from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The word “Hanja” ( 漢字 ) in Chinese
characters and in the Korean alphabet
Korean spelling
Korean alphabet : 한자
Hanja : 漢字
Revised Romanization : Hanja
McCune-Reischauer : hancha

Hanja (pronunciation: [ haːnʦ͈a ]; " Han characters") is the Korean name for the characters in the Han script ( 漢字  /  汉字 , Hànzì ), which are still used in South Korea to a small extent alongside the Korean alphabet . In North Korea , they have been abolished for official use in publications since 1949.

Hanja are used in names such as B. person or place names, and for the production of uniqueness in homophonic words. For this purpose, the Hanja of the word is given in brackets in addition to the spelling with the Korean alphabet. Only since the 1980s have personal names been used that are not based on Hanja and cannot be represented as such.


Since the Korean language contains many loan words from the Chinese language (approximately 70% of the Korean vocabulary), the combinatorial use of the Korean alphabet and Hanja has historically been practiced.

In the 20th century, the numerical use of Hanja in Korea decreased sharply. A decisive impetus for pushing back the Hanja were nationalist motives during the Japanese colonial period . Because now the Koreans wanted to differentiate themselves from the Japanese, who also use the Chinese characters and forbade the use of the Korean alphabet during the colonial period.

With the founding of the state, North Korea abolished the Chinese characters, revised this step again in 1964 and requires its students to know about 2000 Hanja. South Korea under President Park Chung-hee also had the Chinese characters removed from school textbooks in 1970 because the Korean alphabet was easier to learn and thus the literacy level of the population would be easier to increase. But in 1975 the government changed its education policy again and the Ministry of Education published the list of 1,800 hanja that should be binding for students.

With the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1993, hanja experienced a revival in South Korea. However, to be in the People's Republic (and in Singapore the simplified through a character reform in the 1950s) Abbreviation used while in Korea (as in Taiwan) traditional traditional characters are used.

Today Hanja is used almost exclusively on maps and for writing personal names. Classes in South Korea begin in the seventh grade and end with the final grade 12. The total amount of hanja for the students is 1,800 characters, about 300 characters less than Japanese students (however, from the first to the ninth grade) have to learn. At universities, other Hanja of the respective subject are taught in some subjects.

In texts that are otherwise written exclusively with the Korean alphabet, Chinese characters are used where necessary to emphasize the etymology or to clarify the meaning of proper names and homophones . The name in the passport was given in Latin, Korean and, a few years ago, also in Chinese characters.

Newspapers and scientific publications were or are still areas in which use is still taking place. These texts were not limited to the 1,800 Chinese characters taught in school, but went beyond them. In journalism, the use of Chinese characters was gradually phased out in the late 1980s. This was because the generation unfamiliar with Chinese grew up to be the target readers.

The representation of Chinese characters is still practiced in scientific texts today, especially in the humanities. Even among these there is a difference between the western-oriented and the oriental-based areas. If in the older scientific generations it was a matter of course to use only Chinese characters in terms, today it is more common to use them in parallel, with the Chinese being given in brackets after the Korean.


Many words are twice in the Korean language available, even pure Korean origin and a second time in sinokoreanischer form, that is of Chinese origin. For example, the character 木 means tree and is pronounced mok ( ). The purely Korean namu ( 나무 ) has exactly the same meaning, but in contrast to most Sinocorean semems such as mok, it can also stand alone. Sometimes both forms exist side by side on an equal footing, but sometimes one has also become less common. In contrast to Kanji , Hanja is always pronounced Sino-Korean when reading in Korean today, so Hanja is always mok and never namu . Hanja can only be used to write the Sinokorean form; there is no Hanja for purely Korean words such as Seoul . Conversely, some monosyllabic Sinokorean words have completely superseded previously used all-Korean words, e.g. B. san "mountain (e)", mun "door", byeok "wall". Much more common, however, are polysyllabic Sino-Korean words without a pure Korean equivalent.


The pronunciation of each Hanjas is given in a combination of the pronunciation ( eum- , or ) and the semantic value used to explain or teach ( -hun , or ) the sign. Together this eumhun forms the name of the Hanjas, so to speak.

example 1

The character “day” is called nal il ( 날 일 ) in Korean . Nal il means something like "tag- / il /" or "[sign that means] day [and] il [is pronounced]" - nal is the purely Korean word for "day", il is the Korean pronunciation of the sign , which is related to the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation .

Example 2

The sign “one” is called han il ( 한 일 ) in Korean . Han il means something like “one- / il /” - han is the pure Korean word for “one”, il is the Korean pronunciation of the character , which is related to the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation .

The two sememes with the same name ( il , il ) and spelled identically with the Korean alphabet ( , ) can be distinguished by their eumhun names ( nal il , han il ), their Hanja spellings ( , ) or by the context . Samsibil can mean “31” ( 三十 一 ) or “the 30th day [of a month]” ( 三十 日 ) , depending on the context .

The semantic value is given in both examples with a purely Korean word, in other cases also with a mixed pure and Sinocorean word or with a purely Sinocorean word. Often the named semem occurs in the semantic specification itself, e.g. B. = geulja ja ( 글자 자 ) or the semantic information consists only of this, e.g. B. = mun mun ( 문 문 ).

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Hanja  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Christa Dürscheid : Introduction to Script Linguistics . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, p. 89; Insup Taylor, Maurice M. Taylor: Writing and literacy in Chinese, Korean and Japanese . John Benjamin, Amsterdam 1995, pp. 223, 245.
  2. ^ Ho-min son: The Korean language . Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 145.