I phrased this question's title as "Why has を been spared but ゐ and ゑ been deemed obsolete?"

Blunter ways of phrasing it would be "Why wasn't を deemed obsolete along with ゐ and ゑ?", or even "Why isn't を obsolete?".

(Personally speaking, I like the character を, but I don't currently think it makes sense that Japanese has it. Then again, many things in Japanese that appear not to make sense make sense after it's been explained properly)

Am I going over-the-top in avoiding offense? Is it ok to be blunt so long as I'm asking a question rather than saying "X sucks, right?". Or do nihon-jin take offense at criticism or perceived criticism of nihon-go?

  • 2
    I am not Japanese but that wording doesn't seem offensive to me honestly.
    – Alenanno
    Dec 30, 2011 at 17:15

3 Answers 3


I would say that you should avoid phrasing questions in a way that sounds negative or critical in general, not just towards Japanese language in particular. This makes it an approachable and non-argumentative. For example, the way you phrased it, "Why has を been spared but ゐ and ゑ been deemed obsolete?", feels much more like an honest question, as opposed to "Why isn't を obsolete?", where I get the feeling that any answer might ignite an argument. It's off-putting to read negative or critical questions, and we should definitely try to avoid that.


Well, the point is, why do you post a question?

Presumably, you post a question because you want to know the answer to something which you wonder about. If so, it is usually wise to stick to as neutral tone as you can, just because doing so is likely to maximize the probability that you receive useful answers. Ultimately, it is simply the most effective way to achieve what you want.

If you post a question to criticize something about Japanese, then there is nothing I can say. Personally I do not see any point of criticizing facts about a language (or about anything else) when there is no possibility of changing those facts.


I think your linked question is alright. There are many seemingly irregularities and irrational things in any language, and pointing them out or thinking for a reason is not a problem at all. In fact, that is the first step towards scientific study of a language. In some cases, it turns out that they are not irregularities but the result of hidden regularities. In other cases, it turns out that they are indeed irregularities due to historical accident or peoples' misunderstandings or inconsistency.

  • I understand your frustration but, you know, it is understandably difficult for most people (including me) to examine their mother tongue objectively. Dec 28, 2011 at 10:09
  • @sawa. But being very familiar with one's native tongue does not mean that one has the necessary tools of analysis to deconstruct them to find equivalence between languages. I think it is perfectly acceptable for "ignorant" questions to be asked. In fact, that is why questions are being asked; to transition away from ignorance. We should not focus on their being ignorant but instead applaud them for bravely asking questions.
    – Flaw Mod
    Dec 28, 2011 at 10:56
  • TsuyoshiIto and Flaw, I understand what you say. I think it is a matter of degree. There is some point that devides brave questions and other questions.
    – user458
    Dec 28, 2011 at 11:24
  • I do not know what you mean by “brave questions.” Dec 28, 2011 at 14:39
  • @TsuyoshiIto I just borrowed Flaw's words. I should have wrote "reasonable questions".
    – user458
    Dec 28, 2011 at 19:32
  • Oh, I see, thanks. I should have read Flaw’s comment before commenting. Dec 28, 2011 at 23:41

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