Ruby annotations coming soon

As a result of a request of mine, WordPress.com now supports ruby annotations. Ruby annotations are usually used in the form of furigana, where the reading in hiragana is written on top of the kanji like this: (かん)().

You’re not restricted in the content that you can put in the annotations, so I could just as easily use the rōmaji reading instead: (kan)(ji). Similarly, you’re not restricted in the base text, so I could even do this: ka()n()ji().

All modern browsers should support ruby annotations natively, but for any browsers that don’t, (かん)() will show up as 漢(かん)字(じ).

The downside to using ruby annotations is that the text is no longer searchable. If you do a search on this page for 漢字, you’ll see that only the instances in this paragraph are matched. This particular 漢字(かんじ) is matched because the annotation かんじ as a whole is applied to 漢字 as a whole, but in the others, the annotation was applied per character, breaking up the word; if your browser didn’t support ruby annotations, it would render as 漢字(かんじ). This isn’t much of a problem for kanji compounds like that if I use the grouped base technique (although you lose the per-character reading), it is for words like ()()() where there is hiragana inside the word. Using a grouped base isn’t really an option unless I use a rōmaji gloss because the embedded hiragana is usually not included when using furigana.

It would be too much work to annotate everything and not desirable because it would break searching, so I was thinking that I would only do it in articles about the Japanese language (like the one on rendaku) and possibly also in the title translations that appear at the beginning of each song post. I’m also inclined to keep the rōmaji / ローマ字 format, so it would look like this if I were to use ruby annotations: rōmaji / ローマ().

What do you think? Do you think it’ll be useful? Should I do this differently? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Yes, I still need to make that post on kana.


If you’re interested in seeing ruby annotations everywhere, you can use the Furigana Inserter add-on for Firefox or the IPA Furigana extension for Chrome. I can’t speak for IPA Furigana because I don’t use Chrome, but I use Furigana Inserter myself and it works very well. These extensions will add furigana on top of any kanji in the page, with the option to display in either hiragana, katakana, or rōmaji. IPA Furigana unfortunately does not have this feature, but Furigana Inserter can also add annotations to just the selected text. If you know your kana or are learning kana, this is a great resource to have.

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