Japan’s year of love

The Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation has announced Japan’s kanji of the year.

This is used to write the Japanese word for “love.”

With 4,109 of the total of 85,322 votes, 爱 beat out the character in second place, 改 (reform), by nearly two to one.

I’ve always particularly enjoyed the first part of the etymology of this character:

The top was once 旡 ‘belch’, for obscure reasons; it has become 爫 (zhǎo) ‘hand’ plus 冖 () ‘cover’. Below are 心 (xīn) ‘heart’ and 夂 (zhǐ) ‘walk slowly’ (a foot pointing down).

(Please remember not to confuse the etymology of a Chinese character with the etymology of the word its used to represent; they’re not the same thing.)

Some opponents of simplified characters are particularly annoyed that the simplified form of this character, 爱, omits the “heart” element and inserts “friend” (友 / yǒu) as the base. But as far as I know, no one has objected lately to the removal of “belch.”

traditional vs. simplified:

愛 爱

source: 2005年「今年の漢字」応募集計結果発表, December 13, 2005.

5 thoughts on “Japan’s year of love

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