So, my mind wandered to Well-Read Robyn and her interest in the Korean language. She’s one of the few people I know who have that interest, and that’s kind of cool.
I felt like we had a sort of a bonding moment over kanji — or, um… the Korean equivalent, whatever it’s called… hanja? yeah, that — pictographic Chinese characters that survive in Japanese and Korean respectively. The cool thing about it is that even though Korean and Japanese are so different, because of this, one who reads one can understand the other to some extent, so long as there’s some hanja/kanji there.
Let’s look at, for example, the word for kanji/hanja in the two languages. If Wikipedia is right, they’re written the same way, if they are written in kanji/hanja: 漢字. If they are written in the writing systems unique to the respective languages, that’s another story: かんじ in Japanese, 한자 in Korean. (If Wikipedia’s right. Hehe.)
But, at the same time, I wonder about the nature of that overlap. I remember seeing a tattoo in Chinese characters, and understanding it even though it was written the “wrong” way. (平和, peace, in Japanese, while the tattoo had 和平.) So, it might be nice to one day get a better understanding of how hanja is used in Korean; are words “reversed” sometimes? How are they pronounced? Maybe one day, Robyn will be able to help me figure that part out.