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In Japan I often have to call somewhere and explain my name such that the person on the other end can write it down. My name is "Sepponen Bemmu", which I want them to write down as "セッポネン・ベンム".

Is there a way to "spell" katakana verbally?

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+1 Interesting question. For all the mora I can just simply read it out except for っ/ッ. I wonder what happens when I want to "spell" a gemination... –  Flaw Jan 16 '12 at 5:25

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Generally you just read out the individual kana, and for little-tsu you can say 小さい「つ」. If you want to specify it's katakana, you can say かたかなで、、、.

If there is some confusion you can say the "group" of kana it's in, then say then whatever one it is specifically. So for you would say か、き、く、け、こ、の「か」. With any luck that is how you learned them, so it shouldn't be too hard to get the hang of.

For separating your first and last names I'm not sure if the person you're speaking with will realize they're separate, so you would add in そうして, or something similar, in between.

So, if you wanted to spell your name it would be something along the lines of this:

かたかなで、セ、 小さいツ、 ポ、 ネ、 ン、 そうして ベ、 ン、 ム

At least, that is how I would do it.

I realize it's a bit difficult to understand without hearing it, but hopefully I explained myself clearly...

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Just thought of this last night as it's relevant to my name... Could you add how to "pronounce" the ー? –  atlantiza Jan 17 '12 at 17:21
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@atlantiza I was thinking about that too...I'm much less confident on this account, but I'm pretty sure it's something along the lines of のびる or のばす....saying you're stretching it out. 「ザ、伸びして」 If it were in hiragana you would just double the vowel sound, making it two clear sounds...so it would probably be understood that way too. 「ザ、ア」 –  silvermaple Jan 17 '12 at 17:36
    
I answered that from my own personal experiences, but apparently that thingy has a name, 長音符{ちょうおんぷ}, but I couldn't tell you if that's what you'd say when spelling something out. Here's the Wikipedia article on it: ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%95%B7%E9%9F%B3%E7%AC%A6 –  silvermaple Jan 17 '12 at 17:42

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