From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
East Asian age reckoning is a concept and
practice that originated in China and is used in East Asian cultures. Several East Asian
cultures, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolia, Taiwanese
and Vietnamese, share this traditional
way of counting a person's age, in which a person's age is counted starting
from conception, rather than from physical birth. Newborns start at
one year old, and each passing of a New Year, rather than the birthday, adds one year to the person's age;
this results in people being between 1 and 2 years older in Asian
reckoning than in the Western version. Today this system is
commonly used in Koreans'
daily lives, with the exception of the legal system and newspapers.
In Eastern Outer
Mongolia, age is traditionally determined based on the number
of full moons since conception for girls, and the number of new
moons since birth for boys. In China and Japan it is used for traditional fortune-telling
or religion, and it is
disappearing in daily life between people in the city.
In either the traditional or modern age system, the word
sui (traditional Chinese:
歲; simplified Chinese:
岁; pinyin: suì), meaning
"years of age", is used for age counting. When a person's age is
given in a publication, it is often specified whether that is his
or her traditional age (traditional Chinese: 虛歲; simplified Chinese: 虚岁; pinyin:
xūsuì) or modern age (traditional Chinese: 周歲; simplified Chinese: 周岁; pinyin:
zhōusùi) or shisui (traditional Chinese:
實歲; simplified Chinese: 实岁; pinyin:
In the traditional age system, a person is considered a year old
at the time of birth, to account for the gestation period in the
Japanese uses the word sai (歳 or 才)
as a counter word for both the
traditional and modern age system.
The traditional system of age reckoning, or kazoedoshi
(数え年), was rendered obsolete
by law in 1902 when Japan
officially adopted the Western system, known
in Japanese as man nenrei (満年齢). However, the traditional system was
still commonly used, so in 1950 another law was established to
encourage people to use the Western system.
Today the traditional system is mainly used by the elderly.
Elsewhere its use is limited to traditional ceremonies,
divinations, and obituaries.
Koreans generally refer to
their age in units called sal (살), using Korean numerals
in ordinal form. Thus, a
person is one sal during the first calendar year
of life, and ten sal during the tenth calendar year.
The 100th-day anniversary of a baby is called baegil
(백일), which literally means "a hundred days" in Korean, and is
given a special celebration, marking the survival of what was once
a period of high infant mortality. The first
anniversary of birth named dol (돌)) is likewise celebrated, and
given even greater significance. Koreans celebrate their
though every Korean gains one year on New Year's Day.
Because the first year comes at birth and the second on New Year's
Day, a child born, for example, on December 29 will reach two years
of age on January 1, when they are only three days old in western
In modern Korea, the Western age system is referred to as
"man-nai" (만나이) in which "man" (만) means
"actual", and "nai" meaning "age".
Though, the traditional system is most often used. For example,
man yeol sal means "full ten years", or "ten years old" in
English. The Korean word dol means "years elapsed",
identical to the English "years old", but is only used to refer to
the first few birthdays. Cheotdol or simply dol
refers to the first Western-equivalent birthday, dudol
refers to the second, and so on.
The birthday by the lunar calendar is called eumnyeok
saeng-il (음력 생일, 陰曆生日) and yangnyeok saeng-il (양력 생일,
陽曆生日) is the birthday by Gregorian calendar.
For official government uses, documents, and legal procedures,
the Western age system is used. Regulations regarding age limits on
alcohol and tobacco use, as well as the age of consent, are all based on the
Western system (man-nai).
- ^ "98, 90 or 93? Expert sheds
light on tycoon’s age". The Star. October 25,
2007. http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/10/25/nation/19269368. Retrieved
- ^ Shi Liwei (30 April 2009). "Why Chinese People Have a
Nominal Age". ChinaCulture.org. http://www.culturalink.gov.cn/chineseway/2009-04/30/content_327732.htm. Retrieved 11 November
Collaborative Reference Database. (Accessed 2009-11-11.)
(translation: Whether one counts age the modern age system (満年齢) is
described by the "Legal age calculation" law initiated Meiji 35
(1902), December 2, Act no. 50 exists prior to the "13 Years of
Meiji 6 Proclamation No. 6" prescribed for the modern age system
"年齢計算ニ関スル法律 Act on
Calculation of Ages" (in Japanese). Ministry of Internal
Affairs and Communications Japan. 1902. http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/M35/M35HO050.html.
"Act on Calculation of
Ages". Ministry of Justice, Japan. 1902. http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=199&vm=04&re=01.
Hirofumi Hirano, July Heisei 40, 年齢の計算に関する質問主意書 (Memorandum on
questions about the calculation of age), Japan House of
Representatives. (Retrieved 2009-11-11)
(translation: In Japan, the age laws which were originally based on
the calculation by East Asian age reckoning (数え年) were replaced
Twenty-five years after the Showa (1950) with the modern age system
(満年齢) method of age calculation.)"
Counting of Ages" (in Japanese). Ministry of Internal
Affairs and Communications Japan. 1949, effective in 1950. http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S24/S24HO096.html.
"Act on Counting of
Ages". Ministry of Justice, Japan. 1949. http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=393&vm=04&re=01.
Song, Jae Jung. (2005), p. 81-82,
(quote) "Koreans prefer native Korean to Sino-Korean numerals when
telling their own or other people's age,...Note that the native age
classifier sal must be used with native Korean numerals
and the Sino-Korean age classifier sey with Sino-Korean
DuBois (2004), pp. 72-73
- ^ a
Park, Hyunjoo; Pan, Yuling (2007-05-19).
"Cognitive Interviewing with
Asian Populations: Findings from Chinese and Korean
Interviews". Anaheim, CA: RTI International. http://www.rti.org/pubs/aapor07_park_pres.pdf. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
"Koreans are considered one year old at birth and added another
year at New Year’s....some Koreans may use American age counting
convention while others still follow Korean convention. To
eliminate this confusion, Korean asked “만나이(Man-nai)’: the same as
the U.S. age counting convention."
- ^ "What are the special
birthdays?". Deseret News. 2006-12-28. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,650218366,00.html.
"Korean babies are "1" at birth and turn a year older on lunar New
Year's, adds Tangherlini. "Tol" is celebration of the first
anniversary of the birth, so a child born right before lunar New
Year might be considered "2 years old" from day 3 through the next
"만7(滿)" (in Korean). Nate Korean Dictionary. http://kordic.nate.com/dicsearch/view.html?i=12628300. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "시기나
햇수를 꽉 차게 헤아림을 이르는 말.(trans. The word refers to calculating full
years or periods."
- ^ a
Hilts and Kim, (2002), p.228 (quote)
"Koreans have a peculiar way of calculating age. When you're born,
you're already one year old, and then you get another year older
when New Year's Day rolls around. The result is that your
hangungnai (한국나이), 'Korean age', is usually one to tow years older
than your man-nai (만 나이), 'actual age'. Under-age kids sometimes
try to take some advantage of this, but eligibility for drinking,
obtaining license etc is determined by your actual age."
"돌 [Dol]" (in Korean). Nate Korean-English Dictionary. http://engdic.nate.com/dicsearch/view.html?i=162364. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
"돌1 [Dol]" (in Korean). Nate Korean Dictionary. http://kordic.nate.com/dicsearch/view.html?i=10059200. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "Ⅰ.
(명사) 어린아이가 태어난 날로부터 한 해가 되는 날. (Ⅱ )1. 생일이 돌아온 횟수를 세는 단위. 주로 두세 살의
어린아이에게 쓴다. 2. 특정한 날이 해마다 돌아올 때, 그 횟수를 세는 단위.)"
Kim Tae-yeop (김태엽) (2006-08-08). "'8월 18일은 이승엽 DAY!'...요미우리,
축하 이벤트 마련 ['The day on August 18 is Lee Seung-Yeop's
Day!'..Yomiuri, preparing a congratulatory event]" (in Korean).
Sports Chosun. http://sports.chosun.com/news/news.htm?name=/news/sports/200608/20060809/68i70061.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "최근
이승엽의 아버지 이춘광씨는 보통 양력생일을 치르는 요즘의 추세와 달리 이승엽의
음력 생일(1976년 8월18일)을 치르는 사연을 밝혀 화제가 됐다 (trans. It
was a recent topic that Lee Chun-gwang, the father of Lee Seung-Yeop,
revealed the reason why Lee Seung-Yeop takes his lunar birthday on
August 18, 1976 instead of the solar birthday as opposed to the
"성년 成年, full age" (in
Korean). Nate / Britannica. http://100.nate.com/dicsearch/pentry.html?s=B&i=156243&v=44. Retrieved 2009-11-11. "한국의
경우 만 20세로 성년이 되며(민법 제4조)...연령의 계산은 민법 제155조 이하의 규정에 의하나, 출생일을
산입한다(동법 제158조). 1977년의 민법 개정으로 혼인에 의한 성년의제(成年擬制)의 제도를
도입했다..대통령선거법·국회의원선거법·국민투표법·지방자치법·지방의회의원선거법·미성년자보호법 등에서는 이 원칙이 적용되지
- DuBois, Jill (2004).
Korea. 7 of Cultures of the world.
Marshall Cavendish. pp. 72–73. ISBN
- Hilts, J. D.;
Kim, Minkyoung (2002). Korean phrasebook. Lonely Planet.
p. 228.. ISBN
- Song, Jae
Jung (2005). The Korean language: structure, use and
pp. 81–82. ISBN