Is 一 in バスルーム and コンピュータ meant to indicate a drawn out vowel? Like ba-su-ruuu-mu and kon-pi-yuuu-ta? Or is it a counter somehow? And it's the line radical (http://www.kanjidamage.com/kanji/1-one-line-radical-%E4%B8%80) right, and not a katakana like the other characters? Other examples include ヨーロッパ and オーストラリア.

Wasn't sure if it was related to this question: Syntactic Properties of "Bare Numerals": 「一」in「其の一」

  • 1
    To address your last comment, this character is not related to the 一 in 其の一 whatsoever, and no, it is not a counter. The ー you are asking about is an auxiliary character used with katakana, whereas 一 is a real Kanji that means "one", "1". They just happen to look very similar when written horizontally. When writing vertically, your "vowel elongator" character is placed vertical like this | , while the kanji for "one" is still written like this 一.
    – jarmanso7
    May 17, 2020 at 21:23
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    If you compare both characters carefully, you will see they are different in length: ー一
    – jarmanso7
    May 17, 2020 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


It's very surprising to me that this hasn't been answered somewhere on the site before, but after quite a bit of searching I can't find anything. This may just be so basic that it has slipped between the cracks.

The in these words (and generally in katakana words) represents an extension of the vowel before it. According to Wikipedia, which is actually fairly informative in this case, it's called a 長音符.

The chōonpu is usually used to indicate a long vowel sound in katakana writing, rarely in hiragana writing, and never in romanized Japanese.

That said, I hear it referenced colloquially as 伸ばし棒 almost exclusively (as is mentioned on the Japanese wiki page). I don't actually know a good name for this in English; I would probably just call it a vowel extension.

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