干 versus 乾

So a couple of levels ago, Wanikani told me “干” means “dry” and is pronounced “カン”. Now I am level 29 and Wanikani tells me “乾” also means “dry” and is also pronounced “カン”.

In Chinese, for that meaning, “” is the simplified form of “”.

What’s going on here? Why Japanese needs both these characters?
Any explanation?
Do you know any other character that is kept in Japanese both in its traditional and simplified form?

Thank you.

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The article also says

This character, 干, is the simplified form of 幹.

As one of the etymologies at least. This makes more sense to me than 乾 since 幹 actually contains the 干 part. For 乾 it says it’s a variant form.

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Yeah. Personally, that character is one of the various reasons I am not very fond of simplified Chinese.

I don’t like Simplified Chinese much either. In a way, the simplified characters make it more complex.

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And not as necessary anymore nowadays, unless there is still a lot of handwriting going on…

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Japanese “kept” all the traditional forms of everything that got simplified, in that you can legally use all of them for names if a simplification occurred. I’m studying all of them now for Kanken…

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I made some searchs.

According to Wiktionnary, all the vocabularies taught by Wanikani using 乾 can be written with 干 in simplified Chinese:
乾季 become 干季
乾杯 become 干杯
乾燥 become 干燥
It raises a question: Why Japanese would have kept the classical form in these words if it also has 干? I think I might have an explanation :slight_smile:

First lets notice 干 is not included in shinjitai lists.

Now, lets look at Wanikani’s vocabularies using 干 :
干天 - It seems Chinese prefer 旱天. Something interesting here: There is that character 旱 that has 干 for phonetic component. In Chinese, 旱 is pronounced hàn, while 干 is pronounced gān. In Japanese, it also has カン for onyomi. In any case, it might explain why it did make sense to chose 干 as a simplification of 乾.
梅干 - Chinese uses 酸梅. The Chinese word is not very helpful. Lets just mention that 干 seems to mean “dry” here.
干渉 - Chinese uses 干涉, which is about the same. However, lets notice 干 is not used as a simplification of 乾. Here 干 has the meaning “to interfere”, which is the meaning of the vocabulary.
干潟 - Wiktionnary does not know that vocabulary. Google Translate suggests 潮灘 (which Wiktionnary does not know either). That translation is funny because it contains 龺, the common radical in 乾 and 幹, which are both 干 in simplified Chinese. I think it is only a coincidence. These are not pronounced the same. I don’t know more. I have no idea whether this translation is accurate or not.
欄干 - classical Chinese uses both 闌干 and 欄杆. Wanikani uses a combination of the two, which seems to be quite common. Here, 干 seems to have the meaning of “defend”.

Lets look at other Japanese words containing 干
干戈 - Weapon
干害 - drought damage
干拓 - Land reclamation
干犯 - violation
干物 - dry goods (乾物 is also used)
水干 - “cloth that has been stretched and dried using only water and no starch”. That one is interesting: here 干 clearly means “dry”, and Wiktionnary suggests the word is from middle Chinese. It even has two sources, but these are books we would have to find in a library. It suggests 干 already had the meaning of “dry” a long time ago.
干し草 - hay
若干 - a little, a few
… and some other stuff

My analysis: 干 might be an old unofficial simplification of 旱 (I have no proof on that claim), that became official only recently in China. However, “dry” is not the primary meaning of that character, it is used in many other words where it does not have that meaning. That meaning appears to be a old one, however it is not a natural reason to “simplify” all the occurrences of 乾 to 干. We already complained on this subject.
Wanikani chose the meaning “dry” for simplicity.

I’d rather just not think about what happens in (modern) Chinese. I’ve got enough on my plate. Are you asking about it because you are already familiar with Chinese?

If you look at a Japanese resource like Kanjipedia, they have lots of definitions. WaniKani always chooses one main definition for a kanji, so I don’t see 干 as a special case in that regard.

Well. It seems you need to have studied Chinese to think of 干 as the simplified form of 乾 when it means “dry”, since it is the case in Chinese but not in Japanese.

I also think it is very interesting to compare Chinese and Japanese and to see how the same characters got different stories. And I think that 干 character might have an interesting one when it means “dry”.