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Which sequences of kanji and/or kana form accepted ways to write a given word, particle, or other speech sound.

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43
votes
4answers
5k 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?
40
votes
1answer
2k views

How do parents obscure spoken messages in front of their children in Japanese?

Let's say I'm a very young child and I love dessert. After my family goes out today, my dad is going to buy us ice cream; he needs to tell my mom in front of me, without me finding out. In English, he ...
39
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5answers
6k views

When do you use 下さい as opposed to ください

I've noticed that there seems to be different usage for 下さい and ください. Is this purely a personal preferences or is there an actual difference their usage? This was actually a question the Japanese ...
36
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3answers
12k views

Is there a rule for when to use くらい vs ぐらい?

I see phrases like 200人ぐらい, 半々ぐらい, and 何分くらい, which seem to indicate that くらい and ぐらい are synonymous, if not interchangeable. Is there any kind of rule for deciding which to use, or is it a stylistic ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
25
votes
3answers
9k views

What's the difference between “家” (ya), “屋” (ya), and “や” (ya) as used in the names of shops/stores/restaurants?

As a gyudon addict I have noticed that the names of the three major national restaurant chains all end in "ya" but they used two different characters: "吉野家" (Yoshinoya) "松屋" (Matsuya) "すき家" (Sukiya) ...
24
votes
1answer
942 views

Why is a place that sells さけ a さかや?

Is it known why a さかや normally has a か, rather than a け like in さけ? Are there many other -や constructions for stores that change the spelling of the word added to?
20
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5answers
44k views

Which is correct: こんばんわ or こんばんは?

I've seen both こんばんわ and こんばんは used; which is correct here? If we interpret the は as the topic particle, は would seem correct, but it seems that わ is used quite frequently anyway...
19
votes
1answer
14k views

Why is konnichiwa spelt こんにちは?

Why is は used at the end of こんにちは? Is the last letter the particle は, or is there a different explanation? Which is correct: こんばんわ or こんばんは? mentions konnichiwa, but the question is interpreted more ...
19
votes
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 ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

とっても versus とても

I've had a teacher flatly tell me that とっても is incorrect, but I do see it written here and there and I'm pretty sure I hear it as well. Is it just so informal relative to とても that I should never use ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Rules for emphasizing by lengthening sounds

Sometimes, sounds are lengthened for emphasis. For example, see "とっても versus とても". What are the rules governing this process? Are there restrictions on where lengthening can be inserted? とっても or ...
16
votes
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 ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

On the replacing of kanji made obsolete in the 1946 reforms with similar-looking kanji.

This is my understanding but please correct me if some of my details are wrong: In 1946 the Japanese language underwent a reform and standardization process A set of 1850 kanji were made official and ...
14
votes
2answers
602 views

Why is debug デバッグ but bug is バグ?

I'm interested in why the extra small tsu in included in the word デバッグ but not バグ. Are there any rules governing voicing in words formed via reduplication? Lyman's rule may explain this, but does ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

Which kanji to use for saying ありがとうございます in emails?

When sending emails, I've noticed that Japanese colleagues use all sorts of kanji/kana combinations for the simple phrases ありがとうございました and よろしくおねがいいたします. For example: ありがとうございました 有難うございました 有難う御座いました ...
12
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5answers
2k views

Are there any rules for choosing between おお and おう?

Am I correct assuming that both おお and おう are homophones in Japanese - both being pronounced as long o? I suspect I am, since that's what I'm indirectly reading in various tutorials. If so, are there ...
11
votes
2answers
793 views

Why are furigana for number kanji almost always omitted?

Here's an example sentence from 北斗の拳 which uses a fair amount of furigana throughout. xxxに残された命は三日... Which includes furigana for のこ, いのち, and, bafflingly, even the か of 日, but none for 三. While I ...
10
votes
1answer
454 views

Why is こおり spelt with an お rather than an う?

I thought that syllables with an "お" sound get lengthened by an "う" rather than another "お". I've seen this question asked on hinative, which mentions 遠い(とおい), 大きい (おおきい), 多い (おおい), 通り (とおり/どおり) and ...
10
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3answers
21k views

Long O — when is it OU and when OO?

I am learning hiragana and I've encountered a minor problem. The thing is that my book did mention how to deal with a long "O": just by adding another "O" or "U". However it doesn't explain in which ...
10
votes
2answers
353 views

What's the difference between 迷う and 紕う?

I was looking in a dictionary and both were listed as being defined as "to lose one's way, to hesitate, or to waver," but I don't understand why there are two different kanji for the word.
10
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4answers
480 views

ブラウザ or ブラウザー? Words borrowed from English which end with -er

I noticed that some (most? all?) words that were borrowed from English and end with -er in English can have either short or long vowel at the end: browser - can be ブラウザ or ブラウザー driver - can be ドライバ ...
10
votes
1answer
385 views

How can one stop “去年【きょねん】教職【きょうしょく】” from looking like a weird 4 kanji compound?

In writing, sometimes you get the illusion of a 4-character compound: Xさんは去年教職を退【しりぞ】いた。 This bothers some non-natives. To correct the "problem", can I always just place a comma between the kanjis ...
10
votes
1answer
16k views

On “おてもと” and its many variants for “chopsticks”

I've always known the Japanese word for "chopsticks" to be (お)箸{はし}. Today in my usual practice of reading everything around me I looked up what was written on the wrapper of the disposable ...
9
votes
9answers
8k views

The many ways to write {かっこいい}

Apparently there are so many ways to write {かっこいい}. Hiragana/katakana only: かっこいい カッコいい カッコイイ EDICT: 格好いい かっこ好い Other possible variants: 格好良い かっこ良い カッコ良い 格好好い 恰好いい (notice ...
9
votes
1answer
331 views

Was “乎” the man'yōgana spelling of the accusative/object particle “を”?

In the English Wiktionary entry for "を" there is a quote or example sentence using the character "乎" with no explanation seemingly where the particle "を" would normally occur. Now I couldn't find ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Change of kanji like 大坂 to 大阪

Wikipedia says that Osaka used to be spelt 大坂, and is now spelt 大阪. Is there a term for what happened, and does it happen often? Related question: On the replacing of kanji made obsolete in the 1946 ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

How does one transcribe the romaji “ō”?

I use The Kodansha Kanji Learner's Dictionary, which describes pronunciation in romaji instead of kana. I never learned romaji in a classroom, and generally only use it when reading this dictionary. ...
8
votes
1answer
640 views

Are グラス and ガラス alternative spellings of the same word?

As in the title: Are グラス and ガラス alternative spellings of the same word? I'm going through a 2級 prep book for vocabulary and it has ワイングラス = wine glass but ガラスのコップ = glass (for drinking) and ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
391 views

Where's the missing い in ありがた迷惑【ありがた めいわく】?

One of the most useful turns of phrase in Japanese is ありがた迷惑{めいわく}, which is that of being helpful in a way that is not helpful. It can cover situations where one is being helpful to semi-...
7
votes
1answer
832 views

Etymology of ゴミ

I'm curious why is ゴミ commonly spelled in Katakana. What word is it derived from, if any?
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Can anyone explain the obsolete, non-phonetic use of hiragana from pre war times?

At university our most learned lecturer in Japanese once mentioned there were non-phonetic usages of hiragana at the end of kanji verbs and adjectives pre WWII. Apparently books printed prewar used ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is もっと pronounced “motto” but written “motsuto”?

Word もっと is pronuncing as motto means more. But when writing It is mo(も) tsu(っ) to(と). Why is that ? I'm new to Japanese language. Please tell me there are other commonly used words like this ? ...
6
votes
2answers
770 views

Alternate spelling for ありがたい, or typo?

I looked up ありがたい in my dictionaries within OSX (looking at this question), and one of the 国語 dictionaries (can't tell which) has the entry listed like this: ありがた・い 【有り難い・難有い】 You'll notice that ...
6
votes
2answers
652 views

Katakana changes

The katakana changes with time, and so recently they introduced the "v" "ヴ", and I'd like to know if there's a possibility they'll add letters like "si" "セィ" or something similar in the future? Do the ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

硬い・堅い・固い - how are different spellings used?

硬{かた}い, 堅{かた}い, and 固{かた}い all have very similar meaning and can be generally translated to English as "hard, tough, solid, stiff". Yet it seems that different kanji are used in different situations. ...
6
votes
2answers
170 views

Are there some cases where みたす could be spelled as 充たす? 「充{み}たす」という書き方はどんな場合で使えるか?

Since 充 can be used to spell 充{あ}てる it can have the meaning of "to match". Therefore, the only place where I think 充たす fits is to say something like ある条件を充たす. Nevertheless, according to the 漢字漢和辞典 I ...
6
votes
1answer
282 views

Spellings of あなた(がた)

The usual spelling would be hiragana for the first part and kanji for the second, but the spellings 貴女(方)(if the addressee is female) and 貴男(方)(if the addressee is male) are also in use. On to my ...
6
votes
1answer
505 views

Are both spellings for ふけ (fuke) “dandruff” ateji? If not what's actually going on?

The other day after washing my hair I decided to add the Japanese word for "dandruff" to my vocabulary. It turns out to be an interesting word. It has only one pronunciatation, ふけ (fuke), but two ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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?
5
votes
2answers
758 views

Is おにょみ a valid spelling/pronunciation of 音読み?

I assume the answer is no. I am asking, because my IME (Mozc) converts おにょみ into 音読み (same with くにょみ→訓読み). I think this is simply a matter of convenience to save the user from having to press [n] ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

トウモロコシ: Why kana? What is the etymology?

First came across this written in Kana Midori とうもろこし, トウモロコシ【玉蜀黍】 corn (US), maize (UK) (usually written in kana) Why Kana? Is トウモロコシ borrowed from another language? What is the etymology of トウモロコシ?
5
votes
1answer
527 views

How common is the practice of writing わたし in kana and わたくし in kanji?

I've heard that some people only write わたし in kana and only use the Kanji 私 when the intended reading is わたくし. How common is this practice? Is it old-fashioned? If I used it myself as a foreigner, ...
5
votes
1answer
130 views

Are they the same: コショウ vs コショー

The question is are these two pronounced the same. If they are how would one know how to spell them. This applies to any case of ウ vs 一.
5
votes
1answer
278 views

What is the correct way to say 小さい『つ』?

This is a two part question. 1.) When spelling out a word in kana, what is the correct way to call the small つ (for example the small っ in ちっちゃい)? I only have experience with my Japanese friends ...
5
votes
1answer
677 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
9k views

Why are し/ち transliterated as 'shi'/'chi', and not 'si'/'ti'?

In Japanese あいうえお are pronounced 'a i u e o', かきくけこ are pronounced 'ka ki ku ke ko'. The spelling is simple and natural. However, when it comes to サ行, さしすせそ, its relevant roman spelling is 'sa shi su ...
4
votes
2answers
797 views

Translate German name “Markus” to Japanese

I'm trying to translate my German name Markus to Japanese, which seems quite difficult. My first approach was just to transcribe it. Ma → ma → マ r → ru → ル ku → ku → ク s → su → ス giving ...
4
votes
2answers
885 views

我艦隊於黄海清艦撃沈之圖 how do you say this in Japanese?

I am working on an essay for school and I was looking at a wood-block print called, " 我艦隊於黄海清艦撃沈之圖 " by Kobayashi Kiyochika. According to websites, in romaji this is, "Waga kantai Kôkai ...