What is the difference in カタカナ between ー and ッ? They both seem to indicate a pause of sorts, but ー only appears in カタカナ, but not in ひらがな.


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    This really seems like two rather different questions. The use of ー and ッ is completely unrelated to keigo. I'd suggest you break this up into two distinct questions. I suppose a comprehensive list of prefixes might be possible. You could start by looking at the various readings for 御; it has quite a few. But the rules of usage are, in my opinion, high idiosyncratic. I think it's best to learn them on a case by case basis. At any rate, if you split the questions, then it will help (to avoid downvotes) if you clarify what you hope to gain by such a list.
    – A.Ellett
    Jul 10, 2017 at 5:50
  • The questions are entirely distinct--I mostly wanted to ask the katakana-related question before bed without waiting another forty minutes. My intent in asking about 御 is because, of the resources I have found, I was told in a book to "listen to native speakers and take note of what words may be given the honorific prefix". Unfortunately, the frequency of that possibility is slim. Hence my search for a comprehensive list, wherever it may be found.
    – Miles Coe
    Jul 10, 2017 at 13:14
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1 Answer 1


In katakana, the 「-」is not a pause, but rather an elongation of the vowel sound. Lets take my last name (Smart) as an example. In Katakana, it is written as スマート。Writing this in roman characters it would be "su ma a to" (spaces added to correlate with the katakana characters.)

The katakana 「ッ」functions the same as other 「っ」characters in Japanese. There is a short pause followed by a slight emphasis of the consonant of the next character (don't over emphasize it). Lets look at my first name as an example. Alex, my first name, is written as アレックス。In roman characters it would be "a re kku su". (Double consonant 'k' notates pause and slight emphasis)

Just to be clear about the pause, its very short, to the point of being almost nonexistent. This is something that you'll get accustomed to as you practice with native speakers.

That being said, 「-」and 「ッ」are NOT interchangeable. My last name, cannot be written as スマット。In this case, you would not elongate the 'a' in 'ma', and your resulting sound would be "su ma tto." Though the sound is somewhat similar, there is a significant difference between the two pronunciations.

but ー only appears in カタカナ, but not in ひらがな.

In formal writing, you would be correct! Japanese words with foreign origins are written in katakana, and often, there are elongated sounds that happen. My last name (Smart), as discussed before, is one of those cases. This is why you see 「-」 in katakana so often.

In words of Japanese origin, you do get elongated vowel sounds, but the elongation is notated differently. The city of 大阪 is a great example, spelled as おおさか、the 'o' gets elongated. Another example of this is 今日【きょう】、notice that the 'o' is once again elongated, but this time it is followed by an う。Finally, 来週{らいしゅう}has an extended 'u,' and just as previously noted it was elongated by the う。

That should cover the vowel elongations for formal writing, but in informal writing, sometimes different vowel sounds are elongated. To understand that, I recommend that you read this question. EDIT: You'll also find this question interesting as well.

Hope it helps.

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