Re: The rapid … erosion of definition ability

Magnus Bodin ☀ magnus at
Mon Nov 17 05:54:16 CST 2014

Thanks for a very good clarification.

On Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 12:44 PM, Leonardo Boiko <leoboiko at>

> 2014-11-17 9:08 GMT-02:00 Magnus Bodin ☀ <magnus at>:
>> Just to clarify. The transcribed form "ji" in the japanese emoji word
>> 絵文字 is probably not from mandarin, since 字 is pronounced "zi" in mandarin.
>> Is it pronounced "ji" in an other chinese language?
> Japanese doesn't usually borrow from Mandarin.  Rather, a large amount of
> its vocabulary (about 60%) was borrowed from classical and medieval Chinese
> (much like the way that 58% of English words were borrowed from Latin and
> French).  These words of Chinese origin are called *kango* in Japanese,
> and *ji *is one of them – quite naturally, as the concept of “written
> character” itself was acquired from China.
> There are three main layers of Chinese loans into Japanese: a stratum they
> call *go-on*, which came from Late Old Chinese and Early Middle Chinese
> (with a Korean flavor); the *kan-on* stratum *, *from the Chang'an
> dialect of Late Middle Chinese; and a bit of Song/Yuan Late Middle Chinese
> as *tōsō-on* [1].
> The Japanese word *ji *“character” is from *go-on* Chinese, likely
> developing from Old Chinese *tsəʔ/*dzəh [2] or *dzə [3].  字 may also be
> pronounced *shi*, which is from the *kan-on* layer.
> Notice that the Mandarin sound written as ‹z› (in 字 *zì *) doesn’t denote
> the [z] consonant but rather [ts] (Mandarin has no voiced consonants like
> [z] or [d]); and also that the Jap. ‹j› isn't English ‹j› but the same
> phoneme as a voiced /ti/ → /di/ → [(d)ʑi].  But this similarity isn't
> because Japanese borrowed from Mandarin; rather, they're cousins to the
> same ancestor.
> [1] Miyake, *Old Japanese: A Phonetic Reconstruction*.
> [2] Schuessler, *ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese*.
> [3] Baxter-Sagart Old Chinese reconstruction.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Unicode mailing list