That form of the Japanese kana syllabary which is not cursive and is most commonly used for (but not restricted to) writing words borrowed from other languages.

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32
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10answers
2k views

When is the katakana form of wo (ヲ) used?

I'm pretty new to Japanese, and I've been trying to learn hiragana and katakana. I know that in hiragana, wo (を) is used only for as an object particle, and it is always pronounced like o (お). This ...
23
votes
5answers
6k views

Why are katakana preferred over hiragana or kanji sometimes?

I noticed that "dame", which means "not good" or "don't do that", is sometimes written in manga as katakana. I was wondering, is it because katakana is used to express a strong feeling? Sometimes, ...
19
votes
4answers
7k views

Why was both katakana and hiragana created?

Nowadays, katakana tends to be used for gairaigo and onomatopoeia, while hiragana tends to be used for native Japanese words. This is a slight simplification - more information is available here. ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Who decides what katakana will be used to form English loan words?

I love katakana, mostly because of how the characters look. But I am constantly baffled by why certain loan words from English are constructed using certain katakana sounds. For example, if someone ...
13
votes
1answer
209 views

Spelling over the phone

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 ...
12
votes
2answers
493 views

Pronunciation and meaning of  [closed]

I just received an email ending like this: 是非是非また誘って How to read the  ? Zero results on Google. As for the meaning, is it equivalent to よ ?
12
votes
5answers
158 views

ユーザ or ユーザー, which is more in use or is there no difference?

ユーザ or ユーザー, which is more in use or is there no difference? I see both of them in use, but is there one that is more correct than the other or is at least the prevailing standard? a similar word is ...
12
votes
4answers
494 views

What determines whether a word gets a kanji compound or katakana?

I read electronics/computing articles, and I find an incredible amount of terms are written either in kanji (almost similar to Chinese) or katakana. There are times when it's confusing as to know why. ...
10
votes
2answers
614 views

How do you write the sound “wu”?

As in "Wu Tang" or something similar. Would it be something like ウゥ? I know that "wool" is written as ウール, but 1) the "woo" sound is pronounced slightly differently than "wu", and 2) ウール doesn't ...
9
votes
7answers
3k views

Why are there 3 ways of writing in Japanese?

Why are there kanji, hiragana and katakana? Is there a logical reason behind this or just tradition?
9
votes
1answer
660 views

Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana rather than Romaji?

Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana, or is this dependent on the type or writing, and the target audience? For example, this Japanese Wikipedia entry on Steven Bradbury uses ...
9
votes
1answer
218 views

Origin of katakana ン (カタカナの「ン」の字源)

Looking on various pages, the origin of ン seems to be very confused. Most lists either don't include ン, or list one theory. So far I've found the following options: 一 爾 无 尓 二 冫 Wikipedia also ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

Are there words which consist of katakana and hiragana letters together?

Obviously many Japanese words consist of kanji characters plus hiragana since the latter are used for okurigana: 食べる 水割り 鷹の爪 Recently I'v started to discover a few words that use kanji characters ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Can I write Japanese name “Midori” this way - 緑?

There is female Japanese name "Midori," and I want to know the ways I can write it. I know it means "green," but maybe the name and "green" are different words sometimes. I used google-translator to ...
8
votes
1answer
622 views

Legal characters for first names include: hiragana, katakana, jinmeiyo and joyo kanji. What about latin letters?

Is it legal for parents to give to their child a first name with latin letters (romaji, I guess), instead of using katakana, hiragana, or kanji? For example, if Japanese parents want to give their ...
8
votes
4answers
516 views

Is the “wa-particle” in katakana ワ or ハ?

Is the "wa-particle" in katakana ワ or  ハ? (Just a quick question - I think I have seen both used, but if ワ is correct then I have just seen the results of a computer o/p automatically using ハ)
8
votes
1answer
663 views

Why is カラオケ (karaoke) written in katakana?

I noticed カラオケ (karaoke) is always written in katakana on signs/buildings in Japan, despite it being a Japanese word. Why is it not written in Kanji or Hiragana? As I understand it, the usual reasons ...
8
votes
1answer
177 views

Why does this store named サァラ have a small ァ in the name?

Over on this awesome answer about old and unused katakana forms, I notice that among the examples is the word "valve", written as ヷァルブ. It has a small ァ character in addition to the ヷ that precedes ...
7
votes
7answers
870 views

Why are the katakana important to learn?

I've just started, and everything says learn your hiragana and katakana first. The hiragana, very clear. I guess you can say an awful lot of things in Japanese with hiragana. But everything I've been ...
7
votes
2answers
460 views

Are there any risks in self-learning the kana?

I've found learning to speak Japanese in a classroom, rather than being self-taught, is useful because you get feedback on whether what you're saying sounds correct. Is the same true about learning to ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

What are the differences/characteristics between katakana, kanji and hiragana?

I know that romaji is the conversion from those to the roman alphabet, but what are the differences or characteristics between katakana, kanji, and hiragana? Are they used on a different context? Is ...
7
votes
3answers
902 views

What are the rules determining the use of the dash in katakana?

As explained in this question, a dash character is used in katakana as an extension of a sound. First, what exactly is this character called? A "nobasu mark"? Anyway, I saw this sign in Shibuya the ...
7
votes
1answer
298 views

Was the の particle sometimes written in katakana?

In "Maiko Haaaan!!!", a bridge going over Yumekawa (a fictional river in Kyoto) apparently has "夢ノ橋" written on it, rather than "夢の橋". I had two theories about why that may be the case. One was that ...
6
votes
6answers
749 views

learning order for kana?

I'm trying to use some flash cards to learn the kana (hirigana first, but both in time), and there's simply too much for me to learn at once. Is there a recommended or practiced learning "order" or ...
6
votes
2answers
270 views

Is there a generally accepted “rule” for truncating loan words?

I've noticed that sometimes loan words (usually pairs) are truncated to just the first two morae from each word: Smash Brothers ➤ スマッシュブラザーズ ➤ スマブラ "Don't mind." ➤ ドンマイ I assume this is ...
6
votes
2answers
181 views

What is the origin of ポイ as in “タバコのポイ”?

I was trying to see how much of the writing on the signs in the park I could make sense of today and found something of interest. A sign stating what not to do in the park covered not littering and ...
6
votes
1answer
235 views

Orthography at the turn of the previous century

A couple of days ago I purchased an old book published in 1908. It uses a strange orthography I haven't encountered before. Everything that is not in kanji is written in katakana, including ...
6
votes
1answer
433 views

Why does furigana occasionally appear as katakana?

I've seen some kanji whose furigana is actually katakana. For example, see the following manga cover for 桜蘭高校ホスト部. When would a kanji character ever be pronounced as a loan word?
6
votes
1answer
161 views

Why did the translator use ゴナラ here?

I've got a copy of "オ・ヤサシ巨人BFG", Taeko Nakamura's translation of the famous children's book by Roald Dahl, The BFG. The story concerns a friendship between a little girl named Sophie and a friendly ...
6
votes
1answer
342 views

Katakana words with Kanji. How did that happen?

Some words are written with katakana, but also have kanji. For example: コーヒー 珈琲 ページ 頁 How did this happen? They are loanwords, but no doubt had Japanese equivalents before these variants were ...
6
votes
1answer
170 views

What does it mean to write wasei-eigo and gairaigo in Romaji?

Wasei-eigo and most Gairaigo (especially in a text or sentence as opposed to being by itself) is usually written in Katakana (イメージ, ジュース, スマート,パンツ,アベック). However, there are times that have seen some ...
6
votes
1answer
541 views

Are the names of some food items written in katakana?

Japanese for Busy People 1 (lesson 11) mentions when talking about [キス]{kisu} (whiting) at a [てんぷらや]{tempura-ya}: NOTE: Names of fish, fruits and vegetables etc. are sometimes written in katakana. ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Difference between katakana so and n

I am having high confusion between katakana n ン and katakana so ソ. They look very similar even with the different stroke directions, they look very similar. Could anyone suggest how to differentiate ...
5
votes
2answers
382 views

How is アェ pronounced?

A video game I've been playing has the following word in it: アェウクス I'm not familiar with アェ. Does it represent a specific sound? If so, what sound? If it makes sense to do so, please include ...
5
votes
1answer
484 views

Why is マシ written using katakana?

Does マシ come from English? Or is it a semantic emphasis?
5
votes
1answer
295 views

Method for deciding whether to use katakana or kanji version of the word?

I often see words in sentences written in カタカナ or 漢字 that could be swapped for a common word of the other form. I am aware that there are lots of カタカナ words that do have a 漢字 form, but where the 漢字 ...
5
votes
2answers
347 views

Are katakana names pronounced as they are written?

My name is Laurence. I would write this in Japanese as ロレンス (rorensu). My question is, when I introduce myself, do I pronounce my name as it is in katakana, or as it is in English?: That is, would I ...
5
votes
4answers
207 views

Why do some loanword sounds get “abbreviated” when katakanized, but not others?

Not sure the best way to word this. Why is it that some sounds from a loanword get combined down to a shorter or different sound while other do not? Here are some examples: Shortened, but sound ...
5
votes
1answer
139 views

Etymology of ギリシャ: what language does “girisha” come from?

I have trouble remembering that Greece is called ギリシャ. Understanding the etymology behind would probably help me? What is the etymology of the word ギリシャ? What language(s) was the name inspired by?
5
votes
1answer
289 views

What special kana are used to write foreign words?

How does Japanese handle sounds outside the 五十音図【ごじゅうおんず】? Are there ways of distinguishing sounds such as V or L in katakana renderings of foreign words? How are the missing sounds in the ワ column ...
5
votes
1answer
515 views

Why is katakana /va/ normally written ヴァ rather than ヷ?

Even though there is a katakana character ヷ, most of the time when I see something that is transcribed into Japanese as /va/, it is in the form ヴァ (say, for example, in the title of the anime series ...
4
votes
3answers
621 views

Correct kana for foreign name

I am Portuguese, and my name is João, which has a peculiar pronunciation that is very difficult for foreign people. It is the Portuguese equivalent to the English John, but the pronunciations are very ...
4
votes
3answers
262 views

What “non-standard” katakana are commonly used?

I know about the "standard" special katakana, like ファ fa, ディ di, ヴ vu, etc. However, I keep running into others I can't find on any list, including the ones in What special kana are used to write ...
4
votes
2answers
266 views

Katakana changes

The katakana changes with time, and so recently they introduced the "v" "ヴ", and I'd like to know if there's a possibility they'll add letters like "si" "セィ" or something similar in the future? Do the ...
4
votes
1answer
176 views

What do ジャンルくじイラスト and デリケートなジャンル mean?

My circle (student club) at a Japanese university is preparing for the school festival. One option for participating is to draw and submit a 「ジャンルくじイラスト」. Does this translate to "genre lottery ...
4
votes
1answer
355 views

Is しゃぶしゃぶ typically written in hiragana rather than katakana?

Is しゃぶしゃぶ typically written in hiragana rather than katakana? If so, why is it written in hiragana? Wikipedia says that it is onomatopoeia: The term is an onomatopoeia, derived from the sound ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

What does ホイっと mean?

in a manga I was reading this expression appeared. It was about a lazy girl, who was thinking about getting herself a boyfriend (so that he can do the house chores for her), and then her friend ...
4
votes
1answer
113 views

How to know when I should use katakana form words referring to animals, lesser creatures, or other organisms?

I know many words for animals are usually written in katakana in contemporary Japanese, even though kanji exist: イルカ クマ And it seems some very common domestic animals I don't seem to notice ...
3
votes
3answers
955 views

Why doesn't Japanese have a special Katakana form for “hu”?

They have created many new Katakana words such as ファ フィ ヴァ ヴィ ティ テゥ to write foreign sounds. But why didn't they create a new combination for "hu" such as ハゥ or ホゥ? Instead they use the same kana for ...
3
votes
2answers
100 views

Is マラソン always 42.195 km?

ALC translate the Japanese マラソン into the English "marathon", which the English Wikipedia says has an official distance of 42.195 kilometres. Is マラソン always 42.195 km? Or has the Japanese word a ...