Questions tagged [katakana]

カタカナ. That form of the Japanese kana syllabary which is not cursive and is most commonly used for (but not restricted to) writing words borrowed from other languages.

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Why are katakana preferred over hiragana or kanji sometimes?

I noticed that "dame", which means "not good" or "don't do that", is sometimes written in manga as katakana. I was wondering, is it because katakana is used to express a strong feeling? Sometimes, ...
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15 votes
3 answers
9k views

Why are the names of plants and animals often written in katakana?

I was wondering why fruits, vegetables, animals and plants, are written in katakana? Often, there exist kanjis for those, so why aren't they written with those kanjis instead? For example: カマキリ ...
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17 votes
4 answers
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Why doesn't Japanese have a special Katakana form for "hu"?

They have created many new Katakana words such as ファ フィ ヴァ ヴィ ティ テゥ to write foreign sounds. But why didn't they create a new combination for "hu" such as ハゥ or ホゥ? Instead they use the same kana for "...
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8 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why is Toyota typically written in Katakana? (トヨタ)

Presumably, as a Japanese name, it should be written in Chinese characters or in hiragana.
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19 votes
2 answers
6k views

Why is the word オタク written in katakana?

Why is the word オタク(otaku) written in katakana? I thought only foreign words are written in katakana. Is this word maybe foreign after all? But it is used in Japanese, so I am confused. Please give ...
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25 votes
3 answers
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Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

I realize that very likely the answer to this question is likely to be something along the lines of "that's just the way it is", but I thought it worth asking to see if there were some insights that ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Why using です in katakana?

This question might sound stupid but it got me thinking for some hours. A friend bought me this gel pen from a Japanese store in my country, and it is written in the pen: かわいいデス instead of かわいいです ...
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17 votes
3 answers
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What "non-standard" katakana are commonly used?

I know about the "standard" special katakana, like ファ fa, ディ di, ヴ vu, etc. However, I keep running into others I can't find on any list, including the ones in What special kana are used to write ...
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14 votes
2 answers
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Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound?

Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound? They do have a kana character (ヴ) dedicated to transcribing foreign "v" sounds, but do they actually pronounce them like the English phoneme /v/ (using ...
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52 votes
10 answers
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When is the katakana form of wo (ヲ) used?

I'm pretty new to Japanese, and I've been trying to learn hiragana and katakana. I know that in hiragana, wo (を) is used only for as an object particle, and it is always pronounced like o (お). This ...
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16 votes
7 answers
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Are there words which consist of katakana and hiragana letters together?

Obviously many Japanese words consist of kanji characters plus hiragana since the latter are used for okurigana: 食べる 水割り 鷹の爪 Recently I'v started to discover a few words that use kanji characters ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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What special kana are used to write foreign words?

How does Japanese handle sounds outside the 五十音図【ごじゅうおんず】? Are there ways of distinguishing sounds such as V or L in katakana renderings of foreign words? How are the missing sounds in the ワ column ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Why is "Yamata no Orochi" written in katakana?

In the game Okami, the demon Yamata no Orochi is written here, and also in a separate game here as ヤマタノオロチ, not やまたのおろち. Even the particle の is in katakana. I'm curious as to why this is. I know that ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Can I write Japanese name "Midori" this way - 緑?

There is female Japanese name "Midori," and I want to know the ways I can write it. I know it means "green," but maybe the name and "green" are different words sometimes. I used google-translator to ...
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10 votes
1 answer
747 views

Orthography at the turn of the previous century

A couple of days ago I purchased an old book published in 1908. It uses a strange orthography I haven't encountered before. Everything that is not in kanji is written in katakana, including particles,...
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3 votes
1 answer
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What does "fūtsu" mean?

This is from Yuki-onna: Mosaku no kao ni iki wo fu-tsu to fukikaketa. The "fuutsu/fu-tsu" is written in katakana and is most likely an onomatopoeic word, related to breathing. It's not essential ...
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40 votes
5 answers
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Why was both katakana and hiragana created?

Nowadays, katakana tends to be used for gairaigo and onomatopoeia, while hiragana tends to be used for native Japanese words. This is a slight simplification - more information is available here. ...
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27 votes
1 answer
4k views

= sign in a katakana name

I was surprised when I came across this Wikipedia page: アーシュラ・K・ル=グウィン Does someone knows what that = sign is? I can see it works as a separator like 「・」 Is it simply an alternative?
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is the function of 一 in バスルーム and コンピュータ?

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-...
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16 votes
8 answers
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Why are there 3 ways of writing in Japanese?

Why are there kanji, hiragana and katakana? Is there a logical reason behind this or just tradition?
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9 votes
2 answers
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What are the rules determining the use of the dash in katakana?

As explained in this question, a dash character is used in katakana as an extension of a sound. First, what exactly is this character called? A "nobasu mark"? Anyway, I saw this sign in Shibuya the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How to know when I should use katakana form words referring to animals, lesser creatures, or other organisms?

I know many words for animals are usually written in katakana in contemporary Japanese, even though kanji exist: イルカ クマ And it seems some very common domestic animals I don't seem to notice written ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is there a defined cause for the recent rise in the popularity of gairaigo?

I was looking on the web for Japanese graphic design and found some pre-WWII material. Then I saw some more recent advertisement material. Comparing the two eras, I notice a difference that was beyond ...
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  • 225
-1 votes
1 answer
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Kana in Movie Title: 「シン・ゴジラ」

In the 2016 film, "Shin Godzilla", the Japanese title is rendered "シン・ゴジラ" (shin gojira). I assume that this "shin" here is 神? Why did they spell "shin" in katakana as if it was a foreign word? ...
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the etymology of モテる?

Where does モテ come from? モテる to be popular with opposite sex.
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4 votes
4 answers
610 views

Why do some loanword sounds get "contracted" when katakanized, but not others?

Not sure the best way to word this. Why is it that some sounds from a loanword get combined down to a shorter or different sound while other do not? Here are some examples: Shortened, but sound ...
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4 votes
1 answer
649 views

Confusion regarding writing a word in Kanji and Katakana

In the One Piece manga, it's quite common to see the names of character's attacks written in both Kanji and Katakana. Take as examples: Gekko Moriah's Doppelman [影法師]{ドッペルマン} Dopperuman, literally ...
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39 votes
7 answers
65k views

Difference between katakana so and n

I am having high confusion between katakana n ン and katakana so ソ. They look very similar even with the different stroke directions, they look very similar. Could anyone suggest how to differentiate ...
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30 votes
3 answers
189k views

What are the differences/characteristics between katakana, kanji and hiragana?

I know that romaji is the conversion from those to the roman alphabet, but what are the differences or characteristics between katakana, kanji, and hiragana? Are they used on a different context? Is ...
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22 votes
3 answers
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Who decides what katakana will be used to form English loan words?

I love katakana, mostly because of how the characters look. But I am constantly baffled by why certain loan words from English are constructed using certain katakana sounds. For example, if someone ...
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15 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why is this written in katakana instead of hiragana?

Why in this image ノ is written in katakana and not in hiragana?
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11 votes
1 answer
2k views

Legal characters for first names include: hiragana, katakana, jinmeiyo and joyo kanji. What about latin letters?

Is it legal for parents to give to their child a first name with latin letters (romaji, I guess), instead of using katakana, hiragana, or kanji? For example, if Japanese parents want to give their ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Method for deciding whether to use katakana or kanji version of the word?

I often see words in sentences written in カタカナ or 漢字 that could be swapped for a common word of the other form. I am aware that there are lots of カタカナ words that do have a 漢字 form, but where the 漢字 ...
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6 votes
2 answers
8k views

Why are there multiple katakana readings for a single kanji?

When I look at a kanji word I see one, or multiple Hiragana pronunciations (or should I call it translation?) - sometimes the pronunciations are for different kanjis, but that's not the question. I'...
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3 votes
1 answer
256 views

Why is "Encouragement of Climb" written in katakana instead of hiragana?

I'm just a beginner in Japanese, but I know the difference between the use of katakana and hiragana in sentences. Katakana is used for transliteration of foreign words, onomatopoeia, technical or ...
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11 votes
4 answers
1k views

What determines whether a word gets a kanji compound or katakana?

I read electronics/computing articles, and I find an incredible amount of terms are written either in kanji (almost similar to Chinese) or katakana. There are times when it's confusing as to know why. ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana rather than Romaji?

Are foreign personal names usually written in katakana, or is this dependent on the type or writing, and the target audience? For example, this Japanese Wikipedia entry on Steven Bradbury uses ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why small version of katakana ヵ is used in a word 二ヵ国語

Why do they use sometimes small version of katakana ヵ 'ka' in a word 二ヵ国語 (nikakokugo -bilingual)? For me, more intuitive form could be 二か国語. Katakana characters in small forms other than ya, yu, yo, ...
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4 votes
1 answer
249 views

Why does Unicode have code points for MANSYON, APAATO and such?

In Unicode, there are many characters named like "SQUARE APAATO" which look like this ㌀ - a number of katakana characters arranged in a square. The full list is here: http://www.fileformat.info/info/...
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3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Intentional hiragana transcription for foreign names

Is it possible and acceptable to transcript foreign names into hiragana instead of katakana for aesthetic or other personal purposes? How would Japanese people judge this choice? Would they perceive ...
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3 votes
1 answer
315 views

How to distinguish between different types of katakana words?

I'm a beginner with Japanese and have been practising katakana more recently and in doing so, I noticed that many—maybe most—times, the reason something is written in katakana is because it is derived ...
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3 votes
3 answers
486 views

Does Okinawan have syllables Japanese doesn't?

I know Okinawan is usually (nowadays) written in katakana. However, katakana only has a limited number of different syllables, fewer than can be produced in, say, English (e.g. th). Does Okinawan have ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
458 views

Japanese for "Dami Im"

How would I translate Dami Im's name into Japanese? Im was born in South Korea (her name in Korean is 임다미), but moved to Australia when she was nine. "Dami" is her given name, and "Im" is her surname,...
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25 votes
1 answer
12k views

Why is カラオケ (karaoke) written in katakana?

I noticed カラオケ (karaoke) is always written in katakana on signs/buildings in Japan, despite it being a Japanese word. Why is it not written in Kanji or Hiragana? As I understand it, the usual reasons ...
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11 votes
3 answers
8k views

How would one emulate capitalized letters in Japanese?

Capitalized letters look like I'M SHOUTING AT YOU. How would you reproduce this effect in Japanese? I don't think any of the obvious choices, using カタカナ instead of 漢字 or ひらがな, using punctuation, e....
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14 votes
4 answers
11k views

Does a small tsu double all consonants?

In several sources it's mentioned that a SMALL TSU doubles consonants. My problem is, some websites give almost identical examples with: っ/ッ + (S, T, C, K, G, B, P) But what about the others?: っ/ッ + (...
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  • 143
11 votes
3 answers
724 views

Why is this katakana not reversed?

Just saw this image about Nintendo on Kotaku: Clearly the company name, description, and location are written in traditional right-to-left orientation. Even かるた is right-to-left. So why is トランプ ...
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10 votes
1 answer
12k views

What is the name of the writing that appears on the screen when watching television?

When watching the news and other shows on television, I often see various written content displayed on the screen for brief periods of time, usually on the bottom, but sometimes on the right. I just ...
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  • 6,577
8 votes
2 answers
12k views

Why is katakana sometimes used to replace hiragana? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why “dame” is written as katakana (ダメ) in manga? The question title kinda says it all! This confuses me, as I thought katakana was used exclusively for loan words. ...
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7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Long vowel AND extension?

In an artwork of a pokemon, Lunala in English, it is written ルナアーラ. Why, after the ナ, are there both an ア and a ー? It would just be pronounced as if any of those two were removed, so why are they both ...
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