Why is WA written as HA?

Japanese, general discussion on the language
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Cabbage
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Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Cabbage » Tue 03.29.2005 8:11 pm

Anyone know why the particle WA is written as HA (eg, watashi WA)? I've never learned japanese with hiragana before (we used the old version of JFBP) so I only just noticed.

I'm perfectly happy with it, but I'm just interested if anyone knows the history behind it, or if it is just one of those common irregularities in the cores of all languages.

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Spaztick
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Spaztick » Tue 03.29.2005 9:44 pm

Just an irregularity. If you listen closely to someone it does sound like "ha" but we say "wa" because it sounds more like "wa" than "ha."
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Mugen » Tue 03.29.2005 10:17 pm

actually i was talking to a japanese friend about that and they said that long time ago they used to use the hiragana 'ha' but pronounced it as wa and over the years they changed it up but kept the writen ha and the pronounced wa to keep things as easy as possible of a transition.

Thats what i was told anyways.

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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Smooth » Tue 03.29.2005 10:38 pm

I heard differently.

But maybe not that differently. With it started because out here because I started to make flashcards of the different vocabulary words I was trying to jam into my mind. I would take these cards everywhere, the club, bars, park, buses, the mall, starbucks... etc... a good way to meet Japanese friends both male and female.

Either way they would correct certain things. Like the syllable O is written with the hiragana U although you pronounce it O. The particle E, as in Tokyo E ( in Tokyo ), is written as HE. The particle O is written with the alternate hiragana WO. And WA is HA.

The reason they told me was since there aren't spaces between words, using the alternate makes it easier to make sure you are reading the particle and not a word. It didn't make sense to me, still doesn't, but that was what several younger Okinawans told me. Which, since I didn't do the research myself, I take with a grain of salt.

But I see where it goes looking at the big picture. I email my girlfriend everyday in Japanese. And since I only started learning Kanji ototoi, I've only been writing simple phrases and sentences. All in hiragana. Like that it is difficult. But messing around with the kanji, the particles stick right out.
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Datadog
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Datadog » Wed 03.30.2005 1:27 pm

I guess it's sort of like how English has it's own share of words where the letters don't make any sense. Just look at "Laugh" and "Elephant." Who decided "gh" and "ph" should sound like the letter "f?"

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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by dreamingxashley » Wed 03.30.2005 2:57 pm

If you want confusing, try Irish or French, but Irish especially. In old Irish, they tossed in loads of extra consonants that meant absolutely nothing when pronouncing the word. I dont have any examples, but I remember looking through some old books and the way they spelled words would make your brain melt. lol :o
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Ady001 » Wed 03.30.2005 10:16 pm

Like Kanji though, you cannot change them thorugh time
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Gaijinian » Wed 03.30.2005 10:43 pm

[quote]Like Kanji though, you cannot change them thorugh time
:o
Wha..?

This is just... WAY off.

You think kanji from the han period are unchanged...?

:|No...
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by Opgots » Wed 03.30.2005 10:54 pm

Either way they would correct certain things. Like the syllable O is written with the hiragana U although you pronounce it O. The particle E, as in Tokyo E ( in Tokyo ), is written as HE. The particle O is written with the alternate hiragana WO. And WA is HA.

The syllable "O" is only written with the hirigana for "U" when it immediately after an "O" in the same word. So itd be written "Ou" (King I believe), but pronounced "Oo". As a counterpart, if it was pronounced "Ou" it would mean Follow or Owe (I think).

The reasons each of you presented would make sense. However, I dont see how an entire nation would begin mispronouncing the same syllable with the same syllable, and on top of that gramatically change it. So I have to go with the more logical one. I would make sense that it is used to help tell words apart. Thats is exactly why I believe the Japanese use the post-positions on nearly every word. Since they leave no considerable space in their writing, a way to differentiate the word would be necessary. And to us the hirigana would be just the point necessary.
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RE: Why is WA written as HA?

Post by dreamingxashley » Wed 03.30.2005 10:55 pm

Thats why theres On and Kun readings right? Because they cant be changed through time? :P
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