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I found there are two characters for "xia1" (ghra as in Middle Chinese), 蝦 and 鰕.

Could someone explain what the difference is?

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@JamesJiao both of them have the meaning of "shrimp". Which one should I use? –  Mike Manilone Feb 24 '13 at 3:37
    
@MikeManilone You should use "虾" –  fefe Feb 24 '13 at 5:16
3  
@fefe Um. No, I mean which one of them, not the simplified one. –  Mike Manilone Feb 24 '13 at 7:30
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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You should use 蝦. As can be seen in zdic.net 鰕 used to mean shrimp, but is not used anymore in this meaning. In Japan it however is still a common character.

Using Google:

The latter is used in some exotic fish names.

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Thanks for your Google idea. I have never thought up such an idea! –  Mike Manilone Feb 24 '13 at 18:15
    
I can confirm seeing on dozens of signs and menus in Taipei. I can't recall seeing . –  hippietrail Mar 4 at 18:56
    
Let's put it this way, 鰕 is old, 蝦 is new. Use the new one although both are the same. –  user3992 Mar 5 at 15:06
    
@MikeManilone you have to be careful comparing number of hits sometimes - there's lots of "incorrectness" out there. For example 的, 地, and 得. –  Steve Mar 5 at 16:15
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According to modern science, shrimp is not a kind of fish, and it is not even Vertebrate,so you shall use 蝦 rather than 鰕. Because 虫 usually used to build glyphs related to worm-like animals, and 魚 used for fishes.

Exceptions:

  • 鯨 (whale) is not fish, but ancient people simply don't know!

  • 蛇 (snake) is vetebrate, but people just think it is a huge earthworm!

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no, 虫 originally meant snake, but later it evolved to mean worm. –  user58955 Mar 5 at 22:18
    
The old character for worm is 蟲, derived from 虫 (snake) –  user58955 Mar 5 at 22:18
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This can help you to distinguish 蝦 and 鰕 http://dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/fra/fra03660.htm

蝦 蝦蟆也。蝦蟆見於本艸經。背有黑點。身小。能跳接百蟲。

蝦 the toad. The toad can be found in Compendium of Medical Herbs. It has black spots at the back. Small one. Can jump to catch many insects.

鰕 鰕魚也。三字句。各本作魵也。今正。鰕者、今之蝦字。

鰕 the shrimp. In three characters. (this is 說文解字 typical wording) Other book says this is a kind of spotted fish. Now is corrected to shrimp. 鰕, is the character 蝦 we use now.

so the character 蝦 came from 蝦蟆 (toad), but somehow it replaced 鰕 and become the right character. So if you want to have some shrimp, you should use 蝦.

Though I'm a native speaker, I'm still amazed that 鰕 is original character since I use 蝦 all the time. Thanks for your question.

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