What is the "kwa" in "kwaidan"?

The "kwa" in Lafcadio Hearn's book "Kwaidan" is based on the historical spelling くわいだん (kuwaidan) for the word kaidan (怪談), "ghost story". This was romanized by Hearn as "kwa". See What is historical kana usage? for more about historical spellings.

In other older texts, variant romanizations which are now no longer used are sometimes seen. Some words romanized in this way have survived to the present day. For example, "io" was sometimes used to represent the yōon sound, hence Tokyo becomes "Tokio" and Kyoto becomes "Kioto". This romanization can still be seen in the species name "mioga" of the Japanese vegetable myōga (a ginger-like root plant). See What is ? for more about yōon.

The ''z'' consonant was romanized as ''dz''. This romanization survives in the plant names "adzuki" and "kudzu". Also, a ''y'' was added to the vowel ''e'', as in "yen" or "Inouye". See Where does the word yen come from?

In some systems of romanization, the ぢ kana may be romanized as "di", as can be seen in the name of the ice-cream company "Meidi-ya", which is pronounced "Meiji-ya". See What are the systems of romanization of Japanese? for more about the various systems of romanization.

Other non-standard forms used to indicate Japanese pronunciation include adding an "h" after a vowel, as in "Noh plays" or "bokeh" (a photographic term, see What does mean?), or the use of an acute accent as in saké or Pokémon to indicate that an e is not part of an English vowel + consonant + e construction but should be pronounced by itself. See also What English words come from Japanese? for more English words which come from Japanese.


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