I'm planning on picking up Chinese, but I don't want to go over the hassle of relearning every single definition. I'm pretty sure at least one Japanese sinologist has attempted making such a list, but with my limited ability to use Japanese with google I need help. Does a list like this exist somewhere online or in a book form? It shouldn't matter if it's in Japanese, but I'd prefer English

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    I'm not aware of any such list, but I wouldn't be surprised if one existed. I've been told that 卵 in Chinese means specifically fish eggs, and 手紙 rather amusingly means toilet paper. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 19:31
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi 卵 is for all kinds of shell-less eggs in Chinese. A chicken egg is 卵 while in oviduct, but 蛋 when it comes out. Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 10:35

1 Answer 1


The Japanese—Chinese false friends (日中同形(異義)語) have always been a hot topic among learners of each language in both countries.

Recent books:

Both contain 1400 to 1500-ish pairs.

Googling around with the keyword above would give you a tremendous number of research papers in Japanese (and a bit Chinese). The English one returns many results too, but there seem to be few serious studies.

And while we're at it, let me introduce you to my favorite one.

A Chinese product quality manager visited a Japanese factory. He saw many automated and advanced management systems, but seemed to be most impressed by the slogan on the wall. "How demanding!", he screamed, "That must be the secret of Japanese quality!" The slogan is: 「油断一秒怪我一生」.

  • 油断一秒怪我一生
    • Japanese: ゆだんいちびょう、けがいっしょう "One second carelessness, a lifelong injury"
    • Chinese: yóu duàn yīmiǎo, guài wǒ yīshēng "Out of oil for a second, blame me for a lifetime"

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