Tuesday, September 18, 2018

〃 Ditto Mark

The Japanese ditto mark, 〃, called nono-ji-ten ノノ字点, because it resembles the katakana ノ twice, officially onajiku kigou 同じく記号, works just like the English ditto mark: it's used when a part of one line is the same thing as the previous line.

The only difference being that English uses a ditto mark for each word repeated, while Japanese uses just one ditto mark for the entire repeated part.

Example of Japanese ditto mark. ousai gakuen seitokai kaisoku hito~tsu! himegoto wa... subete houkoku se yo! 桜才学園 生徒会会則 ひとーつ!秘め事は…全て報告せよ! Ousai Gakuen Student Council Rules O~ne! Your secrets... report all of them! (ditto) futa~tsu! fudeoroshi wa... shinchou ni 〃ふたーつ!筆下ろしは…慎重に ””””” Tw~o! The first time... be prudent. (ditto) mittsu! miraretara... misekaese! 〃三つ!見られたら…見せ返せ! ””””” Three! If you're seen... show back! Every episode of the anime Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共 has a segment where a new innuendo-filled "rule" is declared. The declarations all start the same way. Not pictured: Tsuda's retorts.

Note that this mark is unlikely to show up in manga, or in any dialogue text. It can show in a school, an actual, real school, in class, when a teacher is writing on an actual blackboard. As well as in tables when you have multiple rows and cells of a row are the same thing as cells of the row above.
Sunday, September 16, 2018

ゝゞヽヾ - Hiragana & Katakana Iteration Marks

In Japanese, the symbols ゝゞヽヾ are hiragana and katakana versions of the kanji iteration mark, kurikaeshi. They work pretty much the same way, repeating the character that precedes them, the main difference being that they're used with kana instead, and they're Used Less.

(note: if you saw ヽ in the furigana space, it's probably an emphasis mark instead.)

The differences between the five symbols are pretty simple:
  • 々 is used with kanji.
  • ゝ and ゞ are used with hiragana.
  • ヽ and ヾ are used with katakana.
  • ゞ and ヾ add a dakuten accent.
  • ゝ and ヽ remove the accent.

Diagram: Iteration marks for Katakan & Hiragana. ヽ(^∇^) ゝ.  Examples: susume すすめ, すゝめ; suzushii すずしい, すゞしい; banana バナナ, バナヽ; habanero ハバネロ, ハゞネロ.

(see Examples for details.)

Regarding the names of the symbols ゝゞヽヾ, they're called ichi-no-ji-ten 一の字点, "character mark [that looks like] 一," but known by the same names 々 has: kurikaeshi 繰り返し, odoriji 踊り字 etc.
Friday, September 14, 2018

Mimetic Words / Ideophones

Mimetic words, or ideophones, are words which mimic or evoke an idea. One kind of ideophone are onomatopoeia, which mimic sounds. But Japanese also features hundreds of non-onomatopoeic ideophones, like sappari さっぱり, yukkuri ゆっくり, kichinto きちんと, chanto ちゃんと, wakuwaku わくわく, pikapika ぴかぴか, nikoniko にこにこ, among others.

This post will explain how such words work.

Chart: Mimetic Words in Japanese: Non-Onomatopoeic Ideophones (a.k.a. gitaigo) and Onomatopoeia (a.k.a. giongo.) The four types ideophones, "imitated... something... words:" gitaigo 擬態語, phenomimes, that imitate "state;" gijougo 擬情語, psychomimes, that imitate "emotion;" giseigo 擬声語, animate phonomimes, that imitate "voice;" and giongo 擬音語, inanimate phonomimes, that imitate "sound." Examples of gitaigo: pikapika ぴかぴか, *sparkling,* yukkuri ゆっくり, *without hurry,* hakkiri はっきり, *with certainty,* chanto ちゃんと, *properly.* Examples of gijougo: wakuwaku わくわく, *excitement,* iraira いらいら, "irritation," bikkuri びっくり, *surprise,* unzari うんざり, *annoyance.* Examples of giseigo: wanwan わんわん, *bow-wow,* konkon こんこん, *what the fox says,* nyaa にゃー, *meow,* gya'! ぎゃっ! *eek!* Examples of giongo: dokidoki ドキドキ, *thump-thump,* zaazaa ザーザー, *white noise,* pyon ぴょん, *boing,* gokun ごくん, *gulp.* Among these words, the following feature reduplication: pikapika, wakuwaku, iraira, wanwan, konkon, dokidoki, zaazaa. Some feature ri り endings, and chanto features an embedded to と.

Friday, September 7, 2018


Onomatopoeia are words that imply the sound they sound like. That is, words like *bang*, the sound of a pistol firing. Or *meow* the sound a cat makes. In Japanese, such words are disturbingly common, so I'll dedicate this article to explaining them.

bari-bari gusha-gusha baki-baki gokun. バリバリグシャグシャバキバキゴクン。 Crunch-crunch munch-munch crack-crack gulp. Onomatopoeia found in the manga MONSTER, the full-color extra volume: Name no Nai Kaibutsu なまえのないかいぶつ
(In case you need it: なまえのないかいぶつ on Amazon.)
Friday, August 31, 2018

"It" in Japanese - Pronoun

If you're looking for how to say "it" in Japanese, I've got some bad news for you: one of the things English has that Japanese doesn't have happens to be the pronoun "it." So there's no way for you say "it" in Japanese, as that word simply doesn't exist. The good news is: you don't need "it" in Japanese.

This happens because most of the time you need an explicit "it" in English, you can simply omit "it" and leave "it" implicit in Japanese.

Example of implicit "it" in Japanese, from manga Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon 小林さんちのメイドラゴン. Transcript: meido fuku... メイド服… "Maid clothes..." Yume? 夢? [Is it a] dream? Yahari yume ka やはり夢か As I thought [it's] a dream.

But let me explain more about each use of "it" in English and what's done in Japanese instead.
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Zettai Ryouiki 絶対領域

In Japanese, the term Zettai Ryouiki 絶対領域, or ZR, literally "absolute," zettai 絶対, "territory," ryouiki 領域, so "Absolute Territory" in English, refers to the space of bare thighs between the skirt and above knee-length socks.

Yes, seriously. That's what Zettai Ryouiki means.

Scene of anime Outbreak Company showing what's Zettai Ryouiki by having the main character write it on a blackboard and then point to the area of bare thighs between the skirt and above knee-length socks of a girl on a magazine.
Sunday, August 19, 2018

ヶ - Small Ke ケ

In Japanese, the small katakana ke ケ, ヶ, is a bit different from the other small kana, in that it's not usually read ke, but instead as ka か, ga が, or even ko こ. Similar to how the small tsu isn't read as tsu つ.

For example, ni-ka-getsu 二ヶ月 is how you say "two months," as in counting the months. It's not read ni-ke-getsu despite having a ke in the middle.
Monday, July 2, 2018

Hiragana-Chan: Android App for Learning the Kana

So I'm making an Android app for people who like anime and want to start learning Japanese. It helps memorize the hiragana and katakana. Utterly basic stuff and not really interesting for anyone who's already learned them, but should be useful for absolute beginners.

Link: Hiragana-Chan on Google Play.

Since I never made something like this before so I don't know if it works. Do post feedback in the comments below if you have any.

Screenshot of Japanese romaji/kana quiz app Hiragana-chan
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Yome 嫁

The word yome means "wife" in Japanese, or "bride," or "daughter-in-law," the "wife of your son," or "bride of your son," or it can mean "read!" too but that's something else entirely and has nothing to do with what this article is about.
Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ojousama お嬢様

The word ojousama means "daughter" in Japanese, similar to musume 娘, and it also means "young girl," and "rich girl." In anime and anime-related discussion, ojousama or ojou-sama often refers to a rich girl character.
Friday, May 18, 2018

Bocchan 坊っちゃん

You might have heard the word bocchan in anime before, being used by maids and butlers to refer to a boy whom they serve, their "young master." But what's the real meaning of bocchan in Japanese?
Friday, May 4, 2018

Okusama 奥様

In Japanese, okusama means "wife." It's kind of synonymous with tsuma 妻, but that word is often used more literally, like a "wife," while okusama may be used to refer to a "wife" person, like "my wife" or "your wife."
Thursday, May 3, 2018

Goshujinsama ご主人様

In Japanese, the word goshujinsama ご主人様 means the "master" of a servant, in anime, mostly of a maid. The word may also refer to the "owner" of a house or shop, to one's "husband," or to a pet's "owner."
Friday, April 27, 2018

Aniue, Aneue, Chichiue, Hahaue 兄上, 姉上, 父上, 母上

In Japanese, the words aniue, aneue, chichiue, and hahaue mean "older brother," "older sister," "father," and "mother," respectively, the same thing as ani, ane, chichi and haha. However, the words with the __ue pattern have a different nuance.

Ane 姉

The word ane means "older sister" in Japanese. It's somewhat synonymous with oneesan お姉さん, but differs in usage. (see ane vs. oneesan). The "older brother" counterpart would be ani, while imouto is "younger sister."