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Japanese character questionFollow

#1 Sep 30 2010 at 3:28 PM Rating: Decent
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Yes, it's not really FFXIV related, but I was just curious and figured that my best resource of people that I already know who might happen to know some Japanese would be here. If you don't know the answer to the question, my apologies for taking up your time.

Anyway, while I understand the difference between わ and は, and when to use は (for pronouns) vs when to use わ (as part of a word), I was wondering: Why is there a need for two characters for wa? For example "わたしは..." where wa is used twice. As I said, I understand that は is the particle pointer and わ is not, but why the need for two characters, as opposed to "はたしは" or "わたしわ"?
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#2 Sep 30 2010 at 3:41 PM Rating: Good
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For the same reason you don't write "rite" instead of "write" in English. "ha" and "wa" are different letters and pronounced differently in most of the words. Particle は is pronounced like "wa" because of tradition but in most of the other words it's pronounced "ha".
#3 Sep 30 2010 at 3:43 PM Rating: Good
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it's my understanding that the "は" character being pronounced "wa" but written "ha" when used as a particle is a holdover from older/archaic japanese. and a similar thing seems to happen with "を"... which I don't think... off the top of my head... I've seen used in any other function except as a particle, wherein it's pronounced "o" except occasionally by singers... I think? haha

actually, writing and pronunciation mismatches seem pretty common in languages across the board. english is especially full of them bc english as a language has such a complicated heritage. (by writing/pronunciation mismatches, I mean things like tough/dough/through etc.) you get a fair amount of odd pronunciation / dropped letters in french also -- I read that some people theorize all those silent letters were pronounced once... a long time ago....

anyway, that's maybe not a very satisfactory answer haha, but it's been ages since I took japanese... and the linguistics stuff I've read only covered indo-european languages... so maybe someone else has a more specific answer. :D;;
#4 Sep 30 2010 at 3:48 PM Rating: Default
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While all very informative, I now know what a brain aneurysm feels like.

-.O
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#5 Sep 30 2010 at 3:55 PM Rating: Good
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Yeah, I was having a tough time with "Shizuka na onna no ko wa *************** where it is written しずかなおんなのこははなした and the "はは" threw me when trying to read it, which prompted this question.

Thanks for the information :)
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Mikhalia: and FWIW, my posts are 95% helpful, informative, or funny.
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Tyapex: 393 posts of utter crap...
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#6 Sep 30 2010 at 4:00 PM Rating: Decent
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that's what kanji is for!

(says the one who can barely read kanji lololol)
#7 Sep 30 2010 at 4:17 PM Rating: Good
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Regular old sound change over time.

The particle "wa" was, in fact, pronounced like the syllable "ha" in Early Middle Japanese (technically, both were pronounced "fa", using the f-sound that, in Modern Japanese, is only found in "fu"). The pronunciation has changed, but because it is such a frequently-used word, the spelling remained the same.

The same is true for the particle "o" - it used to be pronounced "wo", but over time, Japanese has dropped the W sound everywhere except before the vowel A. Again, because it's a common word, it retained the same spelling, even though the kana "wo" is otherwise obsolete. Of course, the archaic spelling, using a kana that is otherwise extinct, also have the side-effect of making this rather valuable particle stand out in text.
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