View Full Version : Ki Kanji

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01-30-2003, 04:26 PM
Hey all,

A couple of weeks ago my sempai and I had a short discussion about kanji. He mentioned that he was looking into the differences between the two common ways of writing "ki," the one (as pictured on this website) with a cross with four marks at the corners under the "bar", or the one with the "x" under the "bar". He said that he was trying to find out if there were differences in connotation between the two. I always thought, since I primarily saw the "x" version on typing programs, and the "cross" version in handwritten calligraphy that the difference came because the cross was too hard to represent in a computer font, or the cross was an artistic embellishment for calligraphers.

Are there differences in meaning between the two?


01-30-2003, 04:55 PM
As far as my meager understanding of Japanes language goes the one with the x-character is the newer (official) kanji for ki and the other one the older character for ki.

The computerfont reasoning does not hold as I have them both on my computer, besides ki is not that difficult a character compaired to some others.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Jeff Tibbetts
01-30-2003, 04:57 PM
Erik, I'll confirm that I read the same thing, that the "x" is the newer one that was simplified some time ago.

Kent Enfield
01-30-2003, 06:29 PM
Yup. One's just the modern, simplified version and the other the older version. "Ki" isn't the only character this happened to, by the way. Any decent kanji dictionary should have a list of them. The only annoying part is that some dictionaries list these kanji under their traditional radicals, even when it's no longer in the character.

At the same time as this, the Japanese goverment also updated the kana system, eliminating the kana for we, wi, wu, ye, and yi, and making the way things are spelled more sensical by their modern pronunciation. No more writing "kaha" for "kawa" or "dofu" for "dou." For some reason they didn't do this for particles though, hence "wa," "o," and "e" being written as "ha," "wo," and "he."

This is also why you sometimes see Ueshiba written as "Uyeshiba." The latter is a direct transliteration of the hirgana for his name, as it was written in the first part of the 20th century. It'd still be pronounced the same.

01-30-2003, 08:28 PM
All written language undergoes changes, and we have just happened to see one in the character for Ki. Kanji as we know them have been through a lot of different changes, most of them due to writing and printing technology. The change from the "grain" radical to an "x" has happened not only to the word "ki" but to a lot of other characters. The Chinese have done this much more than the Japanese, I think more because their entire language is pictographic and lacks the addition of syllabary enhancers. They change the "four dots" you see under the character for "MU" (empty) into a straight line for example. I read a book where they said this was done as a response to the use of fountain pens instead of brushes, because dots are easier with a brush than they would be with a more rigid pen nib. Kind of made sense to me.

Jim Vance