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In "Maiko Haaaan!!!", a bridge going over Yumekawa (a fictional river in Kyoto) apparently has "夢ノ橋" written on it, rather than "夢の橋". I had two theories about why that may be the case. One was that it was the name of something, and therefore might have different rules than normal Japanese, and the other was that the bridge was supposed to be old, and therefore the name was written in a Japanese different to what exists today.

I checked "When is the katakana form of wo (ヲ) used?", and this answer seemed the best match to the circumstances:

The use of katakana ヲ is quite rare indeed; as you surmise, the use as a particle is Hiragana in modern Japanese. In older dialects, Katakana was used for particles as well, however, and you can see ヲ in use there. In modern times, it's also occasionally used for ironic or stylistic purposes, such as in ヲタク.

Was の one of the particles that was sometimes written in katakana?

(Appearance of the bridge name: 夢ノ橋 (18 seconds into the youtube clip), and ノ appears in a non-fictional bridge 梅ノ橋)

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@Downvoter: downvoting without an explanation may make me put less, rather than more, effort into a question. –  Andrew Grimm Oct 30 '12 at 10:39
Voting to close as duplicate of Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana? –  istrasci Oct 30 '12 at 15:00
Isn't it inevitable that a new class is going to many of the same questions as last years?, especially if they are valid. If there is already a good answer (and it was a good answer) just refer it us (....for up-voting!) –  Tim Oct 30 '12 at 15:58
@Tim: that's what the search box is for. –  istrasci Oct 31 '12 at 3:00
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I presume this habit stems from times, when Japanese was written in 漢文. To make sure that 夢橋 is read with the Japanese reading, you would write a ノ in the column, resulting in 夢ノ橋 read as ゆめのはし. You would never read that as むのきょう, whereas 夢橋 could be read as either ゆめばし or むきょう. The only reason for the ノ being written in カタカナ is that annotations were customarily done all in カタカナ. (This is really the origin of カタカナ—annotations in margins, which were done with [万葉仮名]{まんようがな} were simplified to カタカナ.)

Good typography respects the origin of the ノ as a margin note and typesets the ノ smaller, like a small つ, や, etc. But since that can't be achieved on the computer, yet (there is no Unicode for a small ノ, only for ヶッャュョ), the ノ is just a standard-size ノ. There is also [御茶ノ水]{おちゃのみず}, a JR/Tokyo Metro station in central Tokyo, and also the circle line [山ノ手]{やまのて}線 is (or was) sometimes written with a (small) ノ.

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1) Is the small ノ pronounced or silent? From your answer, it seems like it's silent, but in the 御茶ノ水 question an area that is pronounced もりのみや is sometimes written 森ノ宮. 2) You're saying that ノ isn't acting as particle の in this case, right? –  Andrew Grimm Oct 31 '12 at 8:48
1) The ノ is not silent, but voiced. All that's unusual is that the ノ is written in (small) カタカナ and not (normal-size) ひらがな. 2) ノ is just the normal particle の, which is why there is little lost (other than history-inspired extravagancy), if you just write it as の. –  Earthliŋ Oct 31 '12 at 9:05
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