Ateji (当て字 – Phonetic Equivalent) Part 1

  • Ateji Part 1

    当て字 Part 1

    I used the Japanese word ateji (当て字) several times in my previous posts.

    When looking up it in a dictionary, it is translated as “phonetic equivalent,” but I think that the nuance is a little incorrect.
    「当て字」で辞書を引くと “phonetic equivalent” が出てきますが、少しニュアンスが違うような気がします。

    Since ate (当て) means “to assign” and ji (字) means “character,” the literal meaning of ateji is “assigned characters.”
    「当て」は “to assign”、「字」は “character” を意味するので、「当て字」の文字どおりの意味は “assigned characters” となります。

    In actual situations, ateji has two different meanings.

    One is to assign kanji characters to foreign or Japanese terms based on only the readings, ignoring the actual meaning of the kanji.

    The other is to assign kanji characters based on only the meanings, ignoring the readings of the kanji.

    To be continued.

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