Questions tagged [kana]

かな. Covers both Japanese syllabaries, hiragana (ひらがな) and katakana (カタカナ).

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41
votes
4answers
4k 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?
28
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4answers
10k views

Distinguishing certain characters in handwriting and print (Similar-looking Kana and Kanji)

Japanese has some sets of characters which look very similar or even identical. Obviously, context is usually more than enough to distinguish which character is intended, but I'm wondering if there ...
9
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2answers
2k views

What does it mean for the 'feel' of a sentence / text when it's written in all hiragana?

When a Japanese-language sentence is written out in all katakana, it's supposed to be either stilted, robot-like speech or something to simulate ALL CAPS. How is that with hiragana? Does it make te ...
32
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4answers
2k views

What are the origins of ヶ?

The ヶ in e.g. 一ヶ月 is a bit of an odd character - it looks a lot like a small version of the katakana ケ, but is it derived from that katakana originally? Or is it a normal kanji? Or is it something ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Can I insert hiragana in words I only know partially how to write?

This is a problem I encountered today. I had no idea how to decide what was the best course of action, and I only got the advice of a classmate (You're doing it WRONG) to confirm. As I am still ...
73
votes
4answers
75k views

What are the differences between じ and ぢ, and ず and づ?

The Japanese hiragana and katakana syllabaries can mostly be described as phonetic. But there are two exceptions, the two pairs of syllables modified to be voiced with the dakuten diacritic which ...
39
votes
5answers
32k views

Why was both katakana and hiragana created?

Nowadays, katakana tends to be used for gairaigo and onomatopoeia, while hiragana tends to be used for native Japanese words. This is a slight simplification - more information is available here. ...
37
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is は pronounced as わ when used as a topic particle?

The particle は is pronounced similarly to わ (unlike the rest of the ハ行 kana) when used as a particle; why is this? What historical shifts went on to cause this irregularity?
8
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3answers
856 views

ニッポン? Why Kana?

Just saw this picture: Notice the ニッポン. Why is it written in Kana?! Isn't that like super bizarre?
29
votes
3answers
63k views

What does the use of a dash (instead of a character) to extend a sound mean?

I came across the sentence 混乱する気持ちもよーくわかる in my manga. I have translated it, but the use of the dash (which was vertical in the actual vertical text) stumped me for a bit (I thought it was よう at first,...
6
votes
1answer
394 views

Can't find this character in the dictionary [duplicate]

I have been looking for the meaning of this I can't seem to find its meaning. And I see it being used a lot. Is it even a kanji, or is it just an expression?
61
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1answer
4k views

Why were ゐ and ゑ eliminated?

Sometime in the early 20th century, usage of the now-historical kana ゐ and ゑ (and their katakana equivalents) dropped off, being replaced with い and え in modern Japanese. What exactly happened here ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

In which dialects have the sounds “ゐ” (wi) and “ゑ” (we) been preserved, and are their kana still occasionally seen?

In Nate Glenn's answer to bdonlan's qestion "Why were ゐ and ゑ eliminated?" he states: "Wi" and "we" are still in some dialects, but standard Japanese does not have those sounds. My question is ...
7
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2answers
1k views

Why are long vowels represented differently in hiragana and katakana?

Wikiversity says the following about long vowels in Japanese: A long vowel takes two morae. In rōmaji it's written with a macron: ā, ī, ū, ē and ō. In hiragana, it's written with an extra "あ"...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Why does ちょうし translate to “choushi”?

I apoligize for the dumb question, I just started learning recently. But I'm using memrise to help me learn Japanese, and what I've learned is that ち = "chi", ょ = "yo", う = "u", し = "shi". Based on ...
38
votes
4answers
31k views

What is the equivalent of “alphabetical order” in Japanese?

I know there's あいうえお, but what about at the consonant level? Also, are there any common mnemonics used by Japanese children to remember these?
7
votes
1answer
743 views

皆さんはどんな字を書いていますか? / How do Japanese speakers write kana or kanji by hand?

日本語 この頃メタの方で「手書きの文字をチェックしてください」という質問は受け付けるべきかという話題がありました。個人的には受け付けてもよいと考えているのですが、何人もの学習者がわけもわからず同じような質問を繰り返すのでは生産性がない、という意見があり、これはその通りだと思いました。学習者は教科書などから字の書き方を学ぶと思いますが、初学者用の教科書体といえども、毛筆の運筆を残していたり、...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is English “ka” and “ca” sometimes rendered as キャ (kya) instead of カ (ka)?

I sometimes see that English ka and ca are rendered キャ (kya) instead of カ (ka). Why is this? Do English ka and ca really sound more like kya than ka, at least to Japanese listeners? (I know it doesn'...
9
votes
2answers
848 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. ...
8
votes
1answer
334 views

How to hear the difference between て and で, た and だ, か and が, etc.?

How can I learn to hear the difference between て and で, た and だ, か and が, etc.? For example, when I people say "わたし", it sounds to me like "wa da shi" instead of "wa ta shi". The same things happens ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Understanding hiragana-only texts in videogames

I've been reading since a long time ago that reading hiragana only texts is quite difficult or frustrating because you don't know where a word begins or ends, I understand that and the importance of ...
22
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2answers
10k views

When did the “wu” character drop out of use?

In the last century, the ゐ and ゑ characters were eliminated from common use. But it seems like there used to also be a "wu" character that has since been lost. Given that it's a lot harder to find ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

Why has を been spared but ゐ and ゑ been deemed obsolete?

According to When is the katakana form of wo (ヲ) used?, を is almost always used only for the particle, and is usually pronounced o (お). There are some dialects where を is pronounced with a "w", but ...
6
votes
1answer
795 views

What are the right shapes of kana?

I have been learning Japanese for over a year now, and I have noticed that some people are writing kana differently. For example, I have seen う being written just like how it appears now (looks like a ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it acceptable to use kanji and hiragana in the same word if a kanji character is unknown?

I have come across this issue a number of times. I am studying Japanese at High School, so I only know about 200 kanji. When I write words that consist of more than two kanji characters, I am unsure ...
9
votes
1answer
271 views

Why was つ originally used to mark consonant gemination? When was that?

I can't find the answer anywhere. It seems that in manyougana consonant gemination was not marked in any way. And before the 1946 reform the normal size つ was used instead of the current smaller one....
5
votes
2answers
564 views

What is the order of the full list of kana?

My question would be, if I were to pick up a Japanese dictionary, or had a project in which I needed to put several Japanese words (including hiragana, katakana, and kanji, with gojūon, dakuon, yōon, ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Desu pronounced dess: what about other words? [duplicate]

On a CD that came with my text book I hear that desu is pronounced dess. Are there many other words in Japanese, where done of the sound from the kana spelling actually falls off, like in this example,...
4
votes
1answer
507 views

What does ゆーか mean?

In sentence: 見ず知らず子供を助けるほど、お節介とゆーか、親切ってほどでもない。 I searched jsho, weblio and googled it and nothing. What does it mean? Is this some kind of abbreviation, or onomatopoeia?
3
votes
1answer
873 views

Is there a term for words that share the same kana spelling?

I would like to know if there is a word (in either Japanese or English) that describes pairs of words that are spelled the same in kana. For example, 橋 and 箸 would be "homo-kana" words, because they ...
2
votes
2answers
206 views

Is there a traditional Japanese kana song or otherwise how are babies familiarised with kana?

I have a newborn son from my Japanese wife. I try to sing to him. I sing the alphabet song (English). Japanese kana and their order is the same value for dictionaries. My wife says there isn't one but ...
11
votes
1answer
892 views

Stroke order for han-dakuten

Is there one? Or does it even matter? I personally start at the top and go clockwise. Just curious. Update: I realized the other day that the reason I start at the 12-o'clock position and go ...
8
votes
2answers
383 views

When was 歴史的仮名遣い standardized?

Enno Shioji's answer to my question about 直音表記 says (emphasis added) that: Historically there were multiple way to write a word, and this wasn't standardized. For example, some very old documents ...
6
votes
1answer
179 views

When/why would one write a word using 直音表記?

I looked up 釈迦 at goo辞書 and noticed that there were two alternate readings presented for this word: さか and しゃか. The さか reading is given as being 『「しゃか」の直音表記。』, so these two are clearly the same ...
4
votes
1answer
161 views

覚せい剤 - why is it written with kana?

Why is 覚せい剤 a common variant writing of 覚醒剤? 醒 is a Joyo kanji and wouldn't pose any recognition problems. Example: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/覚せい剤取締法
4
votes
1answer
1k views

General rules for final kana in names ending with consonant?

I'm starting to study Japanese — and of course, it seems one of the first things one is taught in any language is how to introduce oneself. So, according to some (admittedly sketchy looking) online ...
3
votes
1answer
423 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
408 views

How to refer to kana verbally

In the English alphabet, each letter has a pronunciation (or many) as well as a name (that is used when referring to the letter as an entity, when spelling, etc.). As far as I know, in Japanese, the ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Why ī is the only romaji that can be spelled as a double ii

I am learning Japanese, and need to enter romaji into my keyboard to enter Japanese into documents and tables on my smartphone. My textbook shows ī as the only romaji that can be spelled as a double ...
3
votes
1answer
498 views

Is there a standard way to clearly differentiate similar handwritten (kana) characters?

In English, you often see people who write certain letters or numbers with an extra stroke to differentiate them from similar characters, for example people will write a z with a horizontal stroke to ...
-1
votes
1answer
784 views

Hiragana long ō: spelling: おう versus おお? [duplicate]

I would like to know what the difference is between the two spellings of the long o (ō), in hiragana, namely おう (ou) and おお (oo). Are these pronounced the same? If so, then why does Japanese have ...