Line wrapping in Japanese

So in English and other languages with clear spacing between words, line wrapping text is easy. We also have hyphenation.

Are there rules for Japanese? I have several anki decks with sentences that wrap, and often it will wrap mid-word, which I find unpleasant. This might be my western bias showing, or maybe as a learner who is still sometimes vague where the breaks really are, find the result more difficult. I’m not sure.

In any case, I wondered if there are rules for this, or Japanese just breaks wherever it fills a line. This could be the case, since all characters are the same width/height, line justification might be more important to the Japanese reader.

Clue me in?

Thanks!

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In the light novel that I’m reading right now, it wraps when it gets to the end of the page, no matter where in the word it is. Including in the midst of okurigana. I agree that can be pretty annoying, but you get used to it. :slight_smile:

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I can’t really say much towards anything but manga, but in most of the manga I’ve read, you will see that they usually try to prevent wrapping of words/set expressions. So you will often see speech bubbles with a mix of longer and shorter lines, but obviously that isn’t always possible. So in those cases it seems that if, say, an expression contains a particle it will be split at the particle or if it’s like a ている construction the line will end on the て and the いる (or the conjugated version being used) starts at the top of the next line.

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I indeed feel like it happens less in manga.

I had my book next to me, and I opened a random page. At one brief glance, I already saw 来られた with れた on the next line, and みんな with な on the next line.

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Yeah, manga is probably a special case, since lines are of variable length due to fitting in amongst artwork. I’ve seen that in my reading. But I don’t do much reading of text-primary sources yet. In cases where the text is primary, like @Omun’s light novel or a newspaper/magazine, the formatting might be different, I imagine.

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That seems kind of brutal at least from a learner’s perspective trying to scan text.

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I found it a bit off-putting at first, but I’m a hundred pages into the book now, and it stopped being a problem pretty quickly, luckily.

Now it’s just vocab that’s pushing me down and taking my lunch money. :joy:

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I’m looking at this image from an Asahi Shimbun scan:

http://a2011.kiosko.net/05/04/jp/asahi_shimbun.750.jpg

And it seems to follow generally the manga way. I did just a quick scan but I often see a similar splitting of particles at the bottom of a line and て+ forms also having the て being at the bottom (obviously not 100% but still seems to be split along those general lines).

You get used to it for the most part. Every book I’ve read just overflows text onto the next line or page. It never breaks artificially or adds hyphens or anything like that.

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Yeah, I’m sure. I guess you just get spoiled with manga and it almost seems like the same crutch of texts that artificially insert spaces to help guide reading.

At some point, I envision trying out a light novel and I expect it won’t take too long to adapt. I expect to be more concerned with all the words I won’t know. :sweat_smile: :rofl:

Yeah, my experience as well is that when it comes to books it’s complete anarchy and they’ll just end the page in the middle of a word no problem.

I feel that it’s kind of one of those cute quirks of the language though! :wink:

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I have wondered about this for a long time so thanks for asking!

I have a book of Japanese stories that have the English on the left page and the Japanese on the right page. The Japanese line of text will break where the English line naturally does. I’m sure that’s because it’s for learning Japanese but I think it’s going to get me into trouble later on when I try to read a Japanese language novel.

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When children write in school, they do learn some rules about when and how to line break. It’s not completely willy nilly. Like, you can’t put punctuation in the first space of a new line. I believe small つ is also not allowed to start a line.

That’s just writing by hand though. Not sure if it follows for other stuff.

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I’ll just copy something I’ve written before on this subject:

And once again (so it embeds) here’s that image:

(and the key that goes with it)
Correct use of genkō yōshi (400 square sheet shown):

  1. Title on the 1st column, first character in the 4th square.
  2. Author’s name on the 2nd column, with 1 square between the family name and the given name, and 1 empty square below.
  3. First sentence of the essay begins on the 3rd column, in the 2nd square. Each new paragraph begins on the 2nd square.
  4. Subheadings have 1 empty column before and after, and begin on the 3rd square of a new column.
  5. Punctuation marks normally occupy their own square, except when they will occur at the top of a column, in which case they share a square with the last character of the previous column.
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Are they also not allowed to end lines with っ?

Why wouldn’t you be allowed to do that?

I thought what Leebo said about っ might apply in both cases. I have no idea if it does.

Start/end of a line doesn’t mean start/end of a sentence. Regardless, I was scanning through a book after seeing Leebo’s post. There were several instances of っ at the end of a line, but only one at the beginning. That one at the beginning was the quoting particle って, which is an unsurprising exception to the rule Leebo mentioned.

I wonder though, what do they do when the っ would naturally end up at the start of the next line? Now that I think of it, I’ve seen a couple times where a 。 in the middle of a sentence seemed like it wasn’t properly full width. I wonder if that gives them enough room to squeeze a っ in at the end of the same line. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

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Oh my mistake, I meant lines not sentences.

Thanks for clearing that up for me!

I would assume they just leave space and push the word into the next line.

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That’s possible as well of course. I just can’t recall ever seeing a line that seemed to end a character short without being the end of a paragraph. Maybe I’ll notice it now that this has been brought up though.

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