かな. Covers both Japanese syllabaries, hiragana (ひらがな) and katakana (カタカナ).

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21
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4answers
11k views

Why was both katakana and hiragana created?

Nowadays, katakana tends to be used for gairaigo and onomatopoeia, while hiragana tends to be used for native Japanese words. This is a slight simplification - more information is available here. ...
1
vote
2answers
496 views

Which kana/kanji are used to write Yoshitoshi's death poem?

Browsing for art late at night, I came across this beautiful poem by Yoshitoshi, said to be his death poem: yo o tsumete terimasarishi wa natsu no tsuki translated as: holding back ...
8
votes
1answer
459 views

Stroke order for han-dakuten

Is there one? Or does it even matter? I personally start at the top and go clockwise. Just curious. Update: I realized the other day that the reason I start at the 12-o'clock position and go ...
9
votes
1answer
796 views

Why has を been spared but ゐ and ゑ been deemed obsolete?

According to When is the katakana form of wo (ヲ) used?-ヲ-used, を is almost always used only for the particle, and is usually pronounced o (お). There are some dialects where を is pronounced with a ...
12
votes
1answer
903 views

Names for strokes

What do we call the different types of strokes of kanji/kana in Japanese? For example, in Chinese the left-downward stroke is called 撇[piě] and the right-downward stroke is called 捺[nà]. And if I ...
19
votes
4answers
4k views

Distinguishing certain characters in handwriting and print (Similar-looking Kana and Kanji)

Japanese has some sets of characters which look very similar or even identical. Obviously, context is usually more than enough to distinguish which character is intended, but I'm wondering if there ...
11
votes
2answers
7k views

What does the use of a dash (instead of a character) to extend a sound mean?

I came across the sentence 混乱する気持ちもよーくわかる in my manga. I have translated it, but the use of the dash (which was vertical in the actual vertical text) stumped me for a bit (I thought it was よう at ...
34
votes
3answers
13k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
659 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
2k 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?
14
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 ...
25
votes
3answers
7k 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
558 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
2k 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
636 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 ...
41
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 ...