は: ha or wa?

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:

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.

Mike_UK

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....

J742129

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

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