かな: Covers both Japanese syllabaries, hiragana (ひらがな) and katakana (かたかな).

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30
votes
3answers
9k views

What are the differences between じ and ぢ, and ず and づ?

The Japanese hiragana and katakana syllabaries can mostly be described as phonetic. But there are two exceptions, the two pairs of syllables modified to be voiced with the dakuten diacritic which ...
17
votes
2answers
594 views

Are bookshelves in alphabetical (kana) order in Japanese bookshops and libraries?

How are fiction books such as novels sorted on the shelves at Japanese bookshops? Kana order seems to play a small part but not the whole part. (I'm not asking about nonfiction books since those are ...
29
votes
4answers
1k views

How did “little tsu” become a lengthener?

How did it come about historically that っ preceding a sound would geminate it? Is it really a little つ or are they just near homomorphs?
13
votes
2answers
3k views

When did the “wu” character drop out of use?

In the last century, the ゐ and ゑ characters were eliminated from common use. But it seems like there used to also be a "wu" character that has since been lost. Given that it's a lot harder to find ...
23
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the equivalent of “alphabetical order” in Japanese?

I know there's あいうえお, but what about at the consonant level? Also, are there any common mnemonics used by Japanese children to remember these?
9
votes
1answer
467 views

In which dialects have the sounds “ゐ” (wi) and “ゑ” (we) been preserved, and are their kana still occasionally seen?

In Nate Glenn's answer to bdonlan's qestion "Why were ゐ and ゑ eliminated?" he states: "Wi" and "we" are still in some dialects, but standard Japanese does not have those sounds. My question is ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is は pronounced as わ when used as a topic particle?

The particle は is pronounced similarly to わ (unlike the rest of the ハ行 kana) when used as a particle; why is this? What historical shifts went on to cause this irregularity?
18
votes
4answers
567 views

What are the origins of ヶ?

The ヶ in e.g. 一ヶ月 is a bit of an odd character - it looks a lot like a small version of the katakana ケ, but is it derived from that katakana originally? Or is it a normal kanji? Or is it something ...
38
votes
1answer
2k views

Why were ゐ and ゑ eliminated?

Sometime in the early 20th century, usage of the now-historical kana ゐ and ゑ (and their katakana equivalents) dropped off, being replaced with い and え in modern Japanese. What exactly happened here ...