1

While learning Katakana, I was instructed to try and translate my name Todd. I ended up with トド.

When I look it up online, I see トッド everywhere. ッ appears to be 'tsu'.

I think I am missing something about combined characters. Can anyone provide some clarification?

2

The "small tsu" ッ is not pronounced tsu, but rather represents gemination.

The rule of thumb is that a final D gets transliterated as ッド (and a final T as ット)

  • bed → ベッド
  • pad → パッド
  • good → グッド
  • god → ゴッド

As you probably learned, this is part of a set of rules of thumb, which deal with final consonants in transliteration, since (except for ン) there are no kana without a vowel at the end.

As Japanese phonetics allow for /u/ to be almost silent, naturally kana from the /-u/-column in the kana chart (e.g. ク, ス, フ, etc.) would be good candidates to simulate final consonants. However, for /du/ or /tu/ this does not work, as these are pronounced zu and tsu and so here one uses the kana from the /-o/-column instead.

I guess the small tsu ッ is added to make the ド sound more "dry", i.e. more like a consonant and less like a syllable.

See also

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  • Thank you for the detailed answer and links. I appreciate it! – trh178 Sep 19 '19 at 13:34

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