It’s also a bit amusing that 亜 is the first letter of both 亜米利加, 亜細亜, 亜剌比亜 and 亜国/亜爾然丁, which can lead to some confusion. It also means that a word like 亜人 can have a very interesting span of meanings:
It was used for creating kanji for foreign words, back in Ye Olden Days before katakana was invented, but that’s far from the only use. Common words like 布団, 寿司, 馬鹿, 無駄, 素敵 and 可愛い are all ateji. In the eighties, there was even a slang use for ateji, using it to write common phrases in complicated or obscure kanji, such as 倶楽部 or 夜露死苦.
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