Questions tagged [orthography]

正書法. The standard way of writing the language.

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The forward slash (English vs Japanese)

In English it's common to list multiple items as item/item/item, with the / representing or. What about in Japanese? Do I keep the forward slash, or maybe 「・」 so it would be アイテム・アイテム・アイテム? Context:...
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Working with parentheses (English vs Japanese)

In English I could write, "Birds (various kinds)". In Japanese could I translate the version using parentheses as something like 鳥類(各種), or should the language/parentheses be used differently? I'm ...
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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 ...
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1answer
691 views

Legibility of handakuten and dakuten in small font sizes

I occasionally come across text with a small font size where I can tell that there's either an handakuten ゚ or a dakuten ゙ in a kana character, but I need to zoom in to tell which one it is. Does ...
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1answer
204 views

Are there rules for when 'e' becomes 'a' in compound words?

For example: て+つな=たづな(手綱) め+ふた=まぶた(瞼・目蓋) かね+つち=かなづち(金槌) The only thing I can see for sure is that the second word becomes voiced, but that's more of an after-the-fact thing than a rule that dictates ...
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1answer
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Horizontal writing in the middle of vertical writing

My character dictionary is written in vertical style. In this dictionary, columns of text are sometimes divided into two smaller columns, which are read right-then-left. I've read that this is ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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?...
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Distinguishing 沙 from 砂

I looked up both 沙 and 砂 in my 学研{がっけん} 漢和辞典{かんわじてん} today. It appears that they share the same list of readings (サ、シャ、すな、いさご). I also see that some words can be written with either kanji. Here are ...
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How do I write an foreign name that ends with consonant? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Any rules for a suffix on english words? Since Japanese doesn't have consonant endings (except for 'n', of course) How do I end the name I'm trying to transcribe? Names like ...
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1answer
455 views

Why is the affixal 子 treated specially when abbreviating people’s names?

Often, names are abbreviated using the initial letter in romanization, or some random letter, like "A". However, when the name has an affixal 子, that part is often left, like "A子". I have not seen any ...
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1answer
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Is one transcription of “Andrew” more standard than another?

I recently looked at the disambiguation page for Andrew on the Japanese Wikipedia, and found that there were several "アンドルー"s, and several "アンドリュー"s. I couldn't discern any trend that one form ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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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?
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154 views

What is the appropriate usage of example names?

Sometimes it is the case that fake or example names will be used in place of actual names for purposes of explaining something. For example: 田中さんの主張には、その点において疑問があります。 I have a question about ...
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不被下候: When was it common, and what were the rules?

In a shrine graffito written in 1559, two carpenters complain: 其時座主ハ大キナコスデオチヤリテ一度モ焼酎ヲ不被下候 'At that time, the high priest (stingy bugger!) gave us not even a drop of shochu to drink.' The form ...
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4answers
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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. ...
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Why do TV subtitles use spaces (instead of commas)?

It looks like Japanese text don't use spaces between words, not even in informal messages (yes perhaps in textbooks, but I digress). This page claims that a sentence with spaces inbetween just looks ...
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1answer
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Use of kana iteration marks (ゝ, ゞ, ヽ, ヾ)

Kana iteration marks are are rarely used today, and hence there is not much online information on it besides this Wikipedia article, which leaves me with a couple questions. Is there any kana that ...
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2answers
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What romanization scheme is used by programmers?

I noticed that in this book on bioinformatics with Ruby (the programming language!) (Rubyではじめるバイオインフォマティクス―生物系のためのプログラミング入門), the authors sometimes used romanized Japanese in code examples. For ...
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Why is マシ written using katakana?

Does マシ come from English? Or is it a semantic emphasis?
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Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana rather than Romaji?

Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana, or is this dependent on the type or writing, and the target audience? For example, this Japanese Wikipedia entry on Steven Bradbury uses ...
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Arabic numbers: half-width or full-width?

Using my computer, I type a lot of numbers in Japanese text, and I am not sure when to use half-width or full-width. Are there rules? Right now I only use half-width, is it fine? Off-topic: Here is ...
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Is there a logic for deciding when to employ furigana?

I'm vaguely aware that the usage of furigana is based on the intended target audience. The younger or less likely literate the target audience the more furigana are employed. But is there a system to ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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Are the names of some food items written in katakana?

Japanese for Busy People 1 (lesson 11) mentions when talking about [キス]{kisu} (whiting) at a [てんぷらや]{tempura-ya}: NOTE: Names of fish, fruits and vegetables etc. are sometimes written in katakana. ...

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