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This is a two part question.

1.) When spelling out a word in kana, what is the correct way to call the small つ (for example the small っ in ちっちゃい)?

I only have experience with my Japanese friends using the informal sounding

小さい『つ』

or

ちっちゃい『つ』

Is there a formal grammatical term for this "character"?

2.) If there is, but in reality it sounds too academic, which term would be the most immediately understandable in an informal setting?

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6  
It isn't the name for the character, but I often use 促音{そくおん} to refer to it, since that's what its function is. –  Darius Jahandarie May 11 '13 at 19:15
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It appears that one more-formal way to describe characters like 「っ」 is to use the phrase 「小書{こが}き」文字{もじ} or simply「小書{こが}き」。 So, in the case of 「っ」, it would be something like: 小書{こが}きの「つ」.

But in an informal context, something like「小さい『つ』」would probably get the point across.

For more information, there is a more detailed writeup by a user named "nullstrings27" that further explains 小書{こが}き文字{もじ} in general.

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Apparently 捨て仮名 is also an acceptable name as per detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1424710779 –  ssb May 13 '13 at 14:22
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