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  5. Why Korean barely uses ideogr…


Why Korean barely uses ideograms and Japanese does a lot?

I'm going attend a debate with 5 subjects. One of them is about kanji. We need to say our opinion about what should happen with kanji: eliminate all of them, limit the number (like was done in 1946) or don't do anything (keep the same number).

I don't want kanji to be eliminate. For me, they don't have to limit the number, but I will not complain if they do. I think kanji is very important to the culture and makes the reading easier. I've been searching a lot to the debate and I realized that Korean barely uses its hanja... I'm afraid of someone using this argument against me, like, "if Korean does, why can't Japanese do too?". I'm still searching but I can't find any answer to it... can anyone help me? I will appreciate a lot...

Thanks in advance :D [Sorry about my English, feel free to correct me :)]

Edit: Do you think there will be translation problems (similar to hieroglyphs) in the future if all the kanji teaching were eliminated? If you think so, does it worth using this argument?

April 4, 2018



I think Japanese once considered to remove them just like Vietnam did(that replaced it with Latin alphabet), but that would lead to a very practical problem. In Japanese there is a lot of homophones. Removing them(and replacing by Kana, Hangul or Latin alphabet) would increase ambiguity.


Here is a video explaining why there are Kanji, and why (probably) it won't change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O27TgLW6pCU


It answers all my questions!! xD Thank you!!


Oh... I understand... but doesn't Korean have a lot of homophones too? I don't know, I have never studied Korean, I'm saying it because of the text I've read online.

And, another thing I haven't understood yet (I also read it online) is also about those homophone you said. If there are homophones in the writing, there are also in the speaking, why doesn't it make the speaking hard too?


Thanks!! I haven't notice that even with spaces it is still hard to read without kanji... and korean have definetely less homophones haha... those are good arguments that I can use.

But do you know how these homophone don't harm the speech? How can japanese people understand the speech and don't understand the writing?


In everyday spoken language Japanese speakers tend to avoid ways of saying things that could be too ambiguous to be understood, at the cost of it sometimes taking longer to convey the same information. Written language on the other hand can be very concise, especially when using technical and scientific terms written with multiple kanji characters, but cannot always be immediately understood when read aloud, especially for listeners who aren't familiar with the subject matter.

All languages are different between formal written and causal spoken varieties, and native speakers naturally tend to optimize for their target medium and audience. The difference between written and spoken language just happens to be bigger in some languages than others.


Hi, I don't have an opinion about Kanji and think your English is very good, but I have a few very small suggestions:

We need to say our opinion... This is fine but "We need to explain our opinion" would be a little better

I don't want kanji to be eliminate should be "I don't want kanji to be eliminated"

and makes the reading easier should be "and makes reading easier"

I've been searching a lot to the debate should be "I've been searching a lot about the debate"


Korean and Japanese have developed very differently over the years, so I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison. Korean has had hundreds of years to adapt since the implementation of Hangul, whereas Japanese has evolved with kanji, not without it. In my opninion kanji is very useful to Japanese, and subtitles are still often used in tv news where subjects are complex and change quickly.

I don’t think kanji can be easily eliminated in Japanese, and a sudden departure of kanji would be difficult linguistically and culturally.


Japanese also has a thousand year old tradition of kana literature; and hungal wasn't recognized as an official script before the end of the 19th century. Consider the close relationship between the two languages in the modern era, it's fair to make a comparison.

The abandonment of Hanja was mainly because of the government policies.


Yeah... I also think so


From what little i have read, once Korea developed Hangul, Hanja was only used to write Sino-Korean Words (aka similar to Japanese words with the Onyomi pronunciations).

This along with greater degree of syllable combinations present in Korean makes it easier read and understand Korean without Hanja,

I often wonder what modern Japanese would be like if the Japanese only used Kanji for Onyomi Pronunciations and replaced all the Kunyomi readings with hiragana or katakana.

Learning Kanji I feel the Onyomi readings are a little easier for me to remember.


Korean historians said that one king of the old Kingdom of Korea wanted all people could learn to write and read, not only the rich ones. So he ordered the kingdom's linguists to design a new writing system for all korean people to be able to learn how to write and read the language. My Hapkido Sabeom Nim talked to me about this once and I later found some information on Wikipedia under the Hangul article.


Do you think there will be translation problems (similar to hieroglyphs) in the future if all the kanji teaching were eliminated? If you think so, does it worth using this argument?

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