Monday, December 4, 2017

゛ (dakuten 濁点)

In Japanese, 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 voiced 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
    New car.
  • shinja
  • jinsha
    Person of virtue.
  • jinja
    Shinto shrine.


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
  • koibito
    Lover. Person whom one loves.

Peculiar Usage

There are a few atypical ways dakuten is used.

ぢ and づ

The di ぢ and dzu づ are pronounced identically to ji じ and zu ず in standard Japanese, as spoken in Tokyo 東京. In other parts of Japan there are regional dialects in which they're all pronounced identically, or all pronounced differently.

See yotsugana 四つ仮名 for details.

Yotsugana usage across Japan.

The vu is an u ウ with dakuten.

This character isn't found in native Japanese words, only in loan-words, which would be normally spelled with katakana. On a computer, it can only be typed in katakana, not in hiragana, although you could type the dakuten separately: う゛.


The あ゙ (or ア゙, あ゛) is an a あ with dakuten.

This character only exists in writing and doesn't represent an actual different vowel.(福居誠二, 2017:p69,n32)

  • "a´" nado wa {hyouki nomi de ari}, {genjitsu no hatsuon wo arawashite-iru} mono dewanai.
    Things like "あ゛" {only have written representation, and} {don't represent a real pronunciation}.
    • genjitsu - "real," as in found in reality, in practice.

This character isn't found in any actual word, but does have some uses, specially in manga, light novels, etc.

The あ゙ can be used instead of ha は as an interjection, like "huh? What are you talking about?!"

Presumably, it's supposed to be ha without the consonant, but a あ alone sounds too soft to transmit the bewilderment or indignation of the character, so a あ with a dakuten is used instead. For example:

一人称「俺」はやめた方がいい あ゙? 特に目上の人の前ではね 天元様に会うかもしれないわけだし 「私」最低でも「僕」にしな
Manga: Jujutsu Kaisen 呪術廻戦 (Chapter 66, 壊玉‐弐-)
  • Context: Gojou Satoru 五条悟, who doesn't like to obey rules, is told to obey societal norms.
  • ichininshou "ore" wa {yameta} hou ga ii
    [It] would be better if {[you] stopped} [using] the first person pronoun "ore."
    • ore - a masculine first person pronoun that's not used in formal situations.
  • ?
    • What did you just say to me???
  • toku ni {me-ue no} hito no mae dewa ne
    Specially in front of [your] superiors, [alright].
    • {me-ue no} hito
      People [who] {are above you}.
      [Your] superiors.
  • {Tengen-sama ni au kamoshirenai} wake dashi
    {[We] might meet Tengen-sama}, [after all].
    • In this series, Tengen-sama is an important person, as hinted by the fact the ~sama suffix is used with their name.
  • "watashi", saitei demo "boku" ni shi na
    Use "watashi," at very minimum "boku," [okay].

Screaming or Crying

When a character is screaming angry, or bawling, crying, their voice will be different from normal, and they'll pronounce words differently from normal. To represent this, authors may sometimes add a dakuten to every single character, or add them randomly.

You can end up with goro´zu こ゛ろ゛す゛ as a very angry way to say korosu 殺す, "[I] will kill [you]," for example."

Manga: Nichijou 日常 (Chapter 12)
  • Context: Aioi Yuuko 相生祐子 screams.
  • a´a´~~~~~~~~''!!!
ア゛ーーッ(汚い高音) 来ないでェ!! 来ないでくれェ!! やめてーーッ!!!
Manga: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃 (Chapter 23, 猪は牙を剥き善逸は眠る)
  • Context: Agatsuma Zen'itsu 我妻善逸 runs away from an oni.
  • ~~' (kitanai kouon)
    Aahhhhh! (filthy high-pitched tone.)
    • The text in parentheses describes Zen'itsu's iconic, utterly obnoxious voice.
  • konaidee!!
    Don't come!! (literally.)
    Go away!!
  • konaide-kuree!!
    Please go away!!
  • yamete~~'!!!


Some of the less common iteration marks have dakuten versions, which allows them to express rendaku, specially in words that feature reduplication, such as mimetic words.

Diagram: Iteration marks for Katakana & 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.
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


It seems the modern side dots in the furigana space used for emphasis were a predecessor for the dakuten.(小松, 1971:146)

  • dakuon-gana ni subete dakuten ga kuwaerareru you ni natta no wa zutto ato no jiki no koto de atte
    The practice of putting accent marks (dakuten) in all accented kana happened much later.
  • sono katoki ni kenten ni yoru fudakuten ga mochiirareteiru koto
    In the transition period the side-dots were used.
    • kenten - literally "circle dots," another term for bouten 傍点, "side dots."


Marks & Symbols

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