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Average Rating: 4.7

は: ha or wa?

ANONYMOUS February 4, 2014, 12:13 am
Kind of unsure if this is a vocab or grammar question, so I just stuck it here... I was wondering in this sentence "Sayaka san, konnichiwa!" Why is は wa, when it's usually pronounced as ha? Or, does it depend on where you put it in the sentence? Thank you c:
は: ha or wa?
ANONYMOUS February 4, 2014, 12:57 am
Why is the particle は used as wa? I don't really understand, seeing as there is a letter for wa, but は is used..? Like, in こんにち は.
は: ha or wa?
Mike_UK February 5, 2014, 8:44 pm
As I understand it, は is used for wa when it is a particle but わ is used when it is part of a word - as in watashi わたし(私)or wakaranai わからない(分からない). Perhaps は is used to show that it is a particle and not part of the word ??? (with there being no spaces between words in Japanese writing) - but I am only guessing!! Maybe someone else can answer with a because....
は: ha or wa?
J742129 February 5, 2014, 10:00 pm
こんいちわ!

Here is an article that explains in depth why the particle wa is written with は:

The history behind this is very long but it all comes down to the ha-line (ハ行) of the hiragana alphabet and how it has evolved over time.

Prior to the Nara Period, the letter and particle は was pronounced ‘pa’ and there was no ‘wa’ sound yet. Let’s look at 川 (かわ) as an example.

-Prior to the Nara Period, 川 was written as かは and pronounced ‘kapa.’

During the Nara Period, the pronunciation of は (the letter and particle) changed to ‘fa.’

-So 川 was then pronounced ‘kafa’ (still written as かは)

This is where the big change happens...Read More
こんいちわ!

Here is an article that explains in depth why the particle wa is written with は:

The history behind this is very long but it all comes down to the ha-line (ハ行) of the hiragana alphabet and how it has evolved over time.

Prior to the Nara Period, the letter and particle は was pronounced ‘pa’ and there was no ‘wa’ sound yet. Let’s look at 川 (かわ) as an example.

-Prior to the Nara Period, 川 was written as かは and pronounced ‘kapa.’

During the Nara Period, the pronunciation of は (the letter and particle) changed to ‘fa.’

-So 川 was then pronounced ‘kafa’ (still written as かは)

This is where the big change happens. During the Heian Period, it was decided that は would be pronounced as ‘wa’ anytime it wasn’t at the beginning of a word.

-Now 川 was pronounced as ‘kawa’ since the は wasn’t the first letter of the word
-But 花 (はな) was still pronounced ‘fana’ since は was the first letter of the word.
-The particle は was still pronounced ‘fa’ since it was considered an independent word.

Between the Kamakura and Muromachi Periods in Japanese history, the particle は was no longer considered an independent word, but instead part of the word it followed. So by the previous rule, the particle は was then pronounced ‘wa.’

After World War II, the alphabet was updated to reflect the modern pronunciation of words. In other words, writing the letter わ when the pronunciation called for the sound ‘wa.’

-So finally, 川 was both written as かわ and pronounced ‘kawa’ formally as we know it today.

However, since the particle は is so commonly used in Japanese and they didn’t want to over-complicate the change in writing-system, they decided not to change the writing of the particle は, even though it is pronounced ‘wa.’

That’s why the particle は is written with the character for ‘ha’ but pronounced ‘wa.’

The link to this article is at:

http://www.speekit.com/a/japanese/grammar/why-the-particle-wa-is-written-with-the-character-ha
は: ha or wa?

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