Kanji that the Japanese don’t even know are kanji

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I hope you’ve got a good Japanese font loaded, otherwise this survey from goo Ranking into characters that Japanese are surprised to find aren’t actually symbols.

The two characters that make up one of my favourite word appear in this list, 凸凹 dekoboko, which means what it looks like, unevenness. Even better, the two kanji in isolation have the meanings of convex and concave.

Note that a number of the meanings are radical; this means that they are just components of other kanji and often don’t actually have a meaning on their own.
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2012 was disordered, 2013 may well be too

Macromill Research recently conducted a ranking survey into 2012 trends.

Demographics

Between the 1st and 3rd of December 2012 exactly 1,000 members of the Macromill monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. The sample was 50:50 male and female, and exactly 20% in each of their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties.

I find the votes for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Momoiro Clover Z rather surprising, as I thought they both would have a very narrow demographic of fan. Talking of fans, I remember seeing an interview with some of their fans. One of the group’s signature moves is stage diving, so the fans have a very particular way of linking arms for catching them that ensures no-one either accidentally (or deliberately) cops a feel.

Here’s a video of Ms Pamyu, which is also rather disordered…


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Japanese kanji with surprising Chinese meanings

goo Ranking recently took a look at which Japanese kanji had surprising Chinese meanings.

Demographics

Between the 23rd and 26th of March 2011 1,070 members of the goo Research monitor group completed a private internet-base questionnaire. 53.4% of the sample were female, 10.2% in their teens, 13.1% in their twenties, 24.7% in their thirties, 23.7% in their forties, 13.3% in their fifties, and 15.0% aged sixty or older. Note that the score in the results refers to the relative number of votes for each option, not a percentage of the total sample.

For this survey I believe people were provided with a list of words and asked to choose the most suprising, rather than a free choice.

UPDATE: Koichi of Tofugu made a video of the survey!


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Computers versus literacy

Has your kanji reading deteriorated since starting with computers? graph of japanese statisticsWith the ubiquity of computers and cell phones, penmanship skills become less and less used. To see how this affects the average Japanese, japan.internet.com reported on a survey conducted by JR Tokai Express Research Inc into handwriting and character input. This is a survey I’d love to see in full!

Demographics

Over the 21st and 22nd of April 2008 330 members of the JR Tokai Express Research online monitor pool completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 51.8% of the sample was female, 3.6% in their teens, 16.7% in their twenties, 36.1% in their thirties, 28.5% in their forties, 8.8% in their fifties, 5.8% in their sixties, and 0.6% aged seventy or older.

I translated a similar survey on literacy back in June of 2006. This time almost 60% had over 10 years of computer usage, and in total almost 90% had over five years experience, so this sample mostly contained mature users.

I use the computer on the whole to prepare documents, but when being creative, in particular when forming ideas, I use paper to sketch out, as the limitations of a keyboard stunt my inventive processes. Meeting minutes and notes are also always done on paper as I can simultaneously write and listen better than I can type and listen. Also, if I can’t be bothered switching on my computer in the train I’ll just use paper there.
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Kanji of the Year 2007

The Kanji Kentei (Japanese kanji test) parent organisation in Tokyo, in conjunction with Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, has announced the results of an open public poll for the one kanji that best represents the year.

90,816 people voted by internet, postcard and by attending the temple in person, and the top kanji chosen by them was 偽, nise, gi, meaning imitation, deception, or bogus. This year has been full of such stories; it started off with fake health benefits from natto, and continued with one scandal after another, from construction companies faking earthquake resistance to beef-free beef croquettes. This leads us to the number two choice, 食, shoku, food, where in addition to the ironically-named Meat Hope beef mentioned before, trusted souvenir brands Akafuku and Shiroi Koibito amongst others got caught reusing ingredients that had passed their expiry dates. To round out the bad news, third was 嘘, uso, lies, which claimed the life of one politician this year.

These pessimistic characters are a marked contrast from the last two years; 2006 was 命, inochi, life, and 2005 was 愛, ai, love.

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Kanji ability in children and adults

What do you do when you cannot write a kanji? graph of japanese statisticsWith the ubiquity of mobile phones and computers with kanji input abilities, both the need to remember and the opportunities for writing kanji, the Japanese language’s main script, has decreased. In addition, worries about education includes whether children are really learning kanji correctly. Thus, goo Research, in conjuction with the Mainichi Shimbun, conducted a survey into kanji ability.

Demographics

Between the 25th and 27th of May 2007 1,101 randomly selected internet users aged 20 or over (presumably chosen from goo Research’s monitor pool) completed this survey. More detailed demographic information is not available.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m studying for the Kanji Kentei examination in order to up my ability, particularly from the point of view of writing. Reading is relatively easy, and with a computer to aid you, electronic entry is not that bothersome at all, yet even my wife, who was always top of the class in school with kanji, occasionally forgets how to write even relatively common characters and has to resort to an electronic dictionary to crib the correct character from.
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Kanji of the Year 2006 – Results

NOTE: Click here for the Kanji of the Year 2007 results.

The results for the Kanji of the Year 2006 are finally released. Although perhaps much of the English language Japanese press has already covered the top three (I thought the results were released today, not yesterday!), this blog entry will cover the top 20 in full, plus language notes as the survey is sponsored by the 漢字検定, kanji kentei, a kanji training and testing company. I’ll also add my views on each kanji.

There were 92,509 total votes submitted from the start of November to the start of December; 4,534 were sumbitted on postcards, 408 by fax, 36,936 through a web page, 15,968 through vote collection boxes located in 111 places nationwide, and 34,663 total votes through 451 groups, presumably schools or other educational or cultural groups.

One big theme for the year was “life”, which heavily influenced the voting. First, a key story of this year was the birth of a male in the royal lineage, the first in forty years, and now second in line to the throne, Hisahito, the offspring of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko and, I suspect, some medical wizardry. Next, bullying caused many schoolchildren to commit suicide, and drunk drivers also took many lives. From a statistical viewpoint, I have yet to see the raw data, so I cannot be sure if there has actually been an increase in either of these two death rates, or if it is just an increase in reporting.

Other life-related news story were Kim Il-Jong’s nukes, old folks’ increased medical costs, problems with transplanting dodgy organs, doctor shortages, and so on.

Talking of the Kanji Kentei, if you’re wanting to study for it, there is new software out for the Nintendo DS that covers the syllabus for all 12 kanji levels, from total novice to 6,000 character wizards.
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Kanji of the Year 2006

UPDATE: I have now translated the results of the Kanji of the Year 2006 survey.

Continuing with the words of the year theme, I’ve had a couple of people searching for this, so I had a quick look up on the web, and I found this page (in Japanese, of course) that describes how to enter – the deadline is the 13th of December. Note that as there is a prize draw, and to prevent multiple entries, you need to register for an account before voting for your character for this year. My bets for this year are either 美, the kanji from 美しい, utsukushii, beautiful, from Prime Minister Abe’s catch-phrase, “Towards a beautiful Japan”, or 格, kaku, which means status or character, and features in popular phrases such as 品格 and 格差, hinkaku and kakusa, dignity and disparity. As for my actual vote, I haven’t decided yet.

The results are announced sometime around the New Year at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto.

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Computers improve kanji reading, degrade writing

Have computers degraded your kanji reading skill? graph of japanese opinionjapan.internet.com recently republished a report from Cross Marketing Inc on how people’s kanji ability has been affected by computers. They interviewed 300 people in the middle of June via a private internet questionnaire. Exactly half the sample was of each sex, and similarly exactly a sixth were in their teens (well, aged 18 or 19), a sixth in their twenties, and so on up to the sixties.

I’m not too surprised by the results of this survey. Informational programs on TV have occasionally mentioned how the wide availability of mobile phone email and the rich dictionaries within the handsets has encouraged people to convert more words to kanji, even those words that use characters outside the recommended set. In addition, with kanji more text can be crammed into a message than if things were spelt out fully in kana.
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Ninja spirit of contemporary Japan

kanji character for ninIn mid-November of last year DIMSDRIVE Research asked 5000 members of their internet monitor group, 50.8% of them female, to tell them what kanji character best described themselves.

There is another more famous Kanji of the Year survey performed by Kiyomizu Temple and the Kanji Kentei organisation that chose 愛, ai, love as the character of the year, but that vote is for the character best representing the year in general, not people themselves. Given that “love” is a positive emotion, it is quite a contrast (and rather depressing) that almost all of the kanji chosen here represent negative feelings or thoughts.

For me personally, I’d probably choose 疲, tsukare, tired out.
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