Will the japanese language ever develop more kana like ん?

Please hear me out.
Pretty standard, right? It’s the いろは poem. I took it directly from wikipedia. Now, do you notice the abscense of a certain kana?
Let me make this obvious.

Some time in the past, 常ならん Used to be pronounced つねならむ.
Is that “vowel after consonant simply because that’s how japanese works” familiar? Perhaps, akin to words like キットカット or マクドナルド?

Like come on, even the most basic verb of the japanese language, です, is actually DES in most informal situations.

My question is: if “HMMM” evolved into its own special kana, will the japanese language ever have a kana for K, T, or most prominently S?

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ん didn’t get invented to replace that む though, it absorbed it. There already was an ん sound and the ん hiragana has existed for like 1000+ years.

I don’t anticipate new kana any time soon.


But I read on wikipedia that the ん sound didn’t exist back when kanji were being first (and second? idk but first time for sure) imported and that’s why 東京 isn’t pronounced とんきょん ;-;

Is that wrong? Did they not develop that sound?
Also like, if ん has existed for so long, why is it not in the poem? :frowning:

いろは has also existed for 1000+ years. :stuck_out_tongue:

But yeah, ん existed when いろは was written, though it wasn’t given its own seat at the table until the Muromachi Period, 1336 to 1573.


Wouldn’t you have expected とむきょむ or something then if it was going to be む? My understanding is that a lot of different things that existed in classical grammar got abbreviated to ん eventually.

Like… the suggestion isn’t that things like むかし actually sounded like んかし long ago, right? The む got shortened I thought. When used as a volitional.

I guess I’ll take back what I said in the sense that I don’t know the history that well, but I have never been able to get specific dates for any of the writing developments, they’re always given in broad date ranges. Like “developed in the Heian period”… okay, well some time over a range of 400 years.

But I still don’t anticipate new kana being developed after all this time.


Like… the suggestion isn’t that things like むかし actually sounded like んかし long ago, right?

Haha, no!

The む got shortened I thought. When used as a volitional.

Yeah it did. And I was wondering if す could get shortened too.

But I still don’t anticipate new kana being developed after all this time.

:bug: :+1: Fair enough
But I’m still rooting for it :duck:

If anything, Japanese continues to show a trend of getting rid of kana. You rarely see ゐ (wi) or ゑ (we) despite the increasing usage of ウィ and ウェ in loanwords.

There’s also evidence from the Manyoushu that there used to be two sounds for each modern day kana, but today, the difference between them has faded. You can also see it happening for kana like づ and ず as well, depending on the region. I doubt those particular kana will be assimilated into each other in writing anytime soon though because of writing standards, but after our lifetimes, I think it’s a possibility.

As for the u being dropped from く and す, you still hear it clearly pronounced in more formal situations and also just depending on the speaker. For example, I have a coworker who speaks in a feminine and cutesy way and she almost always says desu and not des.


I don’t want to live to see a day where 月月 is furigana’d as つきずき instead of つきづき


ひらがな… 2


Here is the official answer from the Emperor of Japan: “Yes, we are going to consider adding a kana for S, as soon as the English language add the letter ŋ to replace ng.”

His Majesty has spoken.


If we want more kana, maybe it’s time to bring back the ゟ digraph. That’s より as a single kana. :slightly_smiling_face:

And then there’s 〼, used for the ます polite ending because it looks like a 升 drinking cup.


Speaking of combining characters, I often accidentally combine kanji or kana when writing quickly. Who knows, maybe someone higher in hierarchy in Japan does the same and they will fancy their creation enough to push forward a language reform :p. Or I become a Japanese politician sooner!


I saw ゐ in the artist name 羽生まゐご a few weeks ago, I think it’s actually the first time I’ve seen it since learning about the existence of old kana years ago


I’ve only ever seen it in old names. That artist might’ve picked it as a way to stand out. I wonder how many native speakers know how to type it though lol


I don’t get it
What’s that?

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Wonder if the shi sounds will ever become sh but in a different kana


It’s the IPA symbol for the “ng” sound.


Of course, even though ます is often pronounced “mas”, if you listen to polite speech, it is also often pronounced “masu”.

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