Sometimes, I find myself wanting to cite a Japanese text as evidence for an answer to a question on Anime.SE. Japanese sometimes includes phonetic annotations called furigana, which look like this:

Example of furigana

The small characters in the upper line of text are phonetic annotations that explain how the characters in the main (lower) line of text are read.

In order to faithfully reproduce Japanese text, furigana are often necessary. This is particularly important for anime-related media (light novels, in particular), which frequently use completely nonstandard "phonetic" readings for various kanji (cf. 禁書目録 as インデックス in "A Certain Magical Index").

Japanese.SE already supports furigana in markdown. The example above (taken from Japanese.SE) was generated using the following markdown:

元始{はじめ}に神{かみ} 天地{てんち}を創造{つくり}たまへり

It's possible to do this in raw HTML using <ruby> and its friends, but that gets to be kind of verbose and a pain to type out by hand each time. Can we get support for the {} Markdown shorthand here, too?

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  • Great suggestion. We'll pass it up. – Madara's Ghost Aug 16 '13 at 15:25

This site should now have the same functionality as Japanese SE.

It's supported both on the main site and on meta, but not in comments.

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This is a very good addition, but we should be careful about overusing it. Keep in mind that lots of users here can't read any Japanese, including Hiragana/Katakana. Using furigana is not a substitute for including a translation, and in cases where the pronunciation is important, a romanization of the text as well. Furigana are very helpful for a minority of users in a minority of situations.

I think most people would find them most useful when the reading of a word is important and the intended reading is not the most common reading. For instance, from the example posted, 元始 is usually read as げんし, so the reading as はじめ is not obvious. Similarly, 創造 would normally be read as そうぞう, so including the furigana here is helpful. However, the readings of 神 and 天地 are the most common ones and would be recognizable for most users here who know any Japanese. If the person doesn't know these, what they should do is look them up in a dictionary, not look at furigana and try to guess the meaning of the word. If you use furigana it basically forces everyone to read the tiny text in case it's supposed to be read differently, and for most users here who are able to read the Japanese text it's a nuisance for two of those four words.

With that in mind, I think we should agree to use this sparingly. My criterion would be that if it's useful for someone who is fluent in Japanese, we can include it, but if it's only useful for those learning Japanese then don't include it. So if, for example, a light novel uses a nonstandard reading and you want to quote it (e.g. the example posted 禁書目録), go ahead, but don't add it to kanji that would be read correctly by those who are already familiar with the characters. Our goal isn't to teach people Japanese here; it's to have questions and answers about anime.

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    Agreed. I think the primary use of furigana here will be to accurately quote Japanese passages that are accompanied by a translation, so that Japanese-speaking users who subsequently read the passage can evaluate it for themselves, and possibly edit the translation as necessary. (FWIW the reason this came up is that I'm formulating an answer to the bountied Accelerator question, and part of it involves looking at the word 向き{ベクトル}, which would be nice to represent correctly, for fidelity's sake.) – senshin Aug 16 '13 at 18:01
  • Yes, that would be a good example where it would be helpful to have the furigana, since basically no one would read it correctly without it. – Logan M Aug 16 '13 at 18:07

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