Re: Fwd: Kana and Case (was [totally OT] Unicode terminology)

From: Katsuhiko Momoi (
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 21:01:09 EST

As other people commented, there is nothing in principle that prevents
Japanese from writing Hiragana with the elongation mark U+30FC. The
Japanese Language Council can recommend all they want but the "spirit of
language" has its own will as it has always been in any language. In
fact a couple of Japanese top 10 "Popular Words of the Year" in recent
years use U+30FC. See for example an entry for 1987, "da-ijo-buda-" (No
problem.) on this page:

and one of the 2 most widely popular words of 1998, "dattyu-no" (requires a context and a physical gag to explain this and so I won't.), on this page:
(Click on the 1998 link on the left.)
The other elongation character, U+FF5E, is also used very widely in
Hiragana writing in informal/comic book/personal mail writing. It could
even be that U+FF5E represents a kind of contour tone associated with
this jocular use, as opposed to, say, a more flat tone, with U+30FC.

The use of these elongation symbols for Hiragana is so established in
popular writing that Japanese search engines must ignore the differences
between these elongation symbols in addition to ignoring Hiragana and
Katakana differences.

- Kat

Rick McGowan wrote:

> For what it's worth, in this oh-so-important discussion... I have seen this length mark used with both Katakana and Hiragana (I suppose that puts me in the good company of 'Leven Digit Boy, only he can prove it and I can't). Call the usage nonce or whatever... So what? It would be fair to say this length mark is not NORMALLY used with Hiragana, which NORMALLY uses the vowel "u" to indicate lengthening. Katakana likewise NORMALLY uses the length mark, but is not prevented from using the "u" vowel, and in some contexts does so. For what it's worth trivia-wise, Katakana-as-okurigana is a style not normally used in the ordinary writing of Japanese sentences, but they can be, and on occasion are (especially in old orthography) don't be surprised when you see them... the natives are not going nuts, they're merely surprising the Conservative Foreign Formalists.
> I suppose the bicameral name of this thing, U+30FC KATAKANA-HIRAGANA PROLONGED SOUND MARK, is one of those Great Mysteries Buried in Time, the answer to which only Dr. Whistler knows. (I would lay a handful of soft currency on the truth of the proposition that there exists an ancient meeting document on yellow lined paper of the pre-Consortium Unicode Working Group which could shed light on the question of this name, but I digress.) At least the name indicates that one is not nominally prevented from using it for Katakana, thus pre-empting perennial requests from the Completist Fringe for the addition of a second length mark for use with Hiragana.
> Rick
> Begin forwarded message:
>> From: "Ayers, Mike" <>
>> Date: Wed Nov 22, 2000 01:32:58 PM US/Pacific
>> To: Unicode List <>
>> Cc:
>> Subject: RE: Kana and Case (was [totally OT] Unicode terminology)
>>> From: []
>>> Okay. Get out your copy of the lyrics to the Ranma
>>> 1/2 Complete Vocal Collection Vol. 1. Now look at
>>> the lyrics to Ranbada Ranma (that's Track 12) and
>>> tell me that the long vowel mark is not used with
>>> hiragana.
>> The long vowel mark is not used with hiragana. Either there is a
>> misuse or (most likely), you're interpreting a hyphen as a long vowel mark.

Katsuhiko Momoi
Netscape International Client Products Group

What is expressed here is my personal opinion and does not reflect official Netscape views.

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