Historical questions about kana that are no longer in common use.

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37
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
575 views

Modern names of the obsolete kana ゑ and ゐ

In modern Japanese, the kana ゑ/ヱ (we) and ゐ/ヰ (wi) are largely obsolete. Words formerly containing them now are pronounced with /e/ and /i/, so they were replaced by え and い, respectively. But when ...
13
votes
1answer
435 views

An interesting postcard

According to my information, this postcard was sent from Japan to Russia, and probably in 1945. Needs a translation badly and nobody has seemed to care since then. I suppose that the historical kana ...
13
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
484 views

What does “齓” mean?

I've found this kanji during Shodo practice. My teacher (Japanese) didn't know the meaning (she recognized the Tooth bushu/radical but not the "word"). I tried to look it up on the electronic ...
8
votes
1answer
580 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
756 views

Can anyone explain the obsolete, non-phonetic use of hiragana from pre war times?

At university our most learned lecturer in Japanese once mentioned there were non-phonetic usages of hiragana at the end of kanji verbs and adjectives pre WWII. Apparently books printed prewar used ...
5
votes
1answer
413 views

Why is katakana /va/ normally written ヴァ rather than ヷ?

Even though there is a katakana character ヷ, most of the time when I see something that is transcribed into Japanese as /va/, it is in the form ヴァ (say, for example, in the title of the anime series ...
2
votes
1answer
87 views

Run-in with an odd use of kanji 「供膳」

I'm currently working on a translation of a song ("故" by Gremlins) and I have run into something quite strange... While it is not unusual for Japanese lyricists to use kanji with a different meaning ...