2007 Kanji of the Year

Most years, the Kanji Kentei's Kanji of the Year awards are pretty boring: democracy mills all the rough edges off public opinion and we end up with a character meaning "love" or "new" or "fluffy puppy drinking a bowl of warm milk". But not this year. This year the winner was:


And those Kanji Kentei copywriters aren't afraid to name names... of abstract concepts that can't sue. Food mislabeling, pension shenanigans, "an English conversation school", even "a fake amusement park that opened in China" (not to be confused with Disgraceland); all come in for a nonspecific, unactionable scathing.

Even the runners-up are bleak. From the top, you got 食 ("food", and you know that isn't there because the food was especially tasty and accurately represented by manufacturers this year), 嘘 ("lies"), 疑 ("doubt"), and 謝 ("apologize"). Only at number 6 does it begin to it degenerate into the meaningless everyear pap of 変 ("change"), 政 ("government"), 心 ("heart/soul"), etc.

(Do note however that 暑 ("hot") and 温 ("warm") are both in the top 20. Again, the reason for this is not, say, a Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis boom.)

Now we shall proceed to the No-sword Kanji of the Year for 2008. In my capacity as Grand Master, I herebyc declare the winner to be:

鴨 is the character for "[wild] duck", kamo in Japanese. Kamo also has a metaphorical meaning in Japanese, dating back at least to the Edo period: sucker.*

Always granting of course that living in any kind of modern human society means a daily round of suckering by various forces ranging from the abstract and emergent to the all too tangible, let us all move into the Year of the Rat with a new vigilance against the scams that we can see, at least. And always remember the golden conman-busting rule: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Happy new year!

Popularity factor: 6


Are you _ever_ happy with the choices for kanji of the year?
Also, it's been a long while since I commented. How long has this been in French?


I liked this year's kanji. Or more accurately, I liked the calligraphy. It was a lot drippier and runnier than last year. It was positively bursting with juices.. black, resinous juices.


I always thought 2004's 災 an apt choice. And that was picked before the tsunami, even.


Hey, I'm happy with this year's! It's about time cynicism won out.

MMS: The current incarnation of No-sword does not officially recognize years before 2005 (which we prefer to number "0")

Mark S.:

These kanji of the year may come in useful after all: Greenpeace members in front of a Japanese "research" whaling vessel.


Indeed! But they would have done better to look up the characters for "research" to put after it. As it stands it looks like maybe they're just French performance artists.

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