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I've seen this symbol in various places, such as 「日々」, 「色々」, and 「人々」. What is it, and how does it affect the meaning and pronunciation of the word?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's a repetition kanji or "ideographic iteration mark", it means that the kanji just before should be repeated. The pronunciation changes according to the kanji being repeated, but a lot of the time, the second kanji will be pronounced like the first one, but with a dakuten (hi->bi, to->do, ha->ba). It often makes a word mean "more than one of that thing". Here's some examples:

  • 日々(ひび): days, or every day
  • 人々(ひとびと): people
  • 色々(いろいろ): various
  • 散々(さんざん): severe
  • 昔々(むかしむかし): a long, long time ago
  • 時々(ときどき): occasionally
  • 早々(はやばや): very early

According to Wikipedia, it's called an odoriji (踊り字 ) "dancing mark" in Japanese. I've heard the name that Robusto mentions ("kurikaeshi") more often.

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1  
For anyone that cares, there are also marks to signify repeated kana, although they are almost never used nowadays. I can't figure out how to type them on OSX. Basically, it's like the right part of か/が (the little hook thing, or the little hook thing with the 濁点). They signify repeating the character (like ささ) or repeating the character with 濁点 (like ひび). –  istrasci Jun 1 '11 at 14:24
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With Google's IME, typing おどりじ gives you all the repetition characters like ヽヾゝゞ〃々. The only place I've seen ヽ in the wild is the novel こヽろ –  sartak Jun 1 '11 at 14:43
    
You're missing a few: 〻〳〴〵〱〲 - see the Japanese wiki article for 踊り字 –  flamingspinach Jun 1 '11 at 21:04
    
踊り字!! Thanks you guys!! That was driving me crazy. I did figure out that you can access them in the Windows IME by typing くりかえし. –  istrasci Jun 6 '11 at 3:44

As others have said, it just means you repeat the kanji. However, there is at least one case I know of where there can be a difference between using the kanji iteration mark and not using it. 日々 is ひび (also にちにち, but I think that reading is rare) meaning "daily" or "everyday life". 日日 is ひにち and means "the date" or "number of days". The latter is often written 日にち to avoid confusion, though.

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It's a character to let the reader know that the kanji preceding it has been repeated.

In terms of pronunciation, it may or may not affect the pronunciation. For "色々", there is no change and is simply "いろいろ". For words like "日々", "人々", and "時々", they are "ひび", "ひとびと", and "ときどき", so the first character's pronunciation was modified with the dakuten (") marker.

There are cases where the dakuten is not applied though like "佐々木" for "ささき" even though the さ could become a ざ.

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That's the repetition sign, called kurikaeshi. It means the kanji that precedes it is repeated. It changes the meaning and sometimes the pronunciation. For example, 「人々」in your example means "people" or "everybody" and is pronounced "hito-bito". 「日々」on the other hand has no change in pronunciation (nichinich) but it means "daily" rather than referring to a single day.

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日々 is not pronounced "にちにch" nor "にちにち. –  sawa Oct 17 '11 at 8:53
    
@sawa: Kanjidict says it is. Also ひび. If you have contrary information, perhaps you could contact the editors. –  Robusto Oct 17 '11 at 12:47
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I will not contact the editors because I am not interested in Kanjidict. That is what you relied on, and brought here. It has nothing to do with me. –  sawa Dec 23 '11 at 18:22

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