Chinese characters used in Japan were mostly, if not completely, the same as the Traditional Chinese characters. the government introduced the simplified "Tōyō Kanji Form List" . The older forms are now known as 旧字体 and the simplified forms as 新字体 . The following are some examples of Kyūjitai simplifications to Shinjitai:

*國 → 国 ''kuni'', ''koku''
*號 → 号 ''gō''
*變 → 変 ''hen'', ''ka''

Some of the new characters are similar to later adopted in the People's Republic of China. Also, like the simplification process in China, some of the shinjitai were once abbreviated forms used in handwriting. In contrast with the "proper" unsimplified characters these were originally only acceptable in colloquial contexts. shows examples of these handwritten abbreviations, identical to their modern Shinjitai forms, from the pre WWII era.

There are also handwritten simplifications today that are significantly simpler than their standard forms , examples of which can be seen here. Despite their wide usage and popularity, they are not considered orthographically correct and are only used in handwriting.

Theoretically, however, any Chinese character can also be a Japanese character—the ''Daikanwa Jiten'', one of the largest dictionaries of kanji ever compiled, has about 50,000 entries, even though most of the entries have never been used in Japanese.


Because of the way they have been adopted into Japanese, a single kanji may be used to write one or more different words . From the point of view of the reader, kanji are said to have one or more different "readings". Deciding which reading is meant depends on context, intended meaning, use in compounds, and even location in the sentence. Some common kanji have ten or more possible readings. These readings are normally categorized as either ''on'yomi'' or ''kun'yomi'' .


The ''on'yomi'' , the reading, is a Japanese approximation of the Chinese pronunciation of the character at the time it was introduced. Some kanji were introduced from different parts of China at different times, and so have multiple ''on'yomi'', and often multiple meanings. ''Kanji'' invented in Japan would not normally be expected to have ''on'yomi'', but there are exceptions, such as the character 働 "to work", which has the ''kun'yomi'' ''hataraku'' and the on'yomi ''dō'', and 腺 "gland", which has only the ''on'yomi'' ''sen''.

Generally, ''on'yomi'' are classified into four types:
*''Go-on'' readings are from the pronunciation during the Southern and Northern Dynasties or Baekje, an ancient state on the Korean Peninsula, during the and . ''Go'' means the region .
*''Kan-on'' readings are from the pronunciation during the Tang Dynasty in the to , primarily from the standard speech of the capital, Chang'an .
*''Tō-on'' readings are from the pronunciations of later dynasties, such as the and . They cover all readings adopted from the Heian era to the Edo period .

*''Kan'yō-on'' readings, which are mistaken or changed readings of the kanji that have become accepted into the language.


The most common form of readings is the ''kan-on'' one. The ''go-on'' readings are especially common in Buddhist terminology such as ''gokuraku'' 極楽 "paradise". The ''tō-on'' readings occur in some words such as ''isu'' 椅子 "chair" or ''futon'' 布団 "mattress".

In Chinese, most characters are associated with a single Chinese syllable. However, some homographs called 多音字 such as 行 have more than one reading in Chinese representing different meanings, which is reflected in the carryover to Japanese as well. Additionally aside, most Chinese syllables did not fit the largely consonant-vowel phonotactics of classical Japanese. Thus most ''on'yomi'' are composed of two , the second of which is either a lengthening of the vowel in the first mora, or one of the syllables ''ku'', ''ki'', ''tsu'', ''chi'', or syllabic ''n'', chosen for their approximation to the final consonants of Middle Chinese. In fact, , as well as syllabic ''n'', were probably added to Japanese to better simulate Chinese; none of these features occur in words of native Japanese origin.

''On'yomi'' primarily occur in multi-kanji compound words , many of which are the result of the adoption, along with the kanji themselves, of Chinese words for concepts that either did not exist in Japanese or could not be articulated as elegantly using native words. This borrowing process is often compared to the English borrowings from Latin and Norman French, since Chinese-borrowed terms are often more specialized, or considered to sound more erudite or formal, than their native counterparts. The major exception to this rule is family names, in which the native ''kun'yomi'' reading is usually used.


The ''kun'yomi'' , Japanese reading, or native reading, is a reading based on the pronunciation of a native word, or ''yamatokotoba'', that closely approximated the meaning of the character when it was introduced. As with ''on'yomi'', there can be multiple ''kun'' readings for the same kanji, and some kanji have no ''kun'yomi'' at all.

For instance, the kanji for east, , has the ''on'' reading ''tō''. However, already had two words for "east": ''higashi'' and ''azuma''. Thus the kanji 東 had the latter readings added as ''kun'yomi''. In contrast, the kanji 寸, denoting a Chinese unit of measurement , has no native equivalent; it only has an ''on'yomi'', ''sun'', with no native ''kun'' reading. Most ''kokuji'', Japanese-created Chinese characters, only have ''kun'' readings.

''Kun'yomi'' are characterized by the strict V syllable structure of ''yamatokotoba''. Most noun or adjective ''kun'yomi'' are two to three syllables long, while verb ''kun'yomi'' are usually between one and three syllables in length, not counting trailing hiragana called ''okurigana''. ''Okurigana'' are not considered to be part of the internal reading of the character, although they are part of the reading of the word. A beginner in the language will rarely come across characters with long readings, but readings of three or even four syllables are not uncommon. 承る ''uketamawaru'' and 志 ''kokorozashi'' have five syllables represented by a single kanji, the longest readings of any kanji in the .

In a number of cases, multiple kanji were assigned to cover a single word. Typically when this occurs, the different kanji refer to specific shades of meaning. For instance, the word なおす, ''naosu'', when written 治す, means "to heal an illness or sickness". When written 直す it means "to fix or correct something". Sometimes the distinction is very clear, although not always. Differences of opinion among reference works is not uncommon; one dictionary may say the kanji are equivalent, while another dictionary may draw distinctions of use. As a result, native speakers of the language may have trouble knowing which kanji to use and resort to personal preference or by writing the word in hiragana. This latter strategy is frequently employed with more complex cases such as もと ''moto'', which has at least five different kanji: 元, 基, 本, 下 and 素, three of which have only very subtle differences.

Local dialectical readings of kanji are also classified under ''kun'yomi'', most notably readings for words in Ryukyuan languages.

Other readings

There are many kanji compounds that use a mixture of ''on'yomi'' and ''kun'yomi'', known as ''jūbako'' or ''yutō'' words, which are themselves examples of this kind of compound : the first character of ''jūbako'' is read using ''on'yomi'', the second ''kun'yomi'', while it is the other way around with ''yutō''. These are the Japanese form of hybrid words. Other examples include 場所 ''basho'' "place" , 金色 ''kin'iro'' "golden" and 合気道 ''aikidō'' "the martial art Aikido" .

Some kanji also have lesser-known readings called ''nanori'' , which are mostly used for names , and are generally closely related to the ''kun'yomi''. Place names sometimes also use ''nanori'' or, occasionally, unique readings not found elsewhere.

''Gikun'' or ''jukujikun'' are readings of kanji combinations that have no direct correspondence to the characters' individual ''on'yomi'' or ''kun'yomi''. For example, 今朝 is read neither as ''*ima'asa'', the ''kun'yomi'' of the characters, nor ''*konchō'', the ''on'yomi'' of the characters. Instead it is read as ''kesa''—a native Japanese word with two syllables .

Many ''ateji'' have meanings derived from their usage: for example, the now-archaic 亜細亜 ''ajia'' was formerly used to write "Asia" in kanji; the character 亜 now means ''Asia'' in such compounds as 東亜 ''tōa'', "East Asia". From the written 亜米利加 ''amerika'', the second character was taken, resulting in the semi-formal coinage 米国 ''beikoku'', which literally translates to "rice country" but means "United States of America".

When to use which reading

Although there are general rules for when to use ''on'yomi'' and when to use ''kun'yomi'', the language is littered with exceptions, and it is not always possible for even a native speaker to know how to read a character without prior knowledge.

The rule of thumb is that kanji occurring in isolation, such as a character representing a single word unit, are typically read using their ''kun'yomi''. They may be written with okurigana to mark the inflected ending of a verb or adjective, or by convention. For example: 情け ''nasake'' "sympathy", 赤い ''akai'' "red", 新しい ''atarashii'' "new ", 見る ''miru'' " see", 必ず ''kanarazu'' "invariably". Okurigana is an important aspect of kanji usage in Japanese; see that article for more information on ''kun'yomi'' orthography

Kanji occurring in compounds are generally read using ''on'yomi'', called 熟語 ''jukugo'' in Japanese. For example, 情報 ''jōhō'' "information", 学校 ''gakkō'' "school", and 新幹線 ''shinkansen'' "bullet train" all follow this pattern. This isolated kanji and compound distinction gives words for similar concepts completely different pronunciations. 東 "east" and 北 "north" use the ''kun'' readings ''higashi'' and ''kita'', being stand-alone characters, while 北東 "northeast", as a compound, uses the ''on'' reading ''hokutō''. This is further complicated by the fact that many kanji have more than one ''on'yomi'': 生 is read as ''sei'' in 先生 ''sensei'' "teacher" but as ''shō'' in 一生 ''isshō'' "one's whole life". Meaning can also be an important indicator of reading; 易 is read ''i'' when it means "simple", but as ''eki'' when it means "divination", both being ''on'yomi'' for this character.

This rule of thumb has many exceptions. ''Kun'yomi'' compound words are not as numerous as those with ''on'yomi'', but neither are they rare. Examples include 手紙 ''tegami'' "letter", 日傘 ''higasa'' "parasol", and the famous 神風 ''kamikaze'' "divine wind". Such compounds may also have okurigana, such as 空揚げ ''karaage'' "fried food" and 折り紙 ''origami'', although many of these can also be written with the okurigana omitted .

Similarly, some ''on'yomi'' characters can also be used as words in isolation: 愛 ''ai'' "love", 禅 ''Zen'', 点 ''ten'' "mark, dot". Most of these cases involve kanji that have no ''kun'yomi'', so there can be no confusion, although exceptions do occur. A lone 金 may be read as ''kin'' "gold" or as ''kane'' "money, metal"; only context can determine the writer's intended reading and meaning.

Multiple readings have given rise to a number of homographs, in some cases having different meanings depending on how they are read. One example is 上手, which can be read in three different ways: ''jōzu'' , ''uwate'' , or ''kamite'' . In addition, 上手い has the reading ''umai'' . Furigana is often used to clarify any potential ambiguities.

As stated above, 重箱 ''jūbako'' and 湯桶 ''yutō'' readings are also not uncommon. Indeed, all four combinations of reading are possible: ''on-on'', ''kun-kun'', ''kun-on'' and ''on-kun''.

Some famous place names, including those of Tokyo and Japan itself are read with ''on'yomi''; however, the majority of Japanese place names are read with ''kun'yomi'': 大阪 ''?saka'', 青森 ''Aomori'', 箱根 ''Hakone''. When characters are used as abbreviations of place names, their reading may not match that in the original. The Osaka and Kobe baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, take their name from the ''on'yomi'' of the second kanji of ''?saka'' and the first of ''Kōbe''. The name of the Keisei railway line, linking Tokyo and Narita is formed similarly, although the reading of 京 from 東京 is ''kei'', despite ''kyō'' already being an ''on'yomi'' in the word ''Tōkyō''.

Family names are also usually read with ''kun'yomi'': 山田 ''Yamada'', 田中 ''Tanaka'', 鈴木 ''Suzuki''. Given names, although they are not typically considered ''jūbako'' or ''yutō'', often contain mixtures of ''kun'yomi'', ''on'yomi'' and ''nanori'': 大助 ''Daisuke'' , 夏美 ''Natsumi'' . Being chosen at the discretion of the parents, the readings of given names do not follow any set rules and it is impossible to know with certainty how to read a person's name without independent verification. Parents can be quite creative, and rumours abound of children called 地球 ''?su'' and 天使 ''Enjeru'', quite literally "Earth" and "Angel"; neither are common names, and have normal readings ''chikyū'' and ''tenshi'' respectively. Common patterns do exist, however, allowing experienced readers to make a good guess for most names.

Pronunciation assistance

Because of the ambiguities involved, kanji sometimes have their pronunciation for the given context spelled out in ruby characters known as ''furigana'', or ''kumimoji'' . This is especially true in texts for children or foreign learners and ''manga'' . It is also used in newspapers for rare or unusual readings and for characters not included in the officially recognized set of .

Total number of kanji

The number of possible characters is disputed. The "Daikanwa Jiten" contains about 50,000 characters, and this was thought to be comprehensive, but more recent mainland Chinese dictionaries contain 80,000 or more characters, many consisting of obscure variants. Most of these are not in common use in either Japan or China.

Orthographic reform and lists of kanji

In 1946, following World War II, the Japanese government instituted a series of reforms. This was done with the goal of facilitating learning for children and simplifying kanji use in literature and periodicals.
The number of characters in circulation was reduced, and formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established.
Some characters were given simplified glyphs, called . Many variant forms of characters and obscure alternatives for common characters were officially discouraged.

These are simply guidelines, so many characters outside these standards are still widely known and commonly used; these are known as .

Kyōiku kanji

The ''Kyōiku kanji'' 教育漢字 are 1006 characters that Japanese children learn in elementary school. The number was 881 until 1981. The grade-level breakdown of the education kanji is known as the Gakunen-betsu kanji haitōhyō , or the ''gakushū kanji''.

Jōyō kanji

The ''Jōyō kanji'' 常用漢字 are 1,945 characters consisting of all the ''Kyōiku kanji'', plus an additional 939 kanji taught in junior high and high school. In publishing, characters outside this category are often given ''''. The ''Jōyō kanji'' were introduced in 1981. They replaced an older list of 1850 characters known as the General-use kanji introduced in 1946. The Japanese National Kanji Conference will add 11 new characters to the list, totaling 1956, to be enforced by 2010. These new characters are currently Jinmeiyō kanji and were previously not included in the Jōyō kanji, and are used to write prefecture names: 阪,熊,奈,岡,鹿,梨,阜,埼,茨,栃 and 媛。

Jinmeiyō kanji

The ''Jinmeiyō kanji'' 人名用漢字 are 2,928 characters consisting of the ''Jōyō kanji'', plus an additional 983 kanji found in people's names. Over the years, the Minister of Justice has on several occasions added to this list. Sometimes the phrase ''Jinmeiyō kanji'' refers to all 2928, and sometimes it only refers to the 983 that are only used for names.


are any kanji not contained in the jōyō kanji and jinmeiyō kanji lists. These are generally written using traditional characters, but extended shinjitai forms exist.

Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji

The Japanese Industrial Standards for kanji and kana define character code-points for each kanji and kana, as well as other forms of writing such as the Latin alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Greek alphabet, Hindu-Arabic numerals, etc. for use in information processing. They have had numerous revisions. The current standards are:
*, the most recent version of the main standard. It has 6,355 kanji.
* , a supplementary standard containing a further 5,801 kanji. This standard is rarely used, mainly because the common Shift JIS encoding system could not use it. This standard is effectively obsolete;
* , a further revision which extended the JIS X 0208 set with 3,625 additional kanji, of which 2,741 were in JIS X 0212. The standard is in part designed to be compatible with Shift JIS encoding;
* JIS X 0221:1995, the Japanese version of the ISO 10646/Unicode standard.


''Gaiji'' , literally meaning "external characters", are kanji that are not represented in existing . These include variant forms of common kanji that need to be represented alongside the more conventional glyph in reference works, and can include non-kanji symbols as well.

''Gaiji'' can be either user-defined characters or system-specific characters. Both are a problem for information interchange, as the codepoint used to represent an external character will not be consistent from one computer or operating system to another.

''Gaiji'' were nominally prohibited in JIS X 0208-1997, and JIS X 0213-2000 used the range of code-points previously allocated to ''gaiji'', making them completely unusable. Nevertheless, they persist today with NTT DoCoMo's "i-mode" service, where they are used for emoji .

Unicode allows for optional encoding of ''gaiji'' in . Adobe's SING technology allows the creation of customized gaiji. The uses a element to encode any non-standard character or glyph, including gaiji.

Types of Kanji: by category

A Chinese scholar Xu Shen , in the '''' ca. 100 , classified Chinese characters into six categories . The traditional classification is still taught but is problematic and no longer the focus of modern lexicographic practice, as some categories are not clearly defined, nor are they mutually exclusive: the first four refer to structural composition, while the last two refer to usage.


These characters are pictograms, sketches of the object they represent. For example, 目 is an eye, 木 is a tree, etc. . The current forms of the characters are very different from the original, and it is now hard to see the origin in many of these characters. It is somewhat easier to see in seal script. These make up a small fraction of modern characters.


''Shiji-moji'' are ideograms, often called "simple ideograms" or "simple indicatives" to distinguish them from compound ideograms . They are usually simple graphically and represent an abstract concept such as 上 "up" or "above" and 下 "down" or "below". These make up a tiny fraction of modern characters.


These are compound ideograms, often called "compound indicatives", "associative compounds", or just "ideograms". These are usually a combination of pictograms that combine iconicly to present an overall meaning. An example is the ''kokuji'' 峠 made from 山 , 上 and 下 . Another is 休 from 人 and 木 . These make up a tiny fraction of modern characters.


These phono-semantic or -phonetic compounds, sometimes called "semantic-phonetic", "semasio-phonetic", or "phonetic-ideographic" characters, are by far the largest category, making up about 90% of characters. Typically they are made up of two components, one of which suggests the general category of the meaning or semantic context, and the other approximates the pronunciation.

As examples of this, consider the kanji with the 言 shape: 語, 記, 訳, 説, etc. All are related to word/language/meaning. Similarly kanji with the 雨 shape are almost invariably related to weather. Kanji with the 寺 shape on the right usually have an ''on'yomi'' of "shi" or "ji". Sometimes one can guess the meaning and/or reading simply from the components. However, exceptions do exist — for example, neither 需 nor 霊 have anything to do with weather , and 待 has an ''on'yomi'' of "tai". That is, a component may play a semantic role in one compound, but a phonetic role in another.


This group have variously been called "derivative characters", "derivative cognates", or translated as "mutually explanatory" or "mutually synonymous" characters; this is the most problematic of the six categories, as it is vaguely defined. It may refer to kanji where the meaning or application has become extended. For example, 楽 is used for 'music' and 'comfort, ease', with different pronunciations in Chinese reflected in the two different ''on'yomi'', ''gaku'' 'music' and ''raku'' 'pleasure'.


These are rebuses, sometimes called "phonetic loans". The etymology of the characters follows one of the pattern above, but the present-day meaning is completely unrelated this. A character was appropriated to represent a similar sounding word. For example, 来 in ancient Chinese was originally a pictograph for 'wheat'. Its syllable was homophonous with the verb meaning 'to come' and the character is used for that verb as a result, without any embellishing 'meaning' element attached. Interestingly, the character for wheat 麦, originally meant 'to come', being a Keisei-moji having 'foot' at the bottom for its meaning part and 'wheat' at the top for sound. The two characters swapped meaning, so today the more common word has the simpler character. This borrowing of sounds has a very long history. 東 'east' is a pictograph of a bag on a stick, but it was used to mean 'east' very early in the history of the Chinese written language; not one example of it meaning 'bag on a stick' has survived.

Related symbols

The iteration mark is used to indicate that the preceding kanji is to be repeated, functioning similarly to a ditto mark in English. It is pronounced as though the kanji were written twice in a row, for example 色々 and 時々 . This mark also appears in personal and place names, as in the Sasaki . This symbol is a simplified version of the kanji 仝 .

Another frequently used symbol is ヶ , pronounced "ka" when used to indicate quantity or "ga" in place names like Kasumigaseki . This symbol is a simplified version of the kanji 箇.

Radical-and-stroke sorting

Kanji, whose thousands of symbols defy ordering by convention such as is used with the Roman Alphabet, uses radical-and-stroke sorting to order a list of Kanji words. In this system, common components of characters are identified; these are called in Chinese and logographic systems derived from Chinese, such as Kanji.

Characters are then grouped by their primary radical, then ordered by number of pen strokes within radicals. When there is no obvious radical or more than one radical, convention governs which is used for collation. For example, the Chinese character for "mother" is sorted as a thirteen-stroke character under the three-stroke primary radical meaning "woman".

Kanji education

Japanese schoolchildren are expected to learn 1,006 basic kanji characters, the ''kyōiku kanji'', before finishing the sixth grade. The order in which these characters are learned is fixed. The ''kyōiku kanji'' list is a subset of a larger list of 1,945 kanji characters known as the ''jōyō kanji'', characters required for the level of fluency necessary to read newspapers and literature in Japanese. This larger list of characters is to be mastered by the end of the ninth grade. Schoolchildren learn the characters by repetition and .

Students studying Japanese as a foreign language are often required to acquire kanji without having first learned the vocabulary associated with them. Strategies for these learners vary from copying-based methods to mnemonic-based methods such as those used in James Heisig's series ''Remembering the Kanji''. Other textbooks use methods based on the etymology of the characters, such as Mathias and Habein's ''The Complete Guide to Everyday Kanji'' and Henshall's ''A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters''. Pictorial mnemonics, as in the text ''Kanji Pict-o-graphix'', are also seen.

The Japanese government provides the ''Kanji kentei'' which tests the ability to read and write kanji. The highest level of the ''Kanji kentei'' tests about 6,000 kanji.


Hanja is the name for Chinese characters. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean phonetics. ''Hanja-mal'' or '''' refers to words which can be written with hanja, and ''hanmun'' refers to Classical Chinese writing, although "hanja" is sometimes used loosely to encompass these other concepts. Because hanja never underwent major reform, they are almost entirely identical to traditional Chinese and ''kyūjitai'' characters. Only a small number of hanja characters are modified or unique to Korean. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japanese and Chinese have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding hanja characters.

Although a phonetic Korean alphabet, now known as hangul, had been created by a team of scholars commissioned in the 1440's by , it did not come into widespread use until the late 19th and early 20th century. Thus, until that time it was necessary to be fluent in reading and writing hanja in order to be literate in Korean, as the vast majority of Korean literature and most other Korean documents were written in hanja. Today, hanja play a different role. Scholars who wish to study Korean history must study hanja in order to read historical documents. For the general public, learning a certain number of hanja is very helpful in understanding words that are formed with them, in much the same way that understanding Ancient Greek, Latin, and other ancient languages can give a deeper understanding of the Modern English vocabulary. Hanja are not used to write native Korean words, which are always rendered in hangul, and even words of Chinese origin — ''hanja-eo'' — are written with the native hangul alphabet most of the time.


A major impetus for the introduction of Chinese characters into Korea was the spread of . The major Chinese text that introduced hanja to Koreans, however, was not a religious text but the Chinese text, .

Koreans had to learn Classical Chinese to be properly literate for the most part, but there were some systems developed to use simplified forms of Chinese characters that phonetically transcribe Korean, namely, hyangchal , gugyeol , and idu .

One way of adapting hanja to write Korean in such systems was to represent native Korean grammatical particles and other words solely according to their pronunciation. For example, Gugyeol uses the characters 爲尼 to transcribe the Korean word "h?ni", in modern Korean, that means "does, and so". However, in Chinese, the same characters are read as the expression "wéi ní," meaning "becoming a nun." This is a typical example of Gugyeol words where the radical is read in Korean for its meaning and the suffix 尼, ni , used phonetically.

Hanja was the sole means of writing Korean until promoted the invention of hangul in the 15th century. However, even after the invention of hangul, most Korean scholars continued to write in hanmun.

It was not until the 20th century that hangul truly replaced hanja. Officially, hanja has not been used in North Korea since June 1949 , because Kim Il-sung considered it an artifact of and an impediment to literacy.

Additionally, many words borrowed from Chinese have been replaced in the North with native Korean words. However, there are a large number of Chinese-borrowed words in widespread usage in the North , and hanja characters still appear in special contexts, such as recent North Korean dictionaries .

Character formation

Each hanja is composed of one of 214 s plus in most cases one or more additional elements. The vast majority of hanja use the additional elements to indicate the sound of the character, but a few hanja are purely pictographic, and some were formed in other ways.


To aid in understanding the meaning of a character, or to describe it orally to distinguish it from other characters with the same pronunciation, character dictionaries and school textbooks refer to each character with a combination of its sound and a word indicating its meaning. This dual meaning-sound reading of a character is called ''eumhun'' .

For example, the character 愛 is referred to in character dictionaries as ''sarang ae'' , where ''sarang'' is the native Korean word for "love" and ''ae'' is its sound. Similarly, the character 人 is read as referred to as ''saram in'' , where "saram" means "person" and "in" is its sound. When these two example characters are put together to form the word 愛人, they are simply read as ''aein'' , and denote the idea of a beloved or sweetheart .

The word or words used to denote the meaning are often—though hardly always—words of native Korean origin, and are sometimes archaic words no longer commonly used. For example, the character 山 is referred to as ''me san'' or ''moe san'' , where ''me'' or ''moe'' is an archaic word for "mountain," almost entirely supplanted by the Chinese-derived word ''san.''


Hanja are still taught in separate courses in , apart from the normal Korean language curriculum. Formal hanja education begins in grade 7 and continues until graduation from senior high school in grade 12. A total of 1,800 hanja are taught: 900 for junior high, and 900 for senior high . Post-secondary hanja education continues in some liberal arts universities. The 1972 promulgation of basic hanja for educational purposes was altered in December 31, 2000, to replace 44 hanja with 44 others. The choice of characters to eliminate and exclude caused heated debates prior to and after the 2000 promulgation.

Though North Korea rapidly abandoned the general use of hanja soon after independence, the number of hanja actually taught in primary and secondary schools is greater than the 1,800 taught in South Korea. Kim Il-sung had earlier called for a gradual elimination of the use of hanja, but by the 1960s, he had reversed his stance; he was quoted as saying in 1966, "While we should use as few Sinitic terms as possible, students must be exposed to the necessary Chinese characters and taught how to write them." As a result, a Chinese-character textbook was designed for North Korean schools for use in grades 5-9, teaching 1,500 characters, with another 500 for high school students. College students are exposed to another 1,000, bringing the total to 3,000.

In Korean language and Korean studies programs at universities around the world, a sample of hanja is typically a requirement for students. Becoming a graduate student in these fields usually requires students to learn at least the 1,800 basic hanja.

Current uses of hanja

Because many different hanja—and thus, many different words written using hanja—often share the same sounds, two distinct hanja words may be spelled identically in the phonetic hangul alphabet. Thus, hanja are often used to clarify meaning, either on their own without the equivalent hangul spelling, or in parentheses after the hangul spelling as a kind of gloss. Hanja are often also used as a form of shorthand in newspaper headlines, advertisements, and on signs. Some details of use follow.

Hanja in print media

In South Korea, hanja are used most frequently in academic literature, where they often appear without the equivalent hangul spelling. Usually, only those words with a specialized or ambiguous meaning are printed in hanja. In mass-circulation books and magazines, hanja are generally used rarely, and only to gloss words already spelled in hangul when the meaning is ambiguous. Hanja are also often used in newspaper headlines as abbreviations or to eliminate the ambiguity typical of newspaper headlines in any language. In formal publications, personal names are also usually glossed in hanja in parentheses next to the hangul. In contrast, North Korea eliminated the use of hanja even in academic publications by 1949, a situation which has since remained unchanged. Hanja are often used for advertising or decorative purposes, and appear frequently in dictionaries and atlases; see below.

Hanja in dictionaries

In modern Korean dictionaries, all entry words of Sino-Korean origin are printed in hangul and listed in hangul order, with the hanja given in parentheses immediately following the entry word.

This practice helps to eliminate ambiguity, and it also serves as a sort of shorthand etymology, since the meaning of the hanja and the fact that the word is composed of hanja often help to illustrate the word's origin.

As an example of how hanja can help to clear up ambiguity, many homophones are written in hangul as ?? , including:

# 修道 — spiritual discipline
# 受渡 — receipt and delivery
# 囚徒 — prisoner
# 水都 — 'city of water'
# 水稻 — rice
# 水道 — drain
# 隧道 — tunnel
# 首都 — capital
# 手刀 — hand-knife

Hanja dictionaries are organized by s, like hanzi and kanji.

Hanja in personal names

are generally based on hanja, although some exceptions exist. On business cards, the use of hanja is slowly fading away, with most older people displaying their names in hanja while most of the younger generation utilizes Hangul. Korean personal names usually consist of a one-character family name followed by a two-character given name . There are a few 2-character family names , and the holders of such names — but not only them — tend to have one-syllable given names. Traditionally, the given name in turn consists of one character unique to the individual and one character shared by all people in a family of the same sex and generation . Things have changed, however, and while these rules are still largely followed, some people have given names that are native Korean words . Nevertheless, on official documents, people's names are still recorded in both hangul and in hanja .

Hanja in place names

Due to standardization efforts during Goryeo and eras, native Korean placenames were converted to hanja, and most names used today are hanja-based. The most notable exception is the name of the capital, Seoul- although Seoul is the English pronunciation of 首府 which literally mean 'Capital'. Disyllabic names of railway lines, freeways, and provinces are often formed by taking one character from each of the two locales' names. For Seoul, the abbreviation is the hanja ''gyeong'' . Thus,
* The Gyeongbu corridor connects Seoul with Busan ;
* The Gyeongin corridor connects Seoul with Incheon ;
* The former Jeolla Province took its name from the first characters in the city names Jeonju and Naju .

Most atlases of Korea today are published in two versions: one in hangul , and one in hanja. Subway and railway station signs give the station's name in hangul, hanja, and English, both to assist visitors and to disambiguate the name.

Hanja usage

Opinion surveys show that the South Korean public do not consider hanja literacy essential, a situation attributed to the fact that hanja education in South Korea does not begin until the seventh year of schooling. Hanja terms are also expressed through hangul, the standard script in the Korean language. Some studies suggest that hanja use appears to be in decline. In 1956, one study found mixed-script Korean text were read faster than texts written purely in hangul; however, by 1977, the situation had reversed. In 1988, 80% of one sample of people without a college education "evinced no reading comprehension of any but the simplest, most common hanja" when reading mixed-script passages.

Korean hanja

A small number of characters were invented by Koreans themselves. Most of them are for proper names but some refer to Korean-specific concepts and materials. They include 畓 , 乭 , ? , and 怾 .

Some hanja characters have simplified forms '''' that can be seen in casual use. An example is , which is a cursive form of 無. Some of them are similar to Japanese ''shinjitai'' .


Each hanja character is pronounced as a single syllable, corresponding to a single composite character in hangul. The pronunciation of hanja in Korean is not identical to the way they are pronounced in Chinese, particularly , although some Chinese dialects and Korean share similar pronunciations for some characters. For example, 印刷 "print" is ''yìnshuā'' in Mandarin Chinese and ''inswae'' in Korean, but it is pronounced ''insue'' in Shanghainese . One obvious difference is the complete loss of from Korean while all Chinese dialects retain tone. In other aspects, the pronunciation of hanja is more conservative than most Chinese dialects, for example in the retention of labial consonant s in characters with labial consonant s, such as the characters 法 and 凡 ; the labial codas existed in Middle Chinese but do not survive intact in most Chinese varieties today, including conservative southern varieties like and .

Due to divergence in pronunciation since the time of borrowing, sometimes the pronunciation of a hanja and its corresponding hanzi may differ considerably. For example, 女 is ''nǚ'' in Mandarin Chinese and ''nyeo'' in Korean. However, in most modern Korean dialects , 女 is pronounced as ''yeo'' when used in an initial position, due to a systematic displacement of initial ''n'''s followed by ''y'' or ''i''.

Additionally, sometimes a hanja-derived word will have altered pronunciation of a character to reflect Korean pronunciation shifts, for example mogwa ?? 木果 "quince" from mokgwa ??.

Hanja analogs

There are historical similarities in the development of the hanja and kanji, which is the analog used in Japan, and there are also similarities in application between hanja and kanji. The archaic Japanese ''man'yōgana'' system of reading is similar to ''gugyeol.'' The '''' and '''' readings of kanji, whereby a character may be read according to its Chinese-derived sound or its native Japanese meaning , is similar in concept to ''eumhun.''