Wa: わ, は

Whodunit

Senior Member
Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
I think "wa" (わ) can express emotion or admiration, whereas "ha" (は) maks a topic. In the following example from this page, they seem to be mixed up (if I'm not mistaken) - and even the Rômaji sentences left to the Japanese ones show "wa" where they wrote "ha":

Watashi wa nihongo ga suki desu. 日本語が好きです。
Watashi wa nihongo wo ichikagetu narrate imasu. 日本語を一ヶ月習っています。

Maybe it's a silly question, but are they all typos or am I just too dumb to distinguish between は and わ? The same must happen to 今日. This looks like "konnichi ha" instead of "konnichi wa".

有難う 前もって。 :)
 
  • Krümelmonster

    Senior Member
    Germany, german
    Also ich bin in japanisch auch Anfänger aber ich glaube, dass "wa" als kennzeichnung von nem Satzgegenstand mit dem Schriftzeichen "ha" geschrieben wird... genauso wie "o" in diesem Zusammenhang mit dem Schriftzeichen für "wo" ausgedrückt wird. Macht man halt so, weiß net warum.
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Both わ and は are pronounced wa, maybe that's why they used that notation.
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    No, を is o/wo and ほ is ho.

    I meant は as a topic marker is pronounced wa, not all は's.
     

    Thomas F. O'Gara

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Yes, は is normally pronounced "ha."

    However, the sentence topic marker is written with は, and then it is pronounced "wa."

    Anyplace else where you need to write "wa" it is written わ.

    There were other anomalies in Japanese writing similar to this before WWII. Most of them were eliminated in writing reform changes after the war, which was also when the standard number of Kanji required was limited to 1,945 characters. But as this particular anomaly was so ingrained, it was left as it is.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Thomas F. O'Gara said:
    There were other anomalies in Japanese writing similar to this before WWII. Most of them were eliminated in writing reform changes after the war, which was also when the standard number of Kanji required was limited to 1,945 characters. But as this particular anomaly was so ingrained, it was left as it is.

    Okay, thank you for the answer. Do you want to say that the "wa-ha" problem is the only anomaly in Japanese writing? Can the topic marker は be written in Kanji, as well, or is it always in Hiragana?
     

    地獄の森_jigoku_no_mori

    Member
    Canadian English :)(Also French)
    Well, if what I remember is true, at one point all of Japanese was written in kanji, so at one point in time "ha," as a particle, probably had a kanji.
     

    Thomas F. O'Gara

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Whodunit:

    Wa-ha is not the only anomaly. One other major anomaly that remains is using the kana for "he" to write the particle "e". Another one is the use of the particle for "wo" as the object particle. But there were also various kana usages that were eliminated, such as writing the verbal ending "-u" with the kana for "fu".

    There were also a number of variant kana that were dropped, mainly because they were pronounced like other kana in modern Japanese; for example, there were an entire series for the "wa-wi-wu-we-wo" sequence, of which only "wa" and "wo" remained.

    Of course, it's not fair to characterize Japanese writing as being a uniform system in the sense that Spanish or even Russian is. IMHO Japanese is probably the hardest language in the world to learn to write properly; Japanese themselves spend a lifetime learning the nuances of writing personal names correctly, for example, not infrequently there are several different ways to write surnames that are pronounced the same, and the converse is true - the same written surname may be pronounced differently by two different families.

    As for whether or not there are ways to write the particles in Kanji, you'd have to go to a specialist in early texts. Presumably there were, but I doubt that most modern Japanese would recognize them as such.
     

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Whodunit, if you really dōshitemo wanna know ;), a kanji for sentential topic marker -wa is 者. I am not sure if there are others but NONE of them are used currently.

    者 does not represent -wa phonetically but used as a kanji substitute because it is a topic marker or a subject marker (I am not very sure which more accurately describes its function) in the ancient written Chinese standard.
     

    Flaminius

    hedomodo
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    In modern Japanese spelling convention, case markers are never to be written in kanji. 之 (for genitive marker -no) can be found in proper names but never in ordinary texts.
     

    Captain Haddock

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    The last sound shift in Japanese involved ha, he, and fu turning into the sounds wa, e, and u in many words. Also, the 'w' was lost on wi, we, and wo, leaving 'wa' all by itself. Before this shift, the 'wa' particle was indeed pronounced 'ha', 'e' pronounced 'he', and 'o' pronounced 'wo'.

    Most words are written with kanji, and using the newly correct hiragana for pronunciation wasn't a bit deal, but it seems that the particles ha, he, and wo were used so commonly, that they kept the old way of being written (just like very short, common words in English tend to deviate more from their actual pronunciation).

    Undoubtedly you'll eventually read older stories that spell 会う as 会ふ and 青 (ao) as あを.

    Edit: thanks Sinbadx81, that's an interesting Wikipedia piece. It just occurs to me that seeing the older forms (like 帰る once being かへる) explains why some verbs which appear to be the -ru type are actually the -u type.

    Edit 2: This is shift also why the verb 言う (iu) is pronounced ゆう.
     

    _forumuser_

    Senior Member
    Italian
    To add to captain Haddock's explanations, all は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ were originally pronounced as they are written: ha, hi, hu, he, ho (or fa, fi, fu, fe, fo). Then at some point in the Heian period, people started pronouncing them wa wi wu, we, wo (a i u e o), but writing continued to reflect the older pronunciation, eg. 河 (川) = かは (read kawa but written kaha)。This is how you find these sounds written in older texts.

    Finally, in recent times, all graphs which no longer reflected the actual pronunciation were replaced. 言ふ ihu became 言う iu, 香り = かほり = kahori became かおり kaori, and so forth. は = wa was left as an exception, apparently because being so omnipresent would have been harder to replace than graphs that appear less frequently in writing.

    I hope this adds something to the discussion.
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    たぶん shiremono さんが詳しいと思いますがもともとはそれらもパピプペポで発音されてたんじゃなかったっけ?
     
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