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I read this line in a blog today:

料理に使えるおススメ品や、ご飯屋さんを紹介しています。

and I have two questions:

1) I know that the writer can use katakana for emphasis or for some other reason, but why is it mixed like this? Is the honorific in this case? It seems that おすすめ and すすめ have roughly the same meaning, but I really don't know the difference.

2) Can you write the honorific prefix in katakana オ in some cases? I wonder if you cannot, then that is why it was written this way.

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1) Yes, the お is an honorific but it cannot be dropped in this case.  We just never say ススメ[品]{ひん}.

Since this is fairly informal writing, the author is "granted" the stylistic choices that are not allowed in formal writing.

The word could have been written お勧め、おすすめ、オススメ、おススメ, etc. but the author apparently thought おススメ would fit best. As an average Japanese-speaker, I have no problem with this choice --- none. It looks nice and light. Point is that it would NOT make the author look one bit more educated or sofisticated if s/he opted for お勧め or お薦め.

2)Yes. As I stated above, オススメ is totally natural and acceptable in informal writing. In formal writing, however, it is out of the question.

  • I see... I can understand the difference kanji vs. kana, but why so many kana version (おすすめ、オススメ、おススメ)? Is there any point to it, or is it just to keep things interesting? – user3169 May 4 '14 at 5:48

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