Monday, December 4, 2017

Dakuten 濁点 / Tenten

The dakuten 濁点, sometimes called tenten てんてん, chonchon ちょんちょん, or dakuonpu 濁音符, are diacritics, accents used on kana to represent a "voice sound," a dakuon 濁音. They look like two small diagonal marks ゛ on the top right of the kana. For example: ga が is ka か with dakuten.

The dakuten are applied to the consonants to turn them into voice consonants. It's used to turn K-S-T-H into G-Z-D-B. The diacritic that turns H into P, and looks like a circle ゜, is called handakuten 半濁点, literally "half" dakuten.

Dakuten and handakuten chart

Different Words

Two words with the same kana are different words if one has dakuten and the other does not. For example:
  • shinsha 新車
    New car.
  • shinja 信者
    Believer.
  • jinsha 仁者
    Person of virtue.
  • jinja 神社
    Shinto shrine.

Rendaku

Sometimes the first syllable of a word becomes voiced when it's suffixed to another word. This phenomenon is called rendaku 連濁. For example:
  • hito
    Person.
  • koibito 恋人
    Lover. Person who's loved.

Strange Tenten Usage

Besides its standard, normal use in turning consonants into voiced consonants, the dakuten can also e used make virtually any kana voiced.

Notably, vu, a voiced u, isn't found in native Japanese words, only in loan-words, and, consequentially, it can only be typed in a computer in katakana, not in hiragana. (although you could type the dakuten separately: う゛)

Artistically, in manga, light novels, etc. the dakuten may be added to random kana when a character is screaming in order to denote added stress to the pronunciation. This is often done together with small kana.

Example: aaaahhhh ああああ゛あ゛ぁ゛ぁ゛

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