Which sequences of kanji and/or kana form accepted ways to write a given word, particle, or other speech sound.

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33
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1answer
2k views

How do parents obscure spoken messages in front of their children in Japanese?

Let's say I'm a very young child and I love dessert. After my family goes out today, my dad is going to buy us ice cream; he needs to tell my mom in front of me, without me finding out. In English, he ...
32
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?
27
votes
5answers
1k views

When do you use 下さい as opposed to ください

I've noticed that there seems to be different usage for 下さい and ください. Is this purely a personal preferences or is there an actual difference their usage? This was actually a question the Japanese ...
24
votes
3answers
944 views

Is there a rule for when to use くらい vs ぐらい?

I see phrases like 200人ぐらい, 半々ぐらい, and 何分くらい, which seem to indicate that くらい and ぐらい are synonymous, if not interchangeable. Is there any kind of rule for deciding which to use, or is it a stylistic ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the difference between “家” (ya), “屋” (ya), and “や” (ya) as used in the names of shops/stores/restaurants?

As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters: "吉野家" (Yoshinoya) "松屋" (Matsuya) "すき家" (Sukiya) ...
19
votes
1answer
641 views

Why is a place that sells さけ a さかや?

Is it known why a さかや normally has a か, rather than a け like in さけ? Are there many other -や constructions for stores that change the spelling of the word added to?
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Which is correct: こんばんわ or こんばんは?

I've seen both こんばんわ and こんばんは used; which is correct here? If we interpret the は as the topic particle, は would seem correct, but it seems that わ is used quite frequently anyway...
16
votes
2answers
676 views

Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
16
votes
3answers
933 views

Rules for emphasizing by lengthening sounds

Sometimes, sounds are lengthened for emphasis. For example, see "とっても versus とても". What are the rules governing this process? Are there restrictions on where lengthening can be inserted? とっても or ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there general rules on when to use kanji vs. kana?

This post is inspired by Tokyo Nagoya's comment in 出来できる vs ~えます form for “can”, “able to” asking why everyone was writing 出来る in kanji in their responses. As I mentioned in my reply to his comment, ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Which kanji to use for saying ありがとうございます in emails?

When sending emails, I've noticed that Japanese colleagues use all sorts of kanji/kana combinations for the simple phrases ありがとうございました and よろしくおねがいいたします. For example: ありがとうございました 有難うございました ...
14
votes
2answers
576 views

On the replacing of kanji made obsolete in the 1946 reforms with similar-looking kanji.

This is my understanding but please correct me if some of my details are wrong: In 1946 the Japanese language underwent a reform and standardization process A set of 1850 kanji were made official ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is konnichiwa spelt こんにちは?

Why is は used at the end of こんにちは? Is the last letter the particle は, or is there a different explanation? I suppose you could equally ask "Why is こんにちは pronounced 'konnichiwa'?" - I guess gaikokujin ...
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Are there words which consist of katakana and hiragana letters together?

Obviously many Japanese words consist of kanji characters plus hiragana since the latter are used for okurigana: 食べる 水割り 鷹の爪 Recently I'v started to discover a few words that use kanji characters ...
10
votes
2answers
260 views

What's the difference between 迷う and 紕う?

I was looking in a dictionary and both were listed as being defined as "to lose one's way, to hesitate, or to waver," but I don't understand why there are two different kanji for the word.
10
votes
2answers
436 views

Why are furigana for number kanji almost always omitted?

Here's an example sentence from 北斗の拳 which uses a fair amount of furigana throughout. xxxに残された命は三日... Which includes furigana for のこ, いのち, and, bafflingly, even the か of 日, but none for 三. While ...
10
votes
1answer
275 views

How can one stop “去年【きょねん】教職【きょうしょく】” from looking like a weird 4 kanji compound?

In writing, sometimes you get the illusion of a 4-character compound: Xさんは去年教職を退【しりぞ】いた。 This bothers some non-natives. To correct the "problem", can I always just place a comma between the ...
9
votes
5answers
486 views

Are there any rules for choosing between おお and おう?

Am I correct assuming that both おお and おう are homophones in Japanese - both being pronounced as long o? I suspect I am, since that's what I'm indirectly reading in various tutorials. If so, are there ...
9
votes
1answer
241 views

Was “乎” the man'yōgana spelling of the accusative/object particle “を”?

In the English Wiktionary entry for "を" there is a quote or example sentence using the character "乎" with no explanation seemingly where the particle "を" would normally occur. Now I couldn't find ...
9
votes
1answer
882 views

Change of kanji like 大坂 to 大阪

Wikipedia says that Osaka used to be spelt 大坂, and is now spelt 大阪. Is there a term for what happened, and does it happen often? Related question: On the replacing of kanji obsoleted in the 1946 ...
9
votes
2answers
452 views

Same word - written with kana and kanji in two places in the same paragraph. Why?

I am aware that some Japanese words can be written in either kana or kanji and that the rules about it are not set in stone. This has already been discussed in some questions and answers here (e.g. ...
9
votes
1answer
136 views

Are グラス and ガラス alternative spellings of the same word?

As in the title: Are グラス and ガラス alternative spellings of the same word? I'm going through a 2級 prep book for vocabulary and it has ワイングラス = wine glass but ガラスのコップ = glass (for drinking) and ...
8
votes
8answers
2k views

The many ways to write {かっこいい}

Apparently there are so many ways to write {かっこいい}. Hiragana/katakana only: かっこいい カッコいい カッコイイ EDICT: 格好いい かっこ好い Other possible variants: 格好良い かっこ良い カッコ良い 格好好い 恰好いい (...
8
votes
1answer
264 views

Where's the missing い in ありがた迷惑【ありがた めいわく】?

One of the most useful turns of phrase in Japanese is ありがた迷惑{めいわく}, which is that of being helpful in a way that is not helpful. It can cover situations where one is being helpful to semi-...
7
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
320 views

Are both spellings for ふけ (fuke) “dandruff” ateji? If not what's actually going on?

The other day after washing my hair I decided to add the Japanese word for "dandruff" to my vocabulary. It turns out to be an interesting word. It has only one pronunciatation, ふけ (fuke), but two ...
7
votes
1answer
199 views

Spellings of あなた(がた)

The usual spelling would be hiragana for the first part and kanji for the second, but the spellings 貴女(方)(if the addressee is female) and 貴男(方)(if the addressee is male) are also in use. On to my ...
6
votes
4answers
218 views

ブラウザ or ブラウザー? Words borrowed from English which end with -er

I noticed that some (most? all?) words that were borrowed from English and end with -er in English can have either short or long vowel at the end: browser - can be ブラウザ or ブラウザー driver - can be ドライバ ...
6
votes
3answers
721 views

How does one transcribe the romaji “ō”?

I use The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary, which describes pronunciation in romaji instead of kana. I never learned romaji in a classroom, and generally only use it when reading this dictionary. ...
6
votes
2answers
600 views

Alternate spelling for ありがたい, or typo?

I looked up ありがたい in my dictionaries within OSX (looking at this question), and one of the 国語 dictionaries (can't tell which) has the entry listed like this: ありがた・い 【有り難い・難有い】 You'll notice that ...
6
votes
2answers
141 views

Are there some cases where みたす could be spelled as 充たす? 「充{み}たす」という書き方はどんな場合で使えるか?

Since 充 can be used to spell 充{あ}てる it can have the meaning of "to match". Therefore, the only place where I think 充たす fits is to say something like ある条件を充たす. Nevertheless, according to the 漢字漢和辞典 I ...
6
votes
1answer
669 views

On “おてもと” and its many variants for “chopsticks”

I've always known the Japanese word for "chopsticks" to be (お)箸{はし}. Today in my usual practice of reading everything around me I looked up what was written on the wrapper of the disposable ...
6
votes
1answer
212 views

What is the correct way to say 小さい『つ』?

This is a two part question. 1.) When spelling out a word in kana, what is the correct way to call the small つ (for example the small っ in ちっちゃい)? I only have experience with my Japanese friends ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

ふるさと (home town, birthplace) uses which kanji - 古里 or 故郷?

I've noticed that there are 2 ways (at least, maybe more) of writing ふるさと (home town, birthplace): 古里 故郷 Am I correct? Are they interchangeable? Is one used more often than another?
5
votes
2answers
200 views

Is there a way to differentiate て and って when transcribing speech?

I was wondering if there was some kind of rules to differentiate them, or if it was something we have to remember, like spelling in English. The same question can also extend to お vs おう ; I learned ...
5
votes
2answers
348 views

Katakana changes

The katakana changes with time, and so recently they introduced the "v" "ヴ", and I'd like to know if there's a possibility they'll add letters like "si" "セィ" or something similar in the future? Do the ...
5
votes
2answers
125 views

The Kanji for ありがとうございます

有難う御座います is one Kanji spelling. However, I thought, 'is ございます here an auxilliary verb, and thus are the Kanji incorrect?' Should the proper spelling be 有難うございます?
5
votes
2answers
971 views

Is “豪斯多拉利” an ateji way to write “Australia”?

Several years ago I invested some time and energy digging up more ways to write "Australia" in Japanese than I ever expected would exist: オーストラリア is the usual spelling these days 濠太剌利 is a rare old ...
5
votes
1answer
96 views

“絶対について来ないでね。” as “Absolutely don't come/follow”

Overheard the phrase which sounded like "絶対について来ないでね。". I believe it means 'absolutely don't come/follow'. The speaker was actually hinting to follow her. I'm just curious if my translation makes ...
5
votes
1answer
180 views

How to know when I should use katakana form words referring to animals, lesser creatures, or other organisms?

I know many words for animals are usually written in katakana in contemporary Japanese, even though kanji exist: イルカ クマ And it seems some very common domestic animals I don't seem to notice ...
4
votes
1answer
425 views

Can both Hepburn and Kunreisiki romaji be used to write a person's name?

I once asked why there are two input systems to type some of the same letters, like し or つ, which can be written as shi/si or tsu/tu. I was told that both are okay, I could choose the way I like to ...
4
votes
2answers
604 views

Are “ピーナッツ” and “ピーナツ” both correct for “peanut(s)”?

I've just noticed that the usual word for "peanut" or "peanuts" in Japanese is "ピーナッツ" (pīnattsu), but the first spelling I found, from looking in the translation table in the English Wiktionary was ...
4
votes
1answer
164 views

How common is the practice of writing わたし in kana and わたくし in kanji?

I've heard that some people only write わたし in kana and only use the Kanji 私 when the intended reading is わたくし. How common is this practice? Is it old-fashioned? If I used it myself as a foreigner, ...
4
votes
1answer
347 views

Kanji or kana in お待ちください

It's considered proper (though often ignored) to write ください in 待ってください and 下さい in 赤いのを下さい, i.e. Kanji as a main verb and kana as an auxilliary. But a thought came into my mind: in お待ちください, is it an ...
4
votes
2answers
195 views

On the two words, several pronunciations, and many spellings for “sake cup”

When I was in Okinawa drinking sake I asked my host what the Japanese word for the sake cup was and was told: お猪口{ちょこ} Then today I went to the Nezu Museum in Tokyo which currently has a ...
4
votes
1answer
482 views

Is しゃぶしゃぶ typically written in hiragana rather than katakana?

Is しゃぶしゃぶ typically written in hiragana rather than katakana? If so, why is it written in hiragana? Wikipedia says that it is onomatopoeia: The term is an onomatopoeia, derived from the sound ...
4
votes
1answer
535 views

硬い・堅い・固い - how are different spellings used?

硬{かた}い, 堅{かた}い, and 固{かた}い all have very similar meaning and can be generally translated to English as "hard, tough, solid, stiff". Yet it seems that different kanji are used in different situations. ...
3
votes
2answers
187 views

Dictionary definition of multiple words with identical pronunciation but different kanji

Recently I've been using the スーパー大辞林 Japanese dictionary, because it is built-in to all my Apple devices. But I frequently find words where there is a single entry in the dictionary, but 2 or 3 ...
3
votes
2answers
144 views

Difference between んい and に

I noticed that the word 単位 is written as たんい in hiragana, not たに. Is there a difference in the way んい and に are pronounced? If so, does the same principle go for んあ and な, んえ and ね, etc.?