Hanzi/Hanja meanings

ChristopherB

Member
New Zealand, English
I'm just curious to know whether the meanings of Chinese hanzi overlap consistently with the Korean hanja. I'm using a book called "Cracking the Chinese Puzzles" to develop character literacy, though I'm considering learning Korean. How much transfer will I get? Should I keep using this book to learn the characters? I'm learning traditional.

Thanks for any help with this...can't seem to find the answer anywhere.
 
  • Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Hello,

    I don't presume to know Korean any more than a Roman knows Chinese but here is my very tentative answer.

    Chinese characters very often form groups of two or three characters to make words. Most of hanja, I believe, that you will be dealing with are part of words. Even if single characters have the same meanings in Korean and Chinese, words consisting of Chinese characters may have different meanings or not exist in a language.

    For example, 工夫 in Korean is studying while it is spare time or effort in Chinese. The effort sense is somewhat similar to the Korean sense, but it is not as specific. Ah, by the way, none of the senses of 工夫 can be understood by combining the senses of each characters.

    The best solution is to get a Korean dictionary that provides hanja for Sino-Korean vocabulary.
     

    nhk9

    Member
    Canada English
    The hanja of Korea is quite conservative. You will need to know how to write your hanzi in the traditional way. Sometimes there are subtle differences that you will need to watch out for, such as 强 vs 強
     

    indigoduck

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I'm just curious to know whether the meanings of Chinese hanzi overlap consistently with the Korean hanja. I'm using a book called "Cracking the Chinese Puzzles" to develop character literacy, though I'm considering learning Korean. How much transfer will I get? Should I keep using this book to learn the characters? I'm learning traditional.

    Thanks for any help with this...can't seem to find the answer anywhere.
    Another old post ... you have an interesting question even for a Chinese like me.

    I'm sure a good majority of them do overlap, for those characters that are still in modern use, but keep in mind that Chinese characters in Korean are in serious declining use.

    Even for me, i just realized some modern Chinese characters that we take for granted everyday did not have the same meaning in Classical Chinese. Some meanings were simply changed out of convenience. Believe me, it sounds depressing to someone who believed that chinese characters had the same meaning throughout history. They are nothing but pictoral tools to help improve literacy among the people.

    To answer your question though... there is serious declining use of Chinese characters within the Korean language (exception would be technical fields like chinese medicine and really specialized fields of study), so if your objective is to learn Korean, you can abandon that book.

    If you want to learn Korean and Chinese.... broaden your horizons and learn some Chinese characters, it may come in handy during your learning of Korean but it's not necessary.
     
    Despite what many Koreans argue, chinese characters in Korea are in use in many circumstances, sometimes on TV, sometimes on newspapers. It looks as though you can go by everyday lives without ever knowing chinese characters.

    Hanja is an integral part of Korean vocabulary, culture, language. Their apparent decline in use in such media doesn't necessarily mean that the importance of the chinese characters have declined.
     
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