Questions tagged [orthography]

正書法. The standard way of writing the language.

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28
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are points used where furigana would be normally?

Sometimes in mangas there are points where you would expect normally furigana. What meaning is it supposed to have?
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 ...
31
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1answer
3k views

Do Japanese writers use underline for emphasis?

Do Japanese writers use underline to emphasize a point, or other techniques? Wikipedia mentions the use of katakana in its article on Emphasis and in its article on Katakana, but I'm not sure whether ...
72
votes
4answers
69k 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 ...
19
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2answers
3k views

Are there general rules on when to use kanji vs. kana?

This post is inspired by Tokyo Nagoya's comment in できる vs ~えます form for “can”, “able to” asking why everyone was writing 出来る in kanji in their responses. As I mentioned in my reply to his comment, I ...
14
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3answers
925 views

Spaces in children's books

Written Japanese ordinarily doesn't use any spaces to separate words. But Japanese children's books do. For example, the opening of Tomi Ungerer's The Three Robbers (すてきな 三にんぐみ) あらわれでたのは、 ...
34
votes
4answers
33k views

What does the little っ (tsu) signify when at the end of a word?

The small っ (tsu) is usually used before a consonant to indicate gemination, less technically known as doubled consonants, which is how they are transliterated in romaji. I have seen it at the end of ...
15
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1answer
992 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 ...
16
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3answers
510 views

Why can some words be written with or without okurigana? How do the uses differ?

What is the difference for word compounds that can exist with 送り仮名 and without and still retain the same pronunciation? As an example: 巻き貝 と 巻貝 取り引き と 取引 If I'm correct, both of these are ...
10
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1answer
1k views

What special kana are used to write foreign words?

How does Japanese handle sounds outside the 五十音図【ごじゅうおんず】? Are there ways of distinguishing sounds such as V or L in katakana renderings of foreign words? How are the missing sounds in the ワ column ...
6
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3answers
482 views

有り難う vs 有難う — Is this the same word?

Do both these words mean "thank you"? If both mean thank you why are they spelled differently? Is one more formal than the other?
16
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7answers
5k views

Are there words which consist of katakana and hiragana letters together?

Obviously many Japanese words consist of kanji characters plus hiragana since the latter are used for okurigana: 食べる 水割り 鷹の爪 Recently I'v started to discover a few words that use kanji characters ...
17
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8answers
11k views

Why are there 3 ways of writing in Japanese?

Why are there kanji, hiragana and katakana? Is there a logical reason behind this or just tradition?
8
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1answer
1k views

Why is “Yamata no Orochi” written in katakana?

In the game Okami, the demon Yamata no Orochi is written here, and also in a separate game here as ヤマタノオロチ, not やまたのおろち. Even the particle の is in katakana. I'm curious as to why this is. I know that ...
1
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1answer
617 views

Intuitive or logical way to know when to use a kanji spelling vs hiragana spelling?

A recurring theme on this site is that foreign learners of Japanese use too much kanji. Often the reaction is puzzlement that we can't "just know the right way". Native speakers literally say they don'...
15
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3answers
8k views

About writing numbers using Japanese numerals vs using Arabic numerals

I noticed that even though Japanese language has kanji characters for numbers (e.g. 十、百、千、万 etc), there are many places where Arabic numerals are used instead, for example, prices for shop items are ...
6
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1answer
255 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?
2
votes
1answer
957 views

ー vs small kana vs long kana for writing long vowels

I had thought that for writing long vowels in Japanese, that small kana was mostly used with hiragana and ー was mostly used with katakana. I was actually thinking of asking whether there were ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Why is ローマ字 spelt without an ン?

Why is ローマ字 spelt without an ン? As far as I can tell, it's not because you can't have an ん sound before a じ sound, because 漢字 has an ん sound before 字. Did early Europeans' term for Roman letters not ...
11
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3answers
10k views

Can I write Japanese name “Midori” this way - 緑?

There is female Japanese name "Midori," and I want to know the ways I can write it. I know it means "green," but maybe the name and "green" are different words sometimes. I used google-translator to ...
8
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2answers
3k views

What are the rules determining the use of the dash in katakana?

As explained in this question, a dash character is used in katakana as an extension of a sound. First, what exactly is this character called? A "nobasu mark"? Anyway, I saw this sign in Shibuya the ...
4
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1answer
3k views

Origin of 夜露死苦?

I've seen よろしく written out as 夜露死苦 on a couple of occasions where it's being used sardonically. At first I thought it was just authors having fun substituting characters that sound the same, but it ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Encountered な with ten-ten

I am currently reading a manga for studying Japanese and encountered something strange. A girl exclaims「な゛?!」 The situation is that she has just had water squirted up her nose, so I am guessing it's ...
8
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1answer
378 views

Why is hiragana used in the middle of this compound word? (障害者 vs 障がい者)

I saw this article on Gizmodo Japan: だれもがスマホの便利さを享受できる第一歩。視覚障がい者がiPhone操作を学べるアプリ Obviously, this is 視覚障害者 (or possibly, 視覚障碍者). It is in the title of the article, as well as several places within ...
1
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2answers
281 views

Can any other characters besides は and わ be used interchangeably at the end of words?

I have noticed that こんにちわ and こんにちは can be spelled differently and have the same meaning. Does this occur with any other character combinations at the end of words?
25
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5answers
3k views

Is there a reason why numbers in Japanese are delimited into blocks of four?

As I understand, Japanese numbers are divided into blocks of four, so while we would think of the number 89123889 as 89,123,889, in Japan they would think of it as 8912,3889 (八千九百十二万三千八百八十九). So ...
17
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1answer
2k views

Use of the question mark and か

I was surpised to hear from a Japanese coworker that using a question mark "?" (gimonfu) after the か particle is correct Japanese. Which of these are NG? 何時に会いましょうか 何時に会いましょうか? 何時に会いましょう? In what ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Is Japanese that lacks proofreading likely to contain bad spelling or grammar?

Regarding written English that isn't proofread ... it's quality definately leaves alot to be desired. I would advise people against treating written English that wasn't professionally written (for ...
13
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1answer
1k views

How often do single dots stick to the top of kanji?

In Chinese, characters with a single dot on top stay separated from the rest of the character. (Eg. Chinese 宝) In kanji, this is frequently not the case - virtually all 宀 characters I see have dots ...
12
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1answer
291 views

Why are equal signs used to substitute an English hyphen?

I was reading an article about Idlib and the groups that were there on Wikipedia, and hovered to the language setting to gloss at the title translations. For Japanese, I saw something unusual in its ...
7
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1answer
686 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、...
6
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2answers
2k views

What are the most obscure kanji?

To my understanding, there are standardised kanji that have either: No reliable information on how they are to be pronounced OR No reliable information on what they mean OR All of the above. Do ...
18
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2answers
5k views

Which is the “official” kanji for さい, 歳 or 才?

Well if I'm not wrong, usually when a word has multiple kanjis one of them is selected as the "main" or more commonly used one. But is it true that 才 and 歳 are both the "main" kanji for さい?
11
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2answers
4k views

Did any writing systems exist before kanji was imported?

Did any writing systems, or even failed attempts at them, exist for Japanese before kanji was imported from China?
11
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1answer
516 views

Why using です in katakana?

This question might sound stupid but it got me thinking for some hours. A friend bought me this gel pen from a Japanese store in my country, and it is written in the pen: かわいいデス instead of かわいいです ...
9
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1answer
3k views

Difference between うーん and ううん

What is the difference between うーん and ううん? In a comment on Pronunciation of ううん, paullb said that he usually sees the negative interjection ううん written as うーん. This confused me, because I thought ...
4
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3answers
30k views

Under what circumstances does Japanese read from right to left?

In The Global Soul: Pico Iyer, (disclaimer: the depiction of Japan may be offensive) Iyer says: Rather perversely I live in Japan, which, as you know, is the most alien science fiction place on ...
3
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3answers
14k views

Which writing system (hiragana, katakana, or kanji) should we use when writing out someone's name?

I know how to read hiragana and katakana, but know nothing else. A lot of people I know want me to write their names in Japanese. Is it right to write them in any system, or are there specific rules?
14
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4answers
1k views

What determines whether a word gets a kanji compound or katakana?

I read electronics/computing articles, and I find an incredible amount of terms are written either in kanji (almost similar to Chinese) or katakana. There are times when it's confusing as to know why. ...
12
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3answers
3k views

Is it possible to tell whether a word is kanji or hiragana without reading it?

Is it possible to tell whether a word would be written in kanji or if it would be written in hiragana without actually reading it, like it is reasonably easy to tell if a word is likely to be written ...
9
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1answer
3k views

Writing キリン vs 麒麟 (Giraffe vs Qilin)

The word きりん appears to mean either a giraffe, or the Qilin. I've noticed that it is written 麒麟{きりん} when it means Qilin, and キリン when it means giraffe. Is it a mistake to write 麒麟 if I mean giraffe?...
8
votes
1answer
554 views

What do you do if a genkoyoshi line ends with e.g. す。」?

Suppose that you're writing on genkoyoshi (原稿用紙), and you are writing a quotation, e.g. 「これはペンです。」 And let's say that each line of the genkoyoshi has 8 blocks. The first block would, I presume, ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Rosetta Stone uses は instead of わ

Just started learning Japanese again. My college offers no class on this so I am learning on my own. I have been using Rosetta Stone on and off again for a while now. One thing I have noticed is that ...
5
votes
1answer
492 views

How to know when I should use katakana form words referring to animals, lesser creatures, or other organisms?

I know many words for animals are usually written in katakana in contemporary Japanese, even though kanji exist: イルカ クマ And it seems some very common domestic animals I don't seem to notice written ...
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 ...
1
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2answers
9k views

How do I say “cat”? And do I use kanji, hiragana, katakana or rōmaji?

猫, ねこ, ネコ, neko Which of these means "cat"? Is it all of them? Which situation do I use each of these in?
9
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3answers
6k views

How would one emulate capitalized letters in Japanese?

Capitalized letters look like I'M SHOUTING AT YOU. How would you reproduce this effect in Japanese? I don't think any of the obvious choices, using カタカナ instead of 漢字 or ひらがな, using punctuation, e....
5
votes
2answers
544 views

Reduction of the diphthong “ou” to “ō” in Middle and Modern Japanese

I noticed that in the word 子牛 both "o" and "u" are pronounced while in the word 格子 there is a long "ō" and they are, respectively, written in rōmaji (Hepburn romanization) koushi and kōshi. What I'd ...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

What does the nakaguro (・) between these two words mean?

The first sentence on the Mac OS X article on the Japanese version of Wikipedia reads: Mac OS X(マック オーエス テン)は、アップルが[開発]{かいはつ}・[販売]{はんばい}する、Macintoshコンピュータ[用]{よう}の[現行]{げんこう}オペレーティングシステム (OS) である。 ...
13
votes
3answers
470 views

Why is this katakana not reversed?

Just saw this image about Nintendo on Kotaku: Clearly the company name, description, and location are written in traditional right-to-left orientation. Even かるた is right-to-left. So why is トランプ ...