10 Answers 10

Symbols for Marking Example Sentences

There is a standard format used in Japanese textbooks for marking the acceptability of example sentences. Feel free to use these, or alternatively label unacceptable examples explicitly.

  • ○ (U+25CB): correct (converts with まる in Windows IME)
  • △ (U+25B3): sometimes correct (converts with さんかく in Windows IME)
  • ? (U+FF1F): questionable (full-width question mark)
  • × (U+00D7): incorrect (converts with ばつ in Windows IME)

These usually appear directly before the first word of the sentence, and are generally only used for sentence examples isolated from any larger contextual text.

Linguists use an alternate set of symbols, and you'll find these on Japanese.SE as well:

  • *  Ungrammatical
  • ?  Of questionable grammaticality
  • #  Infelicitous (semantically or pragmatically anomalous)
  • % Grammatical in some dialect(s) only
  • !   Non-standard

If you use symbols like these, it helps to explain in your post how you're using them so people don't get confused. Sometimes these symbols will be combined or repeated, such as in ?? "very questionable". Note that in historical linguistics, the * has another meaning: it indicates that a form is unattested (usually a hypothetical reconstruction), not ungrammatical.

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Furigana support

You can add furigana to your questions and answers! If you want to get 感じる【かんじる】, you can type in any of the following:

  感じる​{かんじる}    感​{かん}じる
  感じる​【かんじる】   感​【かん】じる

Sometimes the furigana will end up over the wrong kanji. If that happens, you can use [] to tell it which kanji the furigana are for.

To get 飛【と】び越【こ】える, you can type any of the following:

  [飛び越える]​{とびこえる}     飛​{と}び越​{こ}える
  [飛び越える]​【とびこえる】    飛​【と】び越​【こ】える

The style on the left has two advantages:

  1. It's easier to read on the mobile site (furigana isn't enabled yet on the mobile site).
  2. Keeping words together, like on the left, helps people find your posts on Google.

So we'd like to encourage people to use the left style.


When should I use furigana?

If a given word is not particularly common, or if the reading is ambiguous, please add furigana to it. As a rule of thumb, please add furigana if you yourself would need a dictionary to read a given word.

Adding furigana to every word is appropriate when writing answers for beginners. If you use a word more than once, you don't need to add furigana every time―just the first will do.

Other users may edit your work to add furigana, particularly in the cases outlined above. Please don't take offense! These users are just trying to make the site more accessible for lower level users.


Furigana options

On the bottom of every page, you can find a 'furigana options' link, which brings up this menu:

furigana options screen shot

If you choose the top-most option, you'll still be able to see the text people enter in curly braces. Instead of appearing as furigana, it'll appear the way they entered it.

You can also choose to hide furigana, instead showing it when you move your mouse over a kanji. If you do this, kanji which have readings available will be underlined with dotted lines. And you can even disable furigana entirely―but remember that furigana can be used for unusual or idiosyncratic readings, so even if you're literate in Japanese, you may not want to hide or disable ruby text.

The font setting here applies everywhere, not just in furigana rendering. If you're having font troubles, try selecting a specific font from this menu.


Preventing furigana rendering

If you need to prevent the system from rendering something as furigana, put a zero-width space before the furigana block. You can do this by writing ​. For example, if you type this:

  感じる​【かんじる】

It will render like this, with furigana disabled:

  感じる​【かんじる】

This is useful if you need to ask about the furigana system on meta.

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Linking to Japanese URLs

If you insert URLs with unescaped Japanese characters directly into your posts, you might end up with broken links. That's because Markdown doesn't understand Japanese characters.

The easiest solution is to use the link button on the edit screen:

Picture of link button

Using this button will automatically escape the Japanese characters, making your links work.

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Questions in Japanese

Questions can be in all-Japanese or all-English, or a mixture of both

If you have sufficient ability with Japanese to ask a question entirely in the language, feel free to do so. If you are able, an English translation would also be helpful to less advanced users of the site.

An all-Japanese question will probably be edited by other users to include an English translation, but the original should be left untouched unless there are errors in the Japanese (the same as any other question).

Answers will probably be given in both English and Japanese.

Discussion

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Pitch Accent

Our furigana system has been updated to show pitch accent! It's easy. Just type this in:

ありがとう​{LHLLL}

And it turns into this:

ありがとう{LHLLL}

L stands for low, and H stands for high. Thanks to @cypher for implementing this idea!

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Romaji

Romaji is allowed, but we do prefer to work with kana/kanji.

It isn't against any rules to write questions or answers using only romaji, but most of us do prefer kana and kanji. Part of the reason for this is the wide variety of romanization systems, which can introduce ambiguity into the question or answer.

If you ask your question in all romaji, please do not take offense if other users edit your work to convert it to kana and kanji.

Here's an early discussion on meta.

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Font support for IPA transcriptions

If you enter IPA transcriptions in [[double brackets]] or //double slashes//, the system will render them like this:

[[single brackets]]
//single slashes//

When you do this, the system uses a special list of fonts which is hopefully more appropriate for IPA transcriptions. In particular, this should avoid problems with combining characters rendering incorrectly on some systems; see our earlier discussion.

For more information about the IPA, see International Phonetic Alphabet on Wikipedia.

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Emphasizing Japanese text

You can use Markdown for bold and italics like on any Stack Exchange site, but italics aren't quite as common in Japanese as in English. There are a few alternatives for emphasizing Japanese text:

  • Dots: 文字を[強調]{﹅・﹅}する       ← Type 文字を[強調]​{﹅・﹅}する
  • Overline: 文字を[強調]{HH}する      ← Type 文字を[強調]​{HH}する
  • Underline: 文字を[強調]{LL}する       ← Type 文字を[強調]​{LL}する
  • Bold: 文字を強調する       ← Type 文字を**強調**する

As you can see, the dots and line syntax are special uses of the Furigana engine we have here.

If bold or italics ever seem to fail, you can use <b> and <i> tags as a workaround, but for now we believe the problems are fixed―if you find any bugs, please bring them up on Meta!

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Quoting Japanese Text

We tend to use two different mechanisms for 'quoting' bits of Japanese in the middle of English text. The first is the backtick format for inline Japanese.

For larger sections of example text, we prefer to use the block-quote syntax over the pre-formatted text. One reason for this is that text, unlike code, usually can line-wrap freely, and the formatting is not nearly as important as the content. It's also somewhat easier to work with. This entire section was block quoted by using a single '>'.

In general, using > blockquotes is preferred for English text, unless you have a specific reason to want things to line up vertically.

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Use-mention distinction

Linguists make a distinction between using and mentioning a word:

Use: Snails are cute.

Mention: Snails is the plural form of snail.

The first sentence is about snails, while the second sentence is about the word snail. In English, this is usually indicated with italics, but "quotes" are also possible.


Use-mention distinction in Japanese

In Japanese, mention is often indicated with quotes or katakana or both:

可能表現の対象格標示「ガ」と「ヲ」の交替

In this example, the author is clearly talking about the particles ガ and ヲ. They've made it clear that they're mentioning the particles rather than using them. If you're writing an answer in Japanese, you can do something similar.

Here on Japanese.SE, when mentioning Japanese words in the middle of English text, we sometimes indicate this distinction with the `backtick` Markdown syntax. (This is used for code on other Stack Exchange sites.) For example, when talking about the particle in English, we'll often write rather than just は. For longer inline quotes, using Japanese quotation marks 「」 is also possible.

See Quoting Japanese Text for more discussion.

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