Why is は pronounced as 'wa' when the romanized version says 'ha'?

June 7, 2018


This only happens when it is used as a particle (i.e. to mark the topic of the sentence). E.g. はじめまして would be pronounced hajimemashite and not as wajimemashite.

From what I have managed to find this is related due to changes in phonetics over time. Here is a more detailed answer I found on stackexchange

June 7, 2018

Old Japanese orthography was messy, and was very confusing.

However, some remnants of that system still linger today. One of them is は, while pronounced as /ha/, when it was used in particles, it was/is pronounced /wa/.

Some thing with へ, which was pronounced /e/ when used as a particle, but is usually pronounced /he/.

And the particle を, while spelled /wo/, is only pronounced as /o/. There are two other characters that made this same transition, ゐ & ゑ, both of witch were /wi/ and /we/. The /w/ dissappeared from all three sounds. So ゐ & ゑ were both dropped, but を remained as a particle.

June 7, 2018

I think what the poster is attempting to ask is during the hiragana exercises the は character is pronounced /wa/ when it should be /ha/. は is pronounced as /wa/ when used as a particle which is not the case in the hiragana exercises.

June 7, 2018

は is pronounced as "wa" when used as a sentence particle. It's pronounced "ha" when used in a word instead

June 7, 2018

Adding on to everyone else's comments, は will also be pronounced as "wa" in a couple of instances. For example, こんにちは, which, as I'm sure you know, is pronounced "konnichiwa", not "konnichiha" (there are reasons for this that I've forgotten and can't articulate).

When the course first launched, it was always pronouncing は as "ha". I believe they switched it because it is such a common particle that it was probably far more detrimental to learning to always hear "ha" incorrectly. So, not a perfect solution, but arguably much better. I hope this answers your question. :)

June 8, 2018

は can be used both ways. when you pronounce it as 'wa' it is a particle (which marks the topic/verb/etc of the sentence) for example, 私は人です (watashi WA hito desu, or 'i am a person') as opposed to おはよう、はるか (oHAyou, HAruka, or 'good morning, haruka). i hope that helps :)

June 7, 2018

Do you mean something is written like "Watashiha hanashimashita", instead of "Watashiwa hanashimashita"?

I don't know but may be it's because if you keep reading the Romaji as it should sound, you will never learn particles and end up writing like 私わ話しました。

June 9, 2018

its is romanized as wa only when it is placed as a particle e.g. watashi wa, it is a particle here. (sorry havent figured out how to put hiragana on my keyboard yet!)

June 12, 2018
Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.