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Is the "wa-particle" in katakana ワ or ハ?

(Just a quick question - I think I have seen both used, but if ワ is correct then I have just seen the results of a computer o/p automatically using ハ)

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how could ワ be correct seriously ? – oldergod Sep 4 '12 at 0:33
This is probably obvious, but in the modern orthography in Japanese, particles are written in hiragana. So if a particle is written in katakana, there is a special reason for it (say, the author wants to make the text hard to read), and all the rules might be thrown away because of that reason. – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 4 '12 at 2:26
Related: Does the ー represent a double vowel or a long vowel sound? (The title is unclear, but the linked question is about the usage of katakana in words which are not usually written in katakana.) – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 4 '12 at 2:27
This also is probably obvious, but there are both particles は and わ, both pronounce as wa. Hyperworm is writing about the former (topic marker). – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 4 '12 at 2:32
@TsuyoshiIto: I think first Japanese character set encoded for computers could only produce katakana (see JIS X 0201 in wikipedia), which is why (I think) we still see them on utility bills and any narrative inserted would be in katakan. – Tim Sep 4 '12 at 5:07
up vote 17 down vote accepted

ハ for the topic particle. There's no difference from hiragana.

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Thanks for quick answer. – Tim Sep 4 '12 at 5:03

The basic answer is that は is written ハ in katakana.

However, I think it depends on why it's written in katakana. One reason you might write something in katakana is to communicate pronunciation, and in this case the particle は would be written ワ:

  spelling        pronunciation

  おはよう         オハヨー
  こんにちは       コンニチワ

You can see this sort of use of katakana in some official documents, for example.

On the other hand, if you're just writing regular Japanese using katakana, you'd usually spell は as ハ. Another reason you might use katakana is for the use-mention distinction; some books or papers about Japanese grammar, for instance, write particles in katakana when they're mentioned rather than used, and in this context は would be ハ (and を would be ヲ, and so on).

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You can see it's ハ as in an old MS office assistant dialog box

Japanese MS office Clipper

You can also see the usage of ヲ in the above sentence

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+1 I don't know what that googly-eyed thing is but it's way more adorable than the paperclip. – nkjt Nov 13 '13 at 13:00

Katakana is just used for foreign words, the grammar elements are not written in Katakana.

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Katakana is not just used for foreign words. Yes, nowadays we use it for almost only loanwords, but this custom is relatively new. Here are images in a textbook before WWII gastrocamera.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2009/01/11/index.html – Gradius Sep 7 '12 at 6:07
Textbooks published in taisho period use katakana for japanese and hirakana for foreign languages. For exmaple kindai.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/1133275/9?tocOpened=1 第二章第四節「ふぇるまーノ定理」 – jovanni Nov 13 '13 at 8:47

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