Using Kanji to express words that are usually written in Kana

Why hello there.

I have a friend who is a beginner at Japanese like me and we’ve been using different resources for studying. One thing I’ve noticed when I converse with him online in Japanese is that he always uses Kanji if a word can be written in Kanji. He writes 此処 (ここ)、何処(どこ)、何時(いつ)、貴方(あなた), 在る(ある)、 etc. The first time he used 何処, I thought “Hey! I know 何! It’s probably read as “なん” in this case! Maybe!” and then I looked up the reading for 処 and it was ところ so I came up with なんところ/なんどころ and thought “yea that seems pretty legit.” It turns out it was not. T~T

Anyway, getting slightly, ever so slightly off topic there, is it wrong to use Kanji versions of words that are usually written in Kana? I asked him why he does it and he said that it was because people get confused about what he’s saying when he only writes in Kana (which I do admit has happened once when he wrote いる in Kana). Should he change this writing habit or is it fine to use Kanji for words usually written in Kana?

It’s not wrong to do this, assuming you choose the right kanji, but it looks strange for online chatting. I see 如何 in the lines that the disembodied voice in Persona 5 speaks to you, but it’s supposed to sound like an ancient god or something.

If you are using the words correctly, there really shouldn’t be much confusion between identical kana words like いる (to be) and いる (to need), or any other いる.

2 Likes

Although there’s nothing wrong, it’s not usual to write that way in conversations between friends either. I don’t know the exact reason why there was confusion before (perhaps word choice or particle usage since you mentioned they are a beginner), but doing the opposite extreme doesn’t really help things either.

EDIT: I fact, rather than just telling them to stop. It’d be more productive to have them ask those individuals for feedback to make clearer sentences. That would probably help the best.

2 Likes

There is sometimes a tendency for people new to using IMEs to hyper-convert everything into kanji. 有難う御座います out the wazoo. This, however, is very much a case of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.

2 Likes

Yeah… this also just unnecessarily raises the level of difficulty. 有る and 在る are two ways to write ある, but they have different uses. 有る is used for if something exists, like 財産が有る (to have assets) and 在る is used for talking about something existing in a spot, like 東京に在る (to be in Tokyo). My guess is that even if your friend knows that particular distinction, they will be in over their head soon enough with many other similar nuances.

And the ある in things like ある日 (a certain day, one day) is written 或. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kanji used.

3 Likes

I do believe that it looks rather strange to use kanji in the way explained above since it’s for chatting purposes.

As you gain a large amount of exposure to the written language you begin to understand when it’s “normal” to use kanji and when it comes across as stiff etc. It’s not wrong however :face_with_monocle:

Something like this yes…

1 Like

The only places I have seen those written in kanji are in some song lyrics and anime related things.
Here is an example: https://utaten.com/lyric/Roselia/軌跡/

I haven`t even encountered them in official documents here in Japan. In most conversations, only nouns, verbs, and words related to time are put into kanji. But it really depends on the person. On a side note, using predominantly hiragana gives a cuter or childish nuance at times. As Leebo said, using a lot of kanji like that, even to unnecessary lengths is common in the anime/manga world as it is considered at times complex and cool. (especially for high school boys)

As a rule of thumb, kanji should be used to make the meaning of a given word clear. This is because there are a lot of words with the same hiragana spelling but much different meanings.

3 Likes

I’ve seen 何処 for どこ when reading (nothing particularly fancy or high level). Sometimes writing in kanji could really cause confusion. I assume most people would read 何時 as なんじ and would be confused (even if briefly) if it was intended as いつ.

4 Likes

Oh… I realized that I forgot to reply back…

Thanks for all the replies! I managed to convince my friend to stop going all Kanji-galore and he is now writing most of these words in Kana.

3 Likes

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.