Dakuten and handakuten – Japanese quotes

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Do you know what it is (濁点) Dakuten? You probably use them every day, and never knew the name. Dakuten or Tenten are the 2 quotation marks that indicate that a hiragana pronounces with another voice. There is also the Handakuten (半濁点) which is a small circle that indicates that the syllable starting with H will be replaced by P.

The introduction of handakuten came thanks to Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century who were confused to see that the Japanese did not use anything to identify a syllable change. Thanks to Dakuten and Handakuten, Japanese has become much simpler and more practical:


The table below shows all possible exchanges using the Dakuten it's the Handakuten.

kana dakuten handakuten
ok ga (か゚ nga)
sa za
OK da
there is ba shovel


Both are positioned in the upper right corner of a Japanese kana character:

dakuten: □゛        handakuten: □゜

the sound of V

In katakana, dakuten can be used on the character ウ (u) together with a small vowel kana to make the V sound. For example: ヴァ va. As the letter “V” does not exist in Japanese, this usage is only for foreign words, nowadays it is common to use B in place of V in foreign words with V.

Mysterious Dakuten ま゛, い゛, な゛

Amazingly, you might end up finding these quotes in some unusual kana, which don't make any sense. See an example in the image below:


Why does it happen? Dakuten are also used for any kind of distorted sounds. Which includes the following:

  • To cry
  • Shout out
  • hurt the mouth
  • very sleepy
  • be drinking
  • have a very strong accent

What is the sound pronounced in ま゛, い゛, な? The pronunciation remains the same as the original kana, they appear on top of these kana just to cause a distorted sound effect that the person is speaking. What do you think about this?

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