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I’m trying to read a book but I came across a sentence where there are small あs after はs and I’m not sure why. Do you know why that is and what it means?

その時【とき】、子供【こども】たちの声【こえ】が聞こえました【きこえました】。
「鬼【おに】はぁ外【そと】、福【ふく】はぁ内【うち】。」
おじいさんは言いました【いいました】。
「あっ、そうか。今日【きょう】は節分【せつぶん】か。」

鬼はぁ外、福はぁ内

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The phrase 「鬼【おに】は外【そと】、福【ふく】は内【うち】」 is said during the 豆まき mamemaki performed as part of 節分 Setsubun.

It is often recited rhythmically

[●]{オ}[●]{ニ}[●]{ワ}[●]{ー}[●]{ソ}[●]{ト}○○[●]{フ}[●]{ク}[●]{ワ}[●]{ー}[●]{ウ}[●]{チ}○○

Just writing 「鬼は外、福は内」 just looks/reads very ordinary, so here the small ぁ is added to convey the (rhythmical) sound of the children singing/reciting the phrase.

(Rhythm can also change the pronunciation of the numbers when counting, for example during hide-and-seek.)

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    I'm not sure OP would have been so confused if he'd ever actually heard this phrase aloud.
    – Angelos
    Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 20:38
  • Correct. If I ever hear ghost children singing during a bean throwing festival, I'll make sure to remember this! Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 18:52

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