Using kana instead of kanji (to write faster)?

Hello. I’ve seen many a time native people using hiragana instead of one or more kanji to, perhaps, save time? I could understand if that was the case when writing something using a pen and paper (excluding formal works), however I’ve seen this happen even online where you have the kanji at the tip of your fingers (missing keyboard buttons?).

Two of the more common ones I’ve seen are:
行く written as いく (iku)
好き written as すき (suki)

It made me think of those questions about the reason(s) why the Japanese are still using kanji when everything could be written using the alphabets.

I realized that when I’m reading something and I see hiragana instead of the kanji I know is supposed to be there, my brain simply pauses for a second before understanding what that word is. When I stumble over 行きます it’s enough for me to see the kanji to guess the rest of the word, whereas when seeing いきます it just takes that extra .1 of a second for my brain to click.

It’s all the more difficult the longer a sentence is.

Have you encountered any other words where hiragana is used instead of kanji? Any idea why?

To draw a (perhaps) fun parallel, I would like to remind people of Typoglycemia. According to recent research, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
(You can understand it, it’s just weird).

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Simple test: type something with a Japanese input, hit spacebar, look at the bazilllion of suggests that pop up. It’s the same leaving out the spaces in your garbled text, as well :slight_smile:

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It is indeed somewhat of an inconvenience. I would argue however that it doesn’t really apply to very common words such as 行く and 好き ?

Edit: I just realized it might not have been an argument as to why they write hiragana instead of kanji, but instead for why they cannot give up kanji in favor of kana. My bad.
It is however a good reason for doing just that, because you don’t have to bother scrolling through kanji when you can understand the meaning through context.

I would say “completely unreadable” if you wanted to get rid of all kanji :slight_smile:

There are probably lots of reasons

  • save time (for common words where the meaning is perfectly clear)
  • trying not to appear like a show-off with your fancy kanji skills
  • uncommon kanji (like species of fish in a menu or something)
  • emphasis
  • convention (stuff like いく or する are written in kana)

Just remembered I posted this some time ago:


Just so there is no confusion, I’m by no means arguing against kanji. The opposite in fact.
There is a bit of a running joke in Japan which I’m probably going to get wrong but it goes something like this:

As long as 口内射精祭 (intraoral ejaculation festival) and 校内写生祭 (school sketching festival) have the same pronunciation, Japan wouldn’t be able to drop kanji.


Natives can read it just fine though. Also, according to Legend the original Tale of Genji was written in almost 100% Kana. One would thing neither the legend nor the possible truth would be possible if this was the case.

Anyway, main point here, don’t over-rely on Kanji. It will hurt you in the long run. There are many reasons why Kanji may not be used. And at the end of the day you are learning Japanese, not Kanji.

Last fun fact, this exists in Japanese as well, the first version I could Google:

こんちには みさなん おんげき ですか? わしたは げんき です。
この ぶんょしう は いりぎす の ケブンッリジ だがいく の けゅきんう の けっか
にんんげ は もじ を にしんき する とき その さしいょ と さいご の もさじえ あいてっれば
じばんゅん は めくちちゃゃ でも ちんゃと よめる という けゅきんう に もづいとて
わざと もじの じんばゅん を いかれえて あまりす。
どでうす? ちんゃと よゃちめう でしょ?
ちんゃと よためら はのんう よしろく


Often auxiliary verbs are left in hiragana form. So, 出てくる instead of 出て来る. Or 読んでいく instead of 読んで行く. It’s just the helping verb usage of these, as opposed to physical coming and going.

Just wanted to distinguish that from other forms of leaving things in hiragana, which might just be personal preference, etc.

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We are probably talking about different things, even a native will find a hard to say what 「しょうこうです。」 is supposed to mean, except if they are clairvoyant or something. With enough context you can understand more things, and your writing style in kana only is probably also different from what is in use today.

I would imagine people write in kana sometimes because it’s faster, and they already know the word they mean so it’s not like they are going to be struggling to figure it out later.

I buy Japanese language children’s books second hand from time to time (as I find them) and they often use a lot of kana, even for what I would consider relatively easy kanji, even when they also use furigana.

はのんう しいっまてす。

In context しょうこうです will probably make perfect sense though. Language never exists in a vacuum. And just about anything is vague in a vacuum. That’s like saying someone just up and saying “This” out of nowhere is ambiguous"

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