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I came across the sentence


on the English for Japanese speakers duolingo course. (I'm mainly doing it as dogfooding before suggesting it to a Japanese speaker learning English)

Is it normal in a context of talking about a foodstuff to use the katakana form?

Jisho.org doesn't indicate whether to use hiragana or katakana, and Wiktionary says

As with many terms that name organisms, this term is often spelled in katakana in biological contexts, as リンゴ.

Which I assume doesn't apply here. The Japanese edition of Wikipedia uses katakana, but it talks about it at least partially in a biological context.

marked as duplicate by naruto, broccoli forest, macraf, Community Feb 21 '17 at 9:26

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  • 1
    Short answer: No ; Long answer: No – virgil9306 Feb 21 '17 at 6:36
  • @naruto isn't that more about a biology context? – Andrew Grimm Feb 21 '17 at 7:55
  • @AndrewGrimm I'm aware that you're talking about non-biological contexts. For example ばら, バラ and 薔薇 are all very common in song lyrics, book titles and such. – naruto Feb 21 '17 at 9:25

Katakana tends to be used for any words that is a 品種(kind/type).
Like animals, vegetables or fruits.

Also, it is mostly(but not exclusively) used for words like 林檎 where the kanji is too hard to read for some people. Writing them in katakana is useful to make it easier to read by delimiting the beginning and ending of the words which is usually done by kanji.

Here is a list of common examples :


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