The textbooks and materials I found on the internet typically provide several examples, but I have never seen a full list of possible combinations.

In particular, can the following combinations be used to transcribe foreign names: イェ (ye), キェ (kye), シェ (shye? or she?), チェ (chye? or che?), ニェ (nye), ヒェ (hye), ミェ (mye), リェ (rye)?

  • @naruto it does, thank you! Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


There are no rules, it is a matter of whether there exist sounds that are likely to be transcribed by such combinations of kana + small kana.

A relevant remark in a Wikipedia article is


So those mentioned here are common enough, but a combination like アゥ is hard to imagine as one-mora sound.

For the particular ones you mention, first note that ェ is more /je/, not fully a vowel. So in theory, イェ/キェ/シェ/チェ/ニェ/ヒェ/ミェ/リェ are palatalized エ/ケ/セ/テ/ネ/ヘ/メ/レ, but as real world examples, you mostly don't see キェ/ニェ/ヒェ/ミェ/リェ.

  • イェ: Yale university is commonly イェ―ル大学 (/je/)
  • シェ: shell is シェル (/ʃe/)
  • チェ: Czech is チェコ (/tʃe/)

The IPA may not be completely accurate, but it should give some idea for the sounds. For the others, they may well be used in transcribing words in Slavic languages. (Russian Нет sounds ニェット.)

  • アゥ is hard to imagine as one-mora sound – why? Do you mean: Hard to imagine for a Japanese speaker? A similar is present e.g., in English word "now" Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 19:55
  • @user1079505 It could be me, or Japanese. Note that Japanese has no diphthongs.
    – sundowner
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 21:54

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