This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in Japanese. (September 2011) Click [show] for important translation instructions.
View a machine-translated version of the Japanese article.
Google's machine translation is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia.
Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article.
It is presumed that ゑ represented [we] (listen) and that ゑ and え indicated different pronunciations until somewhere between the Kamakura period and the Taishō period when they both came to be pronounced as イェ [je] (listen), later shifting to the modern エ [e]. Along with the kana for wi (ゐ in hiragana, ヰ in katakana), this kana was deemed obsolete in Japanese in 1946, and replaced with え and エ. It is now rare in everyday usage; in onomatopoeia or foreign words, the katakana form ウェ (U-[small-e]) is preferred, as in "ウェスト" for "west".
The kana still sees some modern-day usage. Ebisu is usually written "えびす", but sometimes "ゑびす" like Kyōto Ebisu Shrine (京都ゑびす神社,Kyōto Ebisu Jinja?), and name of the beer Yebisu(ヱビス?), which is actually pronounced "Ebisu". The Japanese title of the Rebuild of Evangelion series is Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition(ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版,Evangerion Shin Gekijōban?). Katakana ヱ is sometimes written with a dakuten, ヹ, to represent a /ve/ sound in foreign words; however, most IMEs lack a convenient way to write this and the combination ヴェ is far more common.
Hiragana ゑ is still used in several Okinawan orthographies for the syllable /we/. In the Ryukyu University system, ゑ is also combined with a small ぃ, ゑぃ/ヱィ, to represent the sound /wi/. Katakana ヱ is used in Ainu for /we/.