Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Iteration Marks

In Japanese, iteration marks are symbols which can be used to repeat parts of a word. The most common mark, , is written instead of a repeated kanji. The marks ゝゞヽヾ are written instead of a repeated kana. Besides those, there's also a long く mark, this thing 〻, and the ditto mark 〃.

Usage Frequency

Only two iteration marks are normally used in modern Japanese (々〃). The rest are only used seen in hand-writing or creatively, e.g. in titles, and are avoided in official documents, causing them to become rarer and rarer over time (ゝゞヽヾ〻〱〲).

So don't go around writing them just because you've found out about them today.

Text Direction

Also, keep in mind that Japanese can be written horizontally or vertically. Some iteration marks are easier to type on a computer, so they are used online, and in horizontal text. By contrast, some iteration marks are either too hard to type, or require vertical writing, so basically nobody writes them online.

Note: this page contains a bit of vertical text, which your browser may or may not support.

Names of Iteration Marks

Although the iteration marks do have official names, generally people don't really know those names, and in some cases don't even know what to call them. But, for reference:

Iteration marks are known by the names of:

  • kurikaeshi-fugou
    Iteration mark.
    "Repetition" mark.
  • odoriji
    Dancing character.
  • kasaneji
    Stacking character.
  • onaji

々 is specifically known by the names of:

  • noma
    (because of its appearance.)
  • dou-no-ji-ten
    Character mark of "same."

ゝゞヽヾ are specifically known by the name of:

  • ichi-no-ji-ten
    Character mark of "one."
    (because it looks like 一.)

〻 is specifically known by the name of:

  • ni-no-ji-ten
  • Character mark of "two."
    (because it looks like 二, also it's two strokes.)
  • yusuri-ten
    Shaking mark.
    (because it looks like your hand is trembling as you wrote it.)

The long 〱〲 is specifically known by the name of:

  • ku-no-ji-ten
    Character mark of "ku."
    (because it looks like く.)

〃, the ditto mark, is known by the names of:

  • nono-ji-ten
    Character mark of "ノノ.")
    (because it looks like ノノ.)
    (I guess nono-no-ji-ten ノノの字点 had too many no's...)
  • nono-ten
    ノノ mark.
  • onajiku kigou
    Ditto mark.
    "Same-thing" symbol.

How to Type

Iteration marks can be typed by typing following words and trying to convert. It should appear somewhere in the conversion list of the IME:

  • ku-ri-ka-e-shi
    くりかえし (繰り返し)
  • do-u
    どう (同)
  • o-na-ji
    おなじ (同じ)
How to type 々, 〃, ゝ, ゞ, ヽ, ヾ in Microsoft and Google IME.

Personally I prefer typing kurikaeshi but ymmv.

In the case of 々, typing a word that contains it normally converts to it too, e.g.: hitobito converts to人々 normally, not to 人人.

About Accents

In Japanese, sometimes the first syllable of a suffix gets accented with a dakuten 濁点 diacritic. This is called rendaku 連濁, and may even happen in words that repeat themselves.

Like hitobito ひとと.

You'll notice that iteration marks in Japanese can handle such cases.

ゝヽ〱 have accented ゞヾ〲 counterparts. 々 does not, but it repeats the kanji characters which themselves can't have accents anyway.

Repeating Kana

The ichi-no-ji-ten ゝヽ repeats the previous hiragana and katakana respectively, and they have accented versions ゞヾ.

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.

They can also be used to repeat multiple kana at once.

Confusingly, sometimes this can be done by writing the same number of iteration marks as repeated kana, but other times a single mark is used to indicate the kana of a word repeats itself:

romaji With two marks With one mark
wakuwaku わくヽヽ わくヽ
tokidoki ときヾヽ ときヾ
dokidoki ドキヾヽ ドキヾ

Repeating Kanji

The most commonly used mark, dou-no-ji-ten 々, repeats the previous kanji.

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.

Sometimes, you might see multiple 々 repeating multiple kanji at once. The post-war orthographic reforms deemed this invalid, but it can still be found around.

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~
    Is [it] too provocative for the {pure} boys, [I wonder]?
  • soretomo {sukuuru mizugi no} hou ga {kuru} mono kashira
    Or would [it] {[be more provocative]} if [it] {was a school swimsuit}}?
    • pin to kuru
      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...
    That varies from person to person...

The ni-no-ji-ten 〻 works in a way very similar to 々, in that it looks like it just repeats the kanji before it.

masumasu 益〻
= 益〻 vertically.

sorezore 夫〻
= 夫〻 vertically.

The difference between 々 and 〻 lies in the origin of the words, and, consequently, the readings of the kanji that represent those words. Words of Japanese origin, with kun'yomi readings, would get the 〻 iteration mark, while those with the Chinese on'yomi readings would get the 々 mark.

For example, iro 色, "color," is a Japanese word. So you can write it "various," as iroiro 色〻. Likewise: samazama 様〻, tokidoki 時〻, iyoiyo 愈〻, and so on.

Meanwhile, the repeated morpheme of dandan 段々 is an on'yomi reading. So you can't spell it with 〻 instead.

There are also a bunch of words that repeat themselves that can be read with either readings:

  • hibi 日〻
  • nichinichi 日々
  • toshidoshi 年〻
  • nen'nen 年々

Note that from the way it's written, trembling downwards, you can guess it makes more sense in vertical writing.

Nowadays it's normal to use 々 instead of 〻, and most IME's will convert the words above to 々 but not to 〻. You'd have to type the 〻 separately if you want to write that way. (to be honest, it won't even show in my IME no matter what I type, so I've been copy-pasting it.)

Also, since 々 can be used instead of 〻 now, there seems to be no real reason to use 〻 in typed text, rendering it effectively obsolete or shelving it into "informal" handwriting.

Long Ku

The long く character, ku-no-ji-ten くの字点, is an iteration mark that can repeat two or three characters before it. Because it repeats at least two characters, it's normally written twice as long as a normal character, and it looks like a stretched く.

Writing 〱

To have an idea of how this long ku く is written, here's someone actually writing it:

Although it looks like a ku く, it's technically not that kana, but a separate symbol. In Unicode, 〱〲 represent it, but those are pretty useless since they aren't twice as big than a normal character. For this reason, three characters exist for its halves:

〳 〴〵

That is, vertically it would look like this:


A long ku く, ain't it?

Horizontally, it's rendered as a he へ. That's because, vertically, the top part, 〳. comes before the bottom part, 〵, so if you type them horizontally in the same order:


Sometimes /\, slashes, are written instead.

Ku-no-Ji-Ten Usage

The ku-no-ji-ten 〱〲 can repeat two or three characters at once. The simplest usage would be repeating the kana of words that repeat themselves, such as onomatopoeia or mimetic words:

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 may also repeat multiple kanji.

bakabakashii 馬鹿馬鹿しい
= 馬鹿〳〵しい vertically.

And it may also repeat mixed kanji and kana, that is, words that contain okurigana.

kawarigawari 代り代り
= 代り〴〵 vertically.

Also note that in the example above the word is kawari-gawari, not kawari-kawari. That is: the pronunciation of the repeated part is affected by rendaku, so it gets accented. Likewise, in this case, the accented 〲 is used instead of 〱.

This is even though the 〱-less version (代り代り) didn't have an accent. After all, you don't accent kanji characters like 代.

〃 Ditto Mark

The nono-ji-ten ノノ字点, the Japanese ditto mark, is used to repeat the text of a previous line.

This is a mark that many languages have, even English, so you may know how it works already.

桜才学園生徒会会則 ひとーつ!秘め事は・・・すべて報告せよ! 〃 ふたーつ!筆おろしは・・・慎重に 〃 三つ!見られたら・・・見せ返せ!

In vertical text, dou 仝, or doujou 同上, "same as above," are used instead as a ditto for the previous line (which would be to the right in this case, not above).

The ditto looks like double quotes used in Japanese, but is a different thing entirely.


Marks & Symbols


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  1. can u please make a article about english furigana in kanji ?
    this is very common in manga, anime episodes and movies's title.

    example :

    名探偵コナン から紅くれないの 恋歌 (ラブレター)

    the title is not Meitantei Conan : Kara Kurenai no Renka.
    the title is Meitantei Conan : Kara Kurenai no Rabu Retta (Love Letter)