When did diacritic signs 濁点 and 半濁点 start to be used in the Japanese language?

1 Answer 1


I heard notation method of them were enacted in the period of Showa after WW2.

This is a post card that was made before Showa era. はがき is written as はかき on it.

enter image description here

However, actually it seems that they are used since long ago.

It seems that 濁点 was used since Hiragana was invented in the 10th century and that 半濁点 was invented by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century.

Originally they were used as supplementary symbols for pronunciation.

Here are two pages from a book written by the Portuguese in 1599, digitalized by Sophia University: Page 1, Page 2.

The 4th line from the right of the second page can be read as 「悪を退け善に勤しむべき事」. 「べ」 has 濁点.


  • 2
    Yes, 濁点 and 半濁点 had been used for centuries to help people read, but was non-standard before WWII.
    – naruto
    Mar 22, 2016 at 0:40
  • I noticed the postcard you linked has 郵便はがき written backwards as きかは便郵. Disregarding the dakuten, do you have any information on why it was written like this or when they stopped writing backwards?
    – user11589
    Mar 22, 2016 at 15:59
  • In the Historical kana orthography, scripts were written from right-to-left. That was the same as the way of vertical writing style. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_kana_orthography I think that was changed in Showa era for following the way of writing Western scripts.
    – nariuji
    Mar 23, 2016 at 13:31
  • Speaking about that postkard you attached, these numbers on it "5.8.22" are date, am I right? It seems obvious but I want to be 100% sure of it.
    – Julia
    Apr 28, 2016 at 15:48
  • Perhaps that shows "August 22nd in 1930(Showa 5th)". It may be "1916(Taisho 5th)".
    – nariuji
    Apr 29, 2016 at 7:48

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