How much do Japanese Kanji compare to Chinese characters?

Hi everyone, so I recently went to a Chinese restaurant and was suprised how many chinese letters I could understand (or atleast knew their kanji meaning). How much do Kanji compare to their original chinese meanings?

How you also notices how many chinese characters you know after spending time on WaniKani?

I’ve just started giving Chinese a go, and knowing Japanese definitely helps, but it is a bit hit-and-miss!

Some very common words like 他 (he), 是 (is) 這 (this) 的 (same as の in Japanese) are completely different.

Some you can kinda figure out like 了 which indicates completed action or 地方 which means place or direction or 好 which means good (the hao part of ni hao :slight_smile: )

Then there are a ton of character compounds (like 火山, 地面 etc etc) that are the same just with Chinese pronunciation! This is where knowing Japanese helps a lot!

EDIT: Then some are just… weird… like 東西 (literally east-west) which means “thing” :slight_smile:
Also, I find it super cute that 小朋友 (literally, small friend) means child!


Kanji tend to resemble the traditional forms of Chinese characters fairly closely, but there’s some differences. For example, 言 as a radical is the same in traditional Chinese, while it’s 讠 in simplified. On the other hand, 学 matches the simplified form - the traditional form is 學.


Also, Japanese kanji are often a tiny bit simplified compared to their traditional Chinese counterparts.

Like 剣 is 劍 in traditional Chinese. But even though it’s slightly more complex there’s no way you won’t understand what it means.

EDIT: Maybe I just said exactly what you just said :sweat_smile:


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