And kanji with manga
Monday, March 6, 2017

In Japanese, the symbol means the kanji 漢字 that comes before it should be repeated, e.g.: 人々 is the same as 人人, the kanji twice. It's called noma ノマ, kurikaeshi 繰り返し, among other names.

Examples of 々 in Japanese words: yamayama dandan tokidoki souzoushii hibi kokkoku un'nun 山々段々時々騒々しい日々刻々云々.

Meaning

Again, the 々 symbol repeats the kanji that comes before it. It repeats only one single kanji character, not multiple. It doesn't repeat the reading of the kanji, so the same repeated kanji may be read differently. And it definitely doesn't repeat non-kanji characters.

Usage with Reduplication

The 々 likely exists because the kanji represent morphemes, and the Japanese language is full of words that feature reduplication of morphemes that kanji represent, which is when a morpheme repeated after itself in a word.

For example, in Japanese, a reduplication may have a plural meaning of the simplex word:

Simplex
(singular or plural)
Reduplication
(always plural)
yama

Mountain(s).
yamayama
山山 (=山々)
Mountains.
ten

Dot(s).
tenten
点点 (=点々)
Dots.
dai

Generation(s).
daidai
代代 (=代々)
Generations.

A morpheme may be pronounced differently when it's suffixed to another. There are various such changes of pronunciation in Japanese, such as:

  • koibito
    恋人(こいと)
    Lover.
  • ikkoku
    一刻(いこく)
    One instant.
    • sokuonbin 促音便: ichi, koku いち, こく) became ikkoku いっこく, the chi ち syllable became a small tsu, which is called a sokuon 促音.
  • han'nou
    反応(はんう)
    Response.
    • renjou 連声: han, ou はん, おうbecame han'nou はんのう, the o お vowel became a no の syllable.

The 々 just means the same kanji is repeated, which means the morpheme it represents is repeated, which means a morpheme is suffixed to itself, which means the suffixed morpheme—here called the reduplicant—can be a affected by changes in pronunciation just like any other suffix and thus have a different pronunciation, and consequently reading, from the base morpheme it's suffixed to. For example:

Simplex Reduplication
hito

Person. People.
hitobito
人人 (=人々)
People.
(affected by rendaku.)
koku

Instant.
kokkoku
刻刻 (=刻々)
With each instant.
(affected by sokuonbin.)
un

Saying.
un'nun
云云 (=云々)
So and so.
(affected by renjou.)

Some notes on reduplication:

Just because a reduplication is a word, that doesn't mean its base morpheme is a word, too.

For example, although un'nun is a normal word used to say "he said so and so," "it was written so and so," or "this and that of [some subject]," a single un 云 doesn't seem to mean anything in modern Japanese.

Not all reduplicated end in the reduplicant, nor do they all start with a morpheme that will be reduplication. For example, some i-adjectives ending in ~shii ~しい contain reduplications:

  • souzoushii
    騒々しい
    Noisy.
  • imaimashii
    忌々しい
    Annoying.
  • ririshii
    凛々しい
    Gallant.

Some other examples of reduplication with 々:

  • samazama
    様々
    Various.
  • tokidoki
    時々
    Sometimes.
  • hibi
    日々
    Days. Everyday.
  • iroiro
    色々
    Various things. Stuff.
  • nakanaka
    中々
    Very.
  • tamatama
    偶々
    Accidentally. By chance.
  • dandan
    段々
    Gradually.
  • masumasu
    益々
    Increasingly.
  • tsugitsugi
    次々
    One by one. One after other.
  • tokidoki
    時々
    Sometimes.
  • komagoma
    細々
    In detail.
  • junjun
    順々
    In turn. In order.
  • sanzan
    散々
    Thoroughly.

Repeating Kanji

The 々 repeats the previous kanji. It only repeats the kanji immediately before it, so it can't repeat two kanji at once. For example, 御目々 equals 御目 plus 目 (御目目). It doesn't equal 御目 twice (御目御目).

  • o-me
    御目
    Eye. Eyes.
    (body part.)
  • o-me-me
    御目々
    Eyes.
  • o-te-te
    御手々
    Hands.

In a computer, it doesn't make much difference, but in hand-writing it's quicker and easier to write the noma 々 symbol, which takes only three strokes, than to write the same kanji again.

Since 々 repeats the kanji BEFORE it, there must be something before 々 for it to work, so there are no words in the Japanese language that start with 々.

Orthographic Errors

As a general rule, 々 is ONLY and ALWAYS used with reduplicated morphemes. This means that, for example, 人人 is always spelled 人々, and nobody is going to spell it 人人. If you can write 々, you should, but there are cases where it's considered orthographically wrong to use it.

Repeating Different Morphemes

The 々 shouldn't be used to repeat two different morphemes spelled with the same kanji in a same word, that is, if a kanji appears twice, but is read completely different each time (not a mere change of pronunciation difference), then you can't use 々.(detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp:あなたがたって)

For example:

  • kyoubi
    今日日 (correct.)
    今日々 (wrong.)
    In modern times. These days.

The word above SHOULD NOT be spelled as 今日々, because the repeated kanji represents different morphemes.

The word kyoubi is composed of kyou 今日, "today," and hi 日, "day." Since hibi 日々 means "days," and "today" can be paraphrased as "this day," I guess kyoubi means literally "these days" as in "in today's world."

Since kyou and hi are different morphemes, 々 can't be used.

It's worth noting that, to make matters worse, kyou is a single morpheme spelled by two kanji. This is also called a jukujikun 熟字訓 reading, in the sense that the 今日 kanji are exceptionally read as kyou when they're together.

Note that you can't divide kyou into two parts—you can't say 今 is read k~ and 日 is read ~you or something like that—because a morpheme is an indivisible unit. Although, considering that there are several words that mean "this X" and "this Y" that start with k~, it's possible k~ is a morpheme, but one that can't be represented in modern Japanese using kana 仮名.

Since we don't know which parts of kyou the 今 and 日 kanji are supposed to represent, there's no way to know if 今日々 is supposed to be k-you-you or ky-ou-ou. In any case, it definitely wouldn't be kyoubi.

Similarly:

  • anata-gata
    貴方方 (correct.)
    貴方々 (wrong.)
    You. (plural.)

Repeating Across Word Boundary

The 々 shouldn't be used to repeat a same morpheme across word boundary.(chiebukuro:々々の使い方は)

For example:

  • minshu
    民主
    Popular sovereignty. (in which the people 民 are the lord 主 of the land.)
  • shugi
    主義
    Doctrine.
  • minshu-shugi
    民主主義 (correct.)
    民主々義 (wrong.)
    Democracy.

The word above SHOULD NOT be spelled 民主々義, even though it's the same shu 主 twice, because it's a compound noun composed of two smaller nouns, and each shu 主 is in a different noun.

  • seitokai-kaichou
    生徒会会長 (right.)
    生徒会々長 (wrong.)
    Student council council president.

々々

Sometimes, 々々, literally 々 twice, is used in a word. This either means two kanji were repeated instead of one, or, in rare cases, that one kanji is repeated twice. This usage is considered incorrect (on top of ambiguous) and should be avoided.(chiebukuro:々々の使い方は)

Repeating Two Kanji at Once

Typically, 々々 means two previous kanji were repeated, rather than a single kanji being repeated twice. For example:

  • hitori
    一人
    One person.
  • hitorihitori
    一人一人 (correct.)
    一人々々 (wrong.)
    One by one. Each person individually.

You may find the word above spelled 一人々々, in which case it's read hitori then hitori again: hitori-hitori 一人一人, not as hitori then ~ri ~人 again twice: *hitori-ri-ri 一人人人.

Other examples:

  • baka
    馬鹿
    Stupid. Idiot.
  • bakabakashii
    馬鹿馬鹿しい (correct.)
    馬鹿々々しい (wrong.)
    Foolish. Absurd. Ridiculous.
純な男子にはちょっと刺激的かしらー それともスクール水着の方がくるものかしら それは個人々々で・・・
Manga: Azumanga Daioh あずまんが大王 (Volume 1, Page 75, ビキニ)
  • Context: a teacher brings a bikini to a school pool, gets reprimanded for it.
  • {jun na} danshi niwa chotto shigeki-teki kashira~
    純な男子にはちょっと刺激的かしら
    Is [it] too provocative for the {pure} boys, [I wonder]?
  • soretomo {sukuuru mizugi no} hou ga {kuru} mono kashira
    それともスクール水着の方がくるものかしら
    Or would [it] {[be more provocative]} if [it] {was a school swimsuit}}?
    • pin to kuru
      ピンとくる
      To click (in the sense of getting an idea). To have an epiphany.
      To appeal someone greatly. To fit one's tastes perfectly.
  • sore wa kojinkojin de...
    それは個人々々で・・・
    That varies from person to person...

Repeating One Kanji Twice

Albeit unlikely to happen ever again, the 々 has been used to repeat a single kanji twice before:

  • Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
    七々々の埋蔵金
    Nanana Ryuugajou's Buried Treasure.
    (title of a light novel series.)

Repeating Non-Kanji Characters

The 々 can't be used to repeat a non-kanji character, only kanji.

Symbols that repeat the previous character are called iteration marks. The 々 is an iteration mark for kanji, so it can only be used with kanji.

There are also iteration marks for kana 仮名 (hiragana ひらがな and katakana カタカナ), which are ゝゞヽヾ, plus some other symbols, like a long ku く-shaped one, but these are highly unusual compared to .

  • kokoro
    こころ
    こ々ろ (wrong, こ isn't a kanji.)
    こゝろ (right, but unusual.)
    Heart. Mind. Soul.
Diagram of ku-no-ji-ten くの字点 iteration mark, showing examples wakuwaku わくわく, tokidoki ときどき, dokidoki ドキドキ, shoushou しょうしょう, and tokorodokoro ところどころ

Is 々 a Kanji?

In practice, the 々 looks like a kanji, as it's used to write words, and read like kanji, except it has no reading itself, unlike kanji, it just repeats stuff, so it's technically not a kanji, but some sort of symbol, a mark, a punctuation in Japanese language, except that, more technically, it's a character that came from China, so if we're going to be pointlessly technically technical, it is, indeed, a "Chinese character," a kanji 漢字.

In practice, it doesn't really matter if it's a kanji or not. Even the manji 卍 "swastika" is technically a kanji. What difference does that make?

Name

The 々 has several names.

In English, 々 is called repetition kanji, repetition mark, or kanji iteration mark. Note, however, that 々 is a symbol, a mark, and not a kanji character.

In Japanese, 々 is called:

  1. kurikaeshi
    繰り返し
    Because that's what it does. It "repeats," kurikaesu 繰り返す, stuff.
  2. kurikaeshi fugou
    繰り返し符号
    "Repetition symbol."
  3. odoriji
    踊り字
    "Dancing character." (maybe because it "skips" over writing a character.)
  4. kasaneji
    重ね字
    "Stacking character." (for stacking two of the same thing.)
  5. dou-no-ji-ten
    同の字点
    "Same-letter mark."
  6. onaji
    同じ
    Because it's the "same."
  7. noma
    ノマ
    Because 々 looks like the katakana noma ノマ.

How to Type

Normally, you don't need to type 々. If you type a word with repeated kanji like hitobito ひとびと, and try to convert it to kanji, you should get the choice to convert the hiragana to 人々, with the 々 mark in it already.

To type it alone, some IME's show it as a choice if you try to convert kurikaeshi 々. But since kurikaeshi can be kurikaeshi 繰り返し plus a lot of other words, the 々 symbol may be way down the list. Other names such as onaji 同じ, dou 同 and odoriji 踊り字 may also work.

How to type 々, 〃, ゝ, ゞ, ヽ, ヾ in Microsoft and Google IME.

Personally, I just type hibi 日々 and delete the 日. It's easier that way.

References

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