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I am currently reading a manga for studying Japanese and encountered something strange. A girl exclaims「な゛?!」

The situation is that she has just had water squirted up her nose, so I am guessing it's a kind of 'gnya' sound?

So my question is, is this a real Japanese language thing, or is it just the artist taking liberties with the language for comic effect?


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perhaps you could attach a small picture? – Flaw May 16 '13 at 4:48
You might want to check out this old (2002) thread about this sort of thing: q.hatena.ne.jp/1040004428#a7692 Interesting thread :) – summea May 16 '13 at 4:53
@Flaw Just to be careful, are there any guidelines about "fair use" (for anything copyright-related) on SE? – summea May 16 '13 at 6:12
@summea I don't know about that. But I really doubt part of an image of a comic frame will affect their profits. I guess it's fair use for educational purposes. We can remove the image on request anyway. – Flaw May 16 '13 at 7:00
i think it just means the voice is strained. – ogicu8abruok May 16 '13 at 11:27
up vote 9 down vote accepted

We sometimes write 「な!?」,「なっ!?」or「なっ・・・!?」(These three will be pronounced the same way) to mean 「なにっ!?」or「何!?」. Probably it's like "Wha...!?" or "What the...!?".

We also sometimes write 「え゛っ!」in place of「えっ!」 to add emphasis, but the 「゛」([濁点]{だくてん}) won't change/affect the pronunciation, so it'd be impossible to pronounce 「な゛」or「え゛」 correctly (I don't know what would be "correct" here though).

However, if I were a voice actress and had to read them, I'd probably read them as...
「え゛っ!」 instead of 「えっ!」

(So... maybe you'd call it a "thick/gruff/husky(?) voice"?? Or, is this what you'd call "strained", as in @ogicu8abruok's comment?)

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ナ行の音は鼻音で既に有声です。つまり、声帯の振動を伴った音なので、濁点をつけても更に濁らせたりする事は不可能です。 – Dono May 16 '13 at 8:24
So writing え゛っ(with the extra ゛) as opposed to えっ denotes added surprise without denoting an actual change in sound? (by the way what are those dots called in Japanese and in English?) – yadokari May 16 '13 at 14:17
@yadokari Besides 濁点(だくてん), they are sometimes called 濁り(にごり) or colloquially てんてん. In English, you can use Japanese terms like "dakuten" or call them "voicing marks" or "voiced sound marks". – snailplane May 16 '13 at 14:47
@Dono そ~ですよねえ。。。もうちょっと考えて書き直そう・・・(しかもまた日本語やし) – user1016 May 16 '13 at 22:17
なるほど、よく分かった。ありがとう – DaleyPaley May 17 '13 at 0:17

I believe in this instance, the dots are used for emphasis. Since な is only a sound (or partial word), the net effect is basically just a louder exclamation. It's the difference between writing "What!?" and "What!?" in English (note the italics).

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