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Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

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Aki_no_Kage
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Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby Aki_no_Kage » January 27th, 2015 2:45 pm

Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?
It is confusing me so much! I thought that はwas "ha" but when asking how to say something in another language it is "wa"!
Example: 「washing machine」にほんごでなんですか。Washing machine wa nihongo de nan desu ka?"What's 'washing machine' in Japanese?"

Can anyone explain this please!? Thanks very much!! :D

rayman.the.one.and.only1_498570
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby rayman.the.one.and.only1_498570 » January 27th, 2015 4:53 pm

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know は (Ha) is ONLY pronounced "Wa" when used as a sentence particle marking the topic of a sentence. For example If I were to say "Watashi WA (は)HAna (はな) desu" 「わたしははなです」 "My name is hana" The name Hana would NOT be pronounced Wana. The hirgana for は is only used as wa for the particle I think. Like if you saw Kon'nichiwa written in hiragana it would look like this 「こんにちわ」 And わ is used as wa not は.
Hope this helps.

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mmmason8967
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby mmmason8967 » January 27th, 2015 10:43 pm

rayman.the.one.and.only1 wrote:Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I know は (Ha) is ONLY pronounced "Wa" when used as a sentence particle marking the topic of a sentence. For example If I were to say "Watashi WA (は)HAna (はな) desu" 「わたしははなです」 "My name is hana" The name Hana would NOT be pronounced Wana. The hirgana for は is only used as wa for the particle I think.

That's right: there are two particles that are written with different characters to what you'd expect. Wa, which is written with the は (ha) character and e is written with the へ (he) character. You'll perhaps notice they're both from the h row of the kana table, and in the old days the kana in the h row had more than one pronunciation (a bit like c in English being either an s sound or a k sound). Back in those days the particle wa was always written with は and the particle e was written with へ; when Japanese spelling was reformed in the late 1940s, the use of は for the particle wa and へ for the particle e was retained because they were so well established.

Like if you saw Kon'nichiwa written in hiragana it would look like this 「こんにちわ」 And わ is used as wa not は.
Hope this helps.

This is wrong, I'm afraid. Konnichiwa is こんにちは, with a は at then end, not a わ. The reason is that it's actually the start of a sentence, so it's こんにち followed by the particle は. What the rest of the sentence might have been is lost in the mists of time, at least as far as I know. It could even be a question--"how's your day going?"

マイケル

rayman.the.one.and.only1_498570
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby rayman.the.one.and.only1_498570 » January 29th, 2015 3:21 am

That's interesting, I didn't know that last part. :)

community.japanese
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby community.japanese » January 29th, 2015 5:59 am

Aki_no_Kage san, rayman.the.one.and.only1 san,
Konnichiwa. こんにちは。
I think マイケルさん explained that clearly.

マイケルさん、
いつもながら、素晴らしい回答ですね。
どうもありがとうございます。

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acristianedalva_499684
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby acristianedalva_499684 » February 24th, 2015 4:06 pm

That's right: there are two particles that are written with different characters to what you'd expect. Wa, which is written with the は (ha) character and e is written with the へ (he) character. You'll perhaps notice they're both from the h row of the kana table, and in the old days the kana in the h row had more than one pronunciation (a bit like c in English being either an s sound or a k sound). Back in those days the particle wa was always written with は and the particle e was written with へ; when Japanese spelling was reformed in the late 1940s, the use of は for the particle wa and へ for the particle e was retained because they were so well established.


ありがとう ございます!!!! I've had this doubt for ages! Thank you ;) :flower:

community.japanese
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby community.japanese » February 25th, 2015 10:56 am

acristianedalva san,
Konnichiwa.
That’s great you understand clearly.

Yuki 由紀
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hoppingyop_517283
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby hoppingyop_517283 » July 15th, 2017 1:18 pm

Hello,

So based on all the posts here it seems to me that you can't predict when は is going to sound like wa or ha or when へ is going to sound like he or e? If I'm wrong please explain a little more because I didn't understand then.

Thanks,

Joe

thegooseking
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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby thegooseking » July 19th, 2017 12:42 pm

Joe-san,

No, it's quite predictable. The topic marker は is pronounced wa; all other instances of は are pronounced ha. The direction marker へ is pronounced e; all other instances of へ are pronounced he.

So basically you just have to think of grammar particles as exceptions. を is another exception, although it's slightly different - it's simply only ever used as a particle; never in a word's spelling (the katakana version ヲ is sometimes used to spell katakana words, but I think even that's quite rare, and normally オ or ウォ is preferred).

小狼

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Re: Why and when does は sound like "wa" instead of "ha"?

Postby community.japanese » July 31st, 2017 1:59 am

小狼さん、
こんにちは。
説明をどうもありがとうございます。

Joe san,
Konnichiwa.
What 小狼 san said is right.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask us again.
:)
Yuki 由紀
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