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Why does the word "English" have kanji?

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Why does the word "English" have kanji? 2012/2/17 08:59
I've been studying Japanese for two years now, and it just struck me that "English" is the only foreign language in Japanese that has it's own kanji. Why does English have one and no other foreign language?

Is my idea correct that the English settlers went to Japan before the invention of katakana, leading to the Japanese giving English its own kanji?

by Mahari-san (guest)  

Re: Why does the word 2012/2/17 10:54
Chinese has it too ’†‘Œκ, so does Korean@ŠΨ‘Œκ, and French •§Œκ(less commonly used in conversations these days)
by naes (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why does the word 2012/2/17 11:07
Almost all countries/languages have kanji, it's just they are rarely used- Ό”Η‰εŒκ (spanish), “ΖˆνŒκigerman) etc. Before katakana they attached kanji with the same sounds to the country (in most cases-•Δ‘ sounds nothing like America), but now it is much easier for people to use katakana. I imagine English gets to keep it's kanji because it's short and easy. You do see •Δ‘‰p‰ο˜b@and ‰p‘‰p‰ο˜b to distinguish between places teaching American and British English.
by vita (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why does the word 2012/2/17 11:56
I am not sure what exactly you are talking but some points for you to understand the history and nature of Japanese letters:

1. Kanji (ideogram) letters were introduced (imported) from China about 1500 years ago. I guess it came in with the introduction of budhism.

2. Katakana and Hiragana (both phonogram) were invented by Japanese about 1300 years ago by deforming Kanji to simplify on order to describe easiliy the original Japanese language. Calligraphy helped this movement.

Hiragana ‚  is aledgedly a transformation of Kanji ˆΐBKatakana ƒA is from the left half of Kanji ˆ’.

3. The names of foreign things including the country names like America had to be written in some way since late 19th century. So they used both Kanji(ideogram) and Katakana (phonogrma) to destribe them in writing. Funny thing was they used Kanji as phonogram because Kanji was the official letters in official documents. They picked up the same sound from tons of Kanji letters.

America = ˆŸ•Δ—˜‰Α in kanji or ƒAƒƒŠƒJ in katakana
Germany@=@“Ζˆν or ƒhƒCƒc
Holland = ˆ’—–‘Ι or ƒIƒ‰ƒ“ƒ_

Both read the same sounds.

Therefore, most of the nations have their own Kanji notation in Japanese.

Nowadays, katakana is normaly used to write the names of foreign countries in documents. But in some cases like when you want to say 'American minitary' in news paper, it is wrtten like •ΔŒR@(•Δ from ˆŸ•Δ—˜‰Α and ŒRmilitary) because it is shorter and save space. If you use ˆŸ in this case, it means Asia. So the second letter is picked.

Hope this does not confuse you.


by Jay Key (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Why does the word 2012/2/17 17:07
Oh, sure!
ƒhƒCƒcŒκ, ƒtƒ‰ƒ“ƒXŒκ, ƒXƒyƒCƒ“Œκ and ‰pŒκ.
Because ƒCƒMƒŠƒXŒκ and ƒAƒƒŠƒJŒκ are not used, I wonder?

Historically, Spanish, Portuguese and Netherlander visited Japan in the 16th century.
So it's said that some Japanese come from Portuguese.
And in the late 18th century, Japanese studied hard from France and German especially.

by ajapaneseboy rate this post as useful

Re: Why does the word 2012/2/18 12:39
Excellent explanation, Jay.

To the OP:
As a student, you may not encounter some of the confusing aspects of Japanese but trust me, in the professional world these characters are alive and well.

The Katakana versions are long so in print media it is quite common to use the Kanji versions of country names. In addition to newspapers, magazines, broadcast subtitling you will often see them used in contracts and other very official documents (here it's mostly just a matter of style and preference on the part of the person creating the document).

by kyototrans rate this post as useful

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