Take, for example, katakana such as ウェ, ティ, or ジェ. Many, many textbooks and other language sources, when showing a list of katakana, omit these.

For example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/05/Table_katakana.jpg

In particular, a lot of Japanese language books show full-looking hiragana and katakana charts, and they'll mention the special "f-" ones (ファ, フィ, フェ, and フォ), but not breathe a word about most of the others

This is very, very common, but...why? These are not obscure, archaic devices. They are used in everyday life. The Japanese word for "Sweden" uses ウェ. The Nintendo Wii uses ウィ. "Jason", a common English name, is best transcribed as ジェイソン, which uses ジェ.

So since these special syllables are not unusual...why is the culture surrounding the Japanese language such that so many sources pretend they don't exist?

  • 4
    If you're interested in all of the katakana that exist, don't forget about the special katakana that are used to spell out Ainu words. Since these are just for Ainu, unsurprisingly, the MS IME for Japanese doesn't include any default way to enter these characters. But they are also "special katakana" that exist. :) Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


ウェ, ティ and so on are collectively called extended katakana. As you can see in the link, the full list of extended katakana is fairly long, to the point where it's not suitable for beginners. Importantly, it's not for native Japanese words; most of them are used only when you have to represent foreign sounds accurately. I think it's a bit like é in English; although it's common in reality, it's for loanwords, and someone who learns English for the first time doesn't have to know it.

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    é is a really good example. Résumé is a really common loanword in English, but I would never expect é to be in an English textbook.
    – landonepps
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:36
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    Importantly, it's not for native Japanese words - While I generally agree with your answer, I don't see the relevance of this phrase. I believe that most of the katakana usage for beginners is typically for use with foreign loanwords.
    – Kimball
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 20:07
  • Résumé spelling is borrowed from French. There is no character é in English.
    – user1602
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 1:16

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