Im actually kinda appreciating kanji now

When I decided to learn Japanese, I was super thrown off by the use of kanji in the writing system. I grew up learning Korean where everything is written out using the Korean alphabet (I only formally learned one hanja) and I wished Japanese would just be written out in hiragana/katakana.

But now that I’ve learned a few kanji, I really like it! Sure, it’s a problem for literacy rates, but in terms of vocab building I think it’s great and so profound. As I learn a new kanji or vocab, I recall the Korean translation and I feel like I now truly understand what the word means in Korean (and in Japanese, of course). Vocab gets easier to remember because I understand how the word came about rather than just brute force flashcard memorizing things like I did learning Korean vocab.

I’m also a visual learner so when I read a Japanese sentence (given I recognize the kanji), I can recall the vocab much more quickly than if it was plainly written out.

For example, I was taking a beginner Japanese class where we learned ごご、ごぜん and I always got them mixed up. But as soon as I learned the kanji 午後、午前 it’s so easy to remember now!

Only at level 9, excited for more!


Isn’t the Japanese literacy rate higher than in South Korea?

But anyway, yeah, reading Japanese without kanji feels like a handicap. Perhaps Korean has fewer homophones though, I’m not sure.


ah sorry I didn’t mean the actual national literacy rate. I guess I mean how quickly can one be able to read everything.


It’s an interesting point though. I could see it affecting literacy on a broader scale. Since Hangul is more or less completely phonetic (as far as I know?), if you’re a fluent Korean speaker but don’t know how to read Hangul, you could learn how to read pretty quickly. Same can’t be said of Japanese - and there are definitely a lot of older native Japanese people or people that were raised outside of Japan but with Japanese who can’t read very well at all.

I imagine the higher literacy rates in Japan vs Korea are more down to historical events affecting economy and education rather than what writing system they use

Anyway as for your main point of the thread, I totally agree having meaning embedded in the characters is very helpful once you know them! Especially when it comes to reading more specialised terminology that you probably don’t have a reason to know - you can just guess the meaning without having to look it up


That’s something I always wonder about Korean. The connection to kanji is lost since more than 500 years now, so I wonder if words pronuncuation started to drift all over the place and it’s now quite difficult to trace back from which kanji the words originated too ?

It’s only been in recent decades that Korea has completely stopped using Hanja (Kanji). While Hangul has indeed been around for more than 500 years, it’s said that the Korean literary elite saw it as a threat to their status and various kings after King Sejong had also banned its use, meaning Hanja remained the official method of writing for centuries after.

You can see old newspapers like these that show Kanji and Hangul used in conjunction much like Japanese.


Wow, I knew that Korea still use Hanja nowadays from time to time to distinguish homophone, but those ww2 newspaper are something else entirely. As you said, quite fascinating actually how the hangul+hanja combination looks fairly close the japanese hiragana+kanji.

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And the few horizontal text was still written right to left
for example, the date, on top and to the left of the latin letters title reads: 一九四五年十一月一日 (木曜日)

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