youseigo no kanji
June 11 2002 at 9:03 PM

Response to Interesting

My Japanese teacher once told me that once certain words had been in common use long enough, kanji were made for them. Such are the examples of using kanji for country names. In actuality, outside of businesses and legal environments, katakana is used for most country names, especially those which only recently (like withing the century) came into contact with Japan. For example Britain and Germany may well often be written in kanji, whereas Rwanda, Iran or America would not be. Its a matter of personal preference and situation. On a related note, there are some grammatical suffixes which depend on the origin of the word. They attach differently to words of Japanese origin, Chinese origin, and foreign origin, with several exceptions for very long-held foreign and Chinese words, which are treated in the same manner as native Japanese terms. I am not sure where, but I once visited a site that had kanji for "tabako," "painappuru" and many other very obscure compounds based on western words. They were of dubious verificity, as no Japanese were familiar with them, but interesting nonetheless.

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