Starting to read classic literary texts, mainly in Aozora Bunko, I am encountering symbols like /″\, /\, ――, ○○ (above a word) or ```````` (above a word), which I don't know what they mean.

For example, in this work by Kasai Zenzō (葛西善藏)


it can immediately be seen the repeated use of /″\,/\and ――.





In the same work, we can find this sentence


in which, the word 読売 has a ○ above each kanji, that is, a ○ above 読 and another ○ above 売 .

On the other hand, for example, in the work Botchan (坊っちゃん) by Natsume Sōseki (夏目漱石)


in this sentence


each of the kana in おくれんかな、もし has a ` above.

My question is: what do all these symbols mean? Are they something common in the Japanese language used in most classic literary texts (and therefore, if I read these texts through a physical format, printed in a book, I will also find them) or do they only appear in Aozora Bunko texts for any particular reason?

If these symbols (and other ones that may be and I don't know them) are known in Japanese under a certain name, I would also like to know it, so that I can read more about the matter.

Thanks a lot in advance for your help!


1 Answer 1


These long bars indicate that the previous "word" gets repeated. ("word" isn't really the right word). so しみ/″\ is しみじみ and つく/″\ is つくづく.

/\ is just like /″\ except without voicing. So もと/\ is just もともと.

This is similar to the use of 々 in 生々. But 々 is used with kanji and /\ is used with kana.

"` above" acts like emphasis

It looks like ○ is also providing emphasis of sort.

These are not unusual to encounter in older texts. In a more recent text, I feel they give the text an old fashioned feel. But notice also that the spelling (the use of kana) does not follow modern standard. やうな for more contemporary ような. The use of ゐ in ゐる. And いふ, 云つた, and 云はれた--for いう, いった, and 言われた respectively--which I don't see much in more contemporary works. So altogether, this looks fairly reasonable for something published in the periods from Meiji period through early Showa.

  • Thank you very much for your answer! It helped me a lot to understand completely the usage of /\ and /″\. :)
    – Rick
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 10:59
  • About ――, would it be also related with /\ and /″\ or it has a different use? It seems different from the just one ― used to extend the sound of a vowel. And regarding ` (above a kana) and ○ (above a kana), what kind of emphasis would they give? Would it be the Japanese equivalent of writing whole words in English in capital letters or highlighted in bold, and you can use it more or less freely in informal contexts? Or would its use be different one from another and restricted to a certain case?
    – Rick
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 10:59
  • 1
    The double ―― just looks like an em-dash to me, connecting phrases.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 14:27
  • 1
    Emphasis is emphasis. Even in English there is no rule about how and when to emphasize words or phrases in a particular way. It's just the author drawing attention to a particular word. Trying to draw a correspondence between how emphasis is shown in Japan and English is the wrong approach. Moreover, Japanese can use katakana instead of hiragana to emphasize a word, choose a different kanji or reading to emphasizes words, etc. I would not recommend copying this style; I would just recommend observing what you see.
    – A.Ellett
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 14:33

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