42 votes
Accepted

Why is the term オナニー written in katakana?

More specifically, オナニー is from German Onanie. Interestingly, German apparently borrowed the term from older English onania (per Duden's etymology here), which in turn was a derivation of the name ...
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38 votes
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= sign in a katakana name

It's a double hyphen, not an equals sign. One of its uses is when transliterating names that have a hyphen in them. This is to avoid confusion with the extended sound symbol (ー) in Japanese. For ...
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  • 8,183
34 votes
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Why is the word オタク written in katakana?

In this case, katakana is used to indicate オタク is used not in its original sense but in its derivative sense. おたく was (and still is) an honorific expression used to refer to someone's family. So オタク ...
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  • 264k
28 votes
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What "non-standard" katakana are commonly used?

Here is a list of extended katakana color coded based on usage. In my personal experience, I have seen the orange ones and most of the blue ones in actual use multiple times. The beige and purple ones ...
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  • 396
27 votes
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Why is this written in katakana instead of hiragana?

の in traditional proper nouns are commonly written in katakana. 壇ノ浦 三ノ宮駅 鬼ノ城 沖ノ鳥島 Practically, this can help people notice that this の is part of the proper noun and not the ordinary particle. ...
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  • 264k
25 votes

Why are katakana preferred over hiragana or kanji sometimes?

Japanese often use katakana for certain Japanese-origin words when they are difficult to write or imagine in kanji. I guess it's because they sound somewhat like 'foreign' or 'onomatopoeia' to ...
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  • 264k
24 votes
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How to pronounce the English alphabet? (A, B, C, ...)

I share your experience. Sticking straight to the katakana pronunciation below, I have never had the problem of someone not understanding me any more. I believe this is the pronunciation currently ...
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  • 47.3k
20 votes
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Do Japanese people see ツ as a smiling face?

I read your question "Do Japanese people see [tsu] as a smiling face" and read over the question several times before I got it. And I'm not a native Japanese reader (or speaker). Just like your ت (...
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  • 47.3k
19 votes
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Why did の disappear from 山手, but in 御茶ノ水 it's in katakana?

According to Wikipedia, the correct name of “山手線” is “やまのてせん.” In the application form of business license submitted by The National Railway (then 日本国有鉄道) to the government before the start of ...
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  • 9,425
19 votes

Do Japanese actually pronounce the "v" sound?

I think on reading ヴァ, ヴィ, etc., people usually try to pronounce it differently from バ, ビ, etc., but with varying success. In fact, I think most Japanese that try to distinguish ヴァ and バ pronounce ...
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  • 47.3k
18 votes
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Is there a particular name for the rows and columns of the hiragana/katakana charts?

The columns (or rows) that have the same initial consonant are labeled as the first item in that column (consonant + a) followed by [行]{ぎょう}. Examples of such are あ行, か行, さ行, た行, etc. The rows (or ...
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  • 7,845
18 votes
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Which language レシート is adapted from?

Derivation of レシート Numerous dictionaries state that レシート is from English receipt. See, for instance, the Dajisen and Daijirin entries visible here at Kotobank (in Japanese), or here at Wiktionary (...
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17 votes
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Why are the names of plants and animals often written in katakana?

This depends on the type of the words. As for easy and common words, such as 桜, 犬, 蚊, they are usually written in kanji. These are written in katakana only in biological contexts. 常用漢字表 generally ...
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  • 264k
17 votes
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Why is Toyota typically written in Katakana? (トヨタ)

It's a matter of stylistic choice which is hard to explain logically. It's kind of like asking why many Western companies adopted lowercase logos these days, which apparently look "grammatically wrong"...
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  • 264k
17 votes

Why is "Wikipedia" written as ウィキペディア instead of ワィキペディア?

ウィ is the standard way of transcribing [wi] or [wɪ]. Similarly ウェ is used for [wɛ] (for example website → ウェブサイト) and ウォ for [wɒ] or [wɔ] (for example wombat → ウォンバット or walkman ウォークマン). Here ウ is ...
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  • 47.3k
16 votes

Why Can't A Name Be Written Literally In Japanese?

Basically, there are just some sounds that exist in other languages which cannot easily be phonemically represented in Japanese. Disclaimer - this is a simplified answer, but ... As with any ...
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  • 11.2k
16 votes

Why do textbooks and other sources pretend special katakana don't exist?

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. ...
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  • 264k
15 votes
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Why is beatboxing called 「ヒューマンビートボックス」?

The term is a loanword from the English term human beatbox or beat box: a person that makes musical sounds using the human vocal organs. The abbreviated term is beatbox or beat box. The performer is ...
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  • 6,507
14 votes
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What special kana are used to write foreign words?

Heads up: Some of this is going to be a bit obscure. Wikipedia covers some of this ground; examples consisting of proper names, place names, etc. were checked via Japanese Wikipedia articles. ウィ、ウ、...
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  • 5,060
14 votes
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Orthography at the turn of the previous century

Yes, it's common to write in that way. Writing いづみ instead of いずみ and 買ひ instead of 買い are a part of the Historical Kana Orthography (歴史的仮名遣). Writing katakana instead of hiragana is considered more ...
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  • 2,885
14 votes
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How would one emulate capitalized letters in Japanese?

Exclamation marks are one way (as in English), and often a っ before an exclamation mark can give the effect of increased volume. They can even be repeated or put into katakana for more emphasis. 黙れ! ...
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  • 5,292
14 votes

What does "fūtsu" mean?

This is either a typo or a "reado". Trying to reconstruct the original sentence from your rōmaji version, I'm guessing it is 茂作の顔に息をフーッと吹きかけた フーッと is listed in some dictionaries (e.g. ...
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  • 47.3k
14 votes
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What is the name of the writing that appears on the screen when watching television?

テロップ (from English telop) is the generic word for any type of superimposed text on TV, and it's understood by everyone. You can see many テロップ's in the image below, at the top, right, left and bottom ...
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  • 264k
13 votes

Why doesn't Japanese have a special Katakana form for "hu"?

Snailboat's answer is based more on "conservative" Japanese where /ɸ/ is not a phoneme. However in younger people's Japanese, /ɸ/ and /h/ are distinguished before all vowels other than /u/: ...
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  • 2,995
13 votes
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Non-standard katakana (エナジー vs. エネルギー)

Basically what I know エナジー & エネルギー both are gairaigo words & interchangeable (shown up as alternative of each other in dictionary), but they have different origins. 1) エナジー originated from ...
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