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There are plenty of dead words in languages all over the world, but can the same be said about ghost words? Floating around the murky regions of digitized Unicode values are anywhere between 60 and 100 yūrei-moji — literally, “ghost characters” — haunting the Japanese kanji lexicon.

Though academically obscure, these characters’ origins can be understood readily enough by anyone who has mistaken their doctor’s handwriting for chicken scratch (or vice versa, for that matter). All it took was a few unintentional splatters of ink and some poorly rendered photocopies to bewitch people into seeing kanji that, for all we know, should never have existed.

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