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Variant character
Differences for the same Unicode character in regional versions of Source Han Sans
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese異體字
Simplified Chinese异体字
Literal meaningdifferent form character
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese又體
Simplified Chinese又体
Literal meaningalso form
Second alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese或體
Simplified Chinese或体
Literal meaningor form
Third alternative Chinese name
Literal meaningrepeated writing
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetchữ dị thể
Korean name
Japanese name
Chinese characters Written ChineseKanjiHanjaChữ Hán Scripts and style Precursors Oracle-bone Bronze Seal (Bird-wormLargeSmall) Clerical libian Cursive Semi-cursive Regular Flat brush Typefaces Imitation Song Ming Sans-serif Properties and classification ComponentsStrokes (order)Radicals Collation and standards Character-form standards Jiu zixingXin zixing Kangxi Dictionary forms (1716) General Standard Chinese Characters (mainland China, 2013) Graphemes of Commonly-used Chinese characters (Hong Kong, 2007) Standard Form of National Characters (Taiwan, 1982) Grapheme-usage standards General Standard Characters (PRC, 2013) Jōyō kanji (Japan, 2010) Other standards Standardized Forms of Words with Variant Forms (PRC, 2002) Nan Min Recommended Characters (Taiwan, 2009) Previous standards Commonly-used Characters (PRC, 1988) Tōyō kanji (Japan, 1946) Reforms China Clerical reforms Traditional characters Simplified characters (first roundsecond round) Debate Japan Kyūjitai Shinjitai Ryakuji Korea Yakja Singapore Table of Simplified Characters Homographs and readings Literary and colloquial readings Variants Graphemic variants Zetian characters Derived systems Slavonic transcription Nüshu Kana (HiraganaKatakana) Man'yōgana Jurchen script Khitan large scriptKhitan small script Idu script Bopomofo Sawndip Chữ Nôm Chinese family of scripts (Transliteration of Chinese).mw-parser-output .navbar{display:inline;font-size:88%;font-weight:normal}.mw-parser-output .navbar-collapse{float:left;text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .navbar-boxtext{word-spacing:0}.mw-parser-output .navbar ul{display:inline-block;white-space:nowrap;line-height:inherit}.mw-parser-output .navbar-brackets::before{margin-right:-0.125em;content:"[ "}.mw-parser-output .navbar-brackets::after{margin-left:-0.125em;content:" ]"}.mw-parser-output .navbar li{word-spacing:-0.125em}.mw-parser-output .navbar a>span,.mw-parser-output .navbar a>abbr{text-decoration:inherit}.mw-parser-output .navbar-mini abbr{font-variant:small-caps;border-bottom:none;text-decoration:none;cursor:inherit}.mw-parser-output .navbar-ct-full{font-size:114%;margin:0 7em}.mw-parser-output .navbar-ct-mini{font-size:114%;margin:0 4em}vte

Variant Chinese characters (traditional Chinese: 異體字; simplified Chinese: 异体字; pinyin: yìtǐzì; kanji: 異体字; Hepburn: itaiji; Korean이체자; Hanja異體字; Revised Romanization: icheja) are Chinese characters that are homophones and synonyms. Most variants are allographs in most circumstances, such as casual handwriting. Some contexts require the usage of certain variants, such as in textbook editing.

Regional standards

From right to left: Kangxi Dictionary forms, mainland China standard, Hong Kong standard, Taiwan standard, Japanese standard. Areas in the rightmost column where there are significant differences among different standards are highlighted in yellow. (Note: is not written completely in the Kangxi Dictionary because is a character in the Kangxi Emperor's given name, 玄燁. It was taboo to write in full a character in the emperor's given name, so and all characters containing it as a component are missing the final dot. Similarly, the final vertical stroke in is also omitted.)

Variant Chinese characters exist within and across all regions where Chinese characters are used, whether Chinese-speaking (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore), Japanese-speaking (Japan), or Korean-speaking (North Korea, South Korea). Some of the governments of these regions have made efforts to standardize the use of variants, by establishing certain variants as standard. The choice of which variants to use has resulted in some divergence in the forms of Chinese characters used in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. This effect compounds with the sometimes drastic divergence in the standard Chinese character sets of these regions resulting from the character simplifications pursued by mainland China and by Japan.

The standard character forms of each region are described in:

There are other standards or glyph sets with widespread use in particular regions (particularly for Traditional Chinese) which might not have an officially recognized status, but has a large user base using it daily. A few of such standard includes the Monotype Traditional Chinese fonts or Inherited Glyphs standard, which is compiled by Traditional Chinese users based on daily seen glyphs.

Variants of in the CJKV languages

Origins of variants

Character forms that are most orthodox are known as orthodox variants (正字; zhèngzì), which is sometimes taken as homonymous to Kangxi Dictionary forms (康熙字典體; Kāngxī zìdiǎn tǐ), as the forms found in the Kangxi dictionary are usually the ones considered to be orthodox, at least by late Imperial China standards. Variants that differ from the orthodox form, mainly used in informal situations, are known as folk variants (俗字; súzì; Revised Romanization: sokja; Hepburn: zokuji). Some of these are longstanding abbreviations or alternate forms that became the basis for the simplified character set promulgated by the People's Republic of China. For example, is the folk variant, whereas is the orthodox form, of the character meaning 'foolish' or 'obsessive'. In this case, two different phonetic elements were chosen to represent the same sound. In other cases, the differences between the orthodox form and popular form are merely minor distinctions in the length or location of strokes, whether certain strokes cross, or the presence or absence of minor inconspicuous strokes (dots). These are often not considered true variant characters but are adoptions of different standards for character shape. In mainland China, these are called xin zixing, typically a simplified popular form) and jiu zixing, typically the Kangxi Dictionary form). For instance, is the new form of the character with traditional orthography 'recount', 'describe'. As another example, the surname , also the name of an ancient state, is the 'new character shape' form of the character traditionally written .

Variant graphs also sometimes arise during the historical processes of liding (隸定; 'clerical fixing') and libian (隸變; 'clerical changing'). Libian was the natural evolving process of the seal script into the clerical script, which often involved significant omissions, additions, or transmutations of graphical form, while liding is the direct regularization and linearization of shapes to convert them into clerical forms while also preserving the original structure. For instance, the small seal script character for 'year' was converted by liding to a clerical script form that led to the variant , while the same character, after undergoing libian, gave rise to a clerical script form that eventually became the orthodox . A similar divergence in the regularization process led to two characters for 'tiger', and .

Twelve variants of the character (double-edged sword), varying in both radical use and component form. (or , ) is phonetic. (or ) refers to a blade. (or ) refers to metal. (or ) refers to a blade edge.

There are variants that arise through the use of different radicals to refer to specific definitions of a polysemous character. For instance, the character could mean either 'a type of hawk' or 'carve'. For the former, the variant (with the 'BIRD' radical) is sometimes employed, while for the latter, the variant (with the 'JADE' radical) is sometimes used.

In rare cases, two characters in ancient Chinese with similar meanings can be confused and conflated if their modern Chinese readings have merged, for example, and , are both read as and mean 'famine', used interchangeably in the modern language, even though meant 'insufficient food to satiate', and meant 'famine' in Old Chinese. The two characters formerly belonged to two different Old Chinese rime groups ( and groups, respectively) and could not possibly have had the same pronunciation back then. A similar situation is responsible for the existence of variant forms of the particle with the meaning 'in', 'to', and in the modern traditional character set. In both cases described above, the variants were merged into a single simplified character, and , by mainland authorities.

Usage in computing

Variants of the Chinese character for guī (; ; 'turtle'), collected c. 1800 from printed sources
Five of the 30 variant characters found in the preface of the Kangxi Dictionary which are not found in the dictionary itself
In San Po Kong, Wong Tai Sin District, Hong Kong, these two road signs indicate the same destination - Kai Tak, but they use different variants of the same character for "Kai" - 啓 and 啟.

Unicode deals with variant characters in a complex manner, as a result of the process of Han unification. In Han unification, some variants that are nearly identical between Chinese-, Japanese-, Korean-speaking regions are encoded in the same code point, and can only be distinguished using different typefaces. Other variants that are more divergent are encoded in different code points. On web pages, displaying the correct variants for the intended language is dependent on the typefaces installed on the computer, the configuration of the web browser and the language tags of web pages. Systems that are ready to display the correct variants are rare because many computer users do not have standard typefaces installed and the most popular web browsers are not configured to display the correct variants by default. The following are some examples of variant forms of Chinese characters with different code points and language tags.

Different code points,
China language tag
Different code points,
Taiwan language tag
Different code points,
Hong Kong language tag
Different code points,
Japanese language tag
Different code points,
Korean language tag
戶戸户 戶戸户 戶戸户 戶戸户 戶戸户
爲為为 爲為为 爲為为 爲為为 爲為为
強强 強强 強强 強强 強强
畫畵画 畫畵画 畫畵画 畫畵画 畫畵画
線綫线 線綫线 線綫线 線綫线 線綫线
匯滙 匯滙 匯滙 匯滙 匯滙
裏裡 裏裡 裏裡 裏裡 裏裡
夜亱 夜亱 夜亱 夜亱 夜亱
龜亀龟 龜亀龟 龜亀龟 龜亀龟 龜亀龟

The following are some examples of variant forms of Chinese characters with the same code points and different language tags.

Same code point, different language tags
Chinese Taiwanese Hong Kong Japanese Korean
Same code point, different language tags
Chinese Taiwanese Hong Kong Japanese Korean

Graphemic variants

Some variants are not allographic.For a set of variants to be allographs, someone who could read one should be able to read the others, but some variants cannot be read if one only knows one of them. An example is and , where someone who is able to read might not be able to read . Another example is , which is a variant of , but some people who could read might not be able to read .[clarification needed]

See also