50

I think this image sums it up perfectly: Basically, it has to do with the angle you're draw it from and where it goes. You'll see variations on the bigger stroke on the right, especially in hand writing, but this clears up 99% of instances for me. Edit: source=http://ani-nouto.animeblogger.net/2012/08/11/guide-to-katakana-ri-so-n/


44

Phonemes and Allophones In English, we have two different /p/ sounds. When you say pin, you use an aspirated [pʰ] sound, and when you say spin you use an unaspirated [p˭] sound. This may come as a surprise! English speakers generally think of them as being the exact same sound. That's because English doesn't have any pair of words which are ...


41

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 Onan from the Biblical story mentioned by user Nothing at all. As a relatively recent non-native borrowed term, オナニー is thus written in katakana. (Incidentally, ...


39

Pretty simply, because there's a /w/ in the French royale /rwajal/. The onset cluster /rw/ is not allowed in Japanese phonotactics, so one of two repair strategies must be used: Epenthesis (inserting a sound to break up the consonant cluster) Deletion (removing a sound to eliminate the consonant cluster) In Japanese loanword phonology, both strategies are ...


36

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 example: クロード・レヴィ=ストロース (Claude Lévi-Strauss) Another time when the double hyphen is used is when in the original language, there is a stop in the sound. Your ...


35

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 was initially chosen to indicate you need to pay a special attention for interpreting this word. It's similar to enclosing a word with double quotes in English. ...


29

It's not a wholly Japanese word. It's a shortening of [空]{から} ('empty') and オーケストラ. So, since at least part of it needs to be written with katakana, the whole word is written with katakana. (Switching between the two within one word typically only happens in slang verbs like サボる.)


28

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 I have never seen used before (except maybe スィ), so don't bother learning them. Here's a list with example words I made based on the link, roughly ordered by ...


26

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. Historically, hiragana were not much preferred in proper nouns and official documents anyway. Meiji Constitution published in 1889 looked like this. (See: ...


25

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 Japanese. Common examples I can think of are: 滅茶苦茶 as メチャクチャ 御洒落 as オシャレ 出鱈目 as デタラメ 駄洒落 as ダジャレ 辻褄 as ツジツマ 我儘 as ワガママ 馬鹿 as バカ Of course these are not foreign ...


24

According to this page, the following types of characters are allowed in names: 名づけ(命名)に使える文字と記号 ひらがな(ゐ・ゑも含む) カタカナ(ヰ・ヱも含む) 「ー」(音をのばすときに使う。例:リリー、サリー) 「ゝ」(一つ前の字の繰り返しのとき使う。例:なゝえ) 「ゞ」(一つ前の字に濁音を付けて繰り返しのとき使う。例:みすゞ) 「々」((一つ前の漢字の繰り返しのとき使う。例:奈々) So that's hiragana, katakana, extension, and repetition marks. Valid examples are given for each in the ...


23

ハ for the topic particle. There's no difference from hiragana.


22

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 taught in Japanese schools. A: エー【HL】 B: ビー【HL】 C: シー【HL】 D: ディー【HHL】 E: イー【HL】 F: エフ【HL】 G: ジー【HL】 H: エイチ【HLL】 I: アイ【HL】 J: ジェー【HHL】 K: ケー【HL】 L: エル【HL】 M: エム【HL】...


21

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 (which sort of looks like a smiling face to me) and the German ü (to Japanese eyes, say), the Japanese ツ doesn't look like a smiling face to any eye who has become ...


20

There's even an exceptional word which mixes hiragana, katakana, and kanji, くノ一. Generally speaking, words are written with mixed writing systems when there are reasons to write different parts in different ways. (Sounds obvious, huh?) For example, in Tokyo Nagoya's example of あんパン, the first morpheme comes from Chinese 餡{あん}, and the second from ...


19

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 operation in early Meiji era, it was indicated as “山ノ手線,” and remained so until / during the World War II. However, the National Railway (then 国鉄) started to use the ...


18

Dono has a point in his comment where he mentions that even if there were a way to transcribe it, the sound [wu] does not exist in Japanese. Let me first explain why it doesn't exist. The Japanese phoneme /w/ as in /wa/,/wi/,/we/ and /wo/ (transcribed as ワ,ウィ,ウェ and ウォ) is not the same as the phoneme /w/ in English. /w/ in Japanese is the approximant (...


18

“アェ” is not a valid spelling of any sound in the standard usage of kana letters. If it is used to describe any sound (in a nonstandard way), I agree with AHelps that it probably describes “æ” sound. However, according to web search, アェウクス is a password which appears in a video game “時空の覇者 Sa・Ga3.” As it is a video game, the password used in it does not ...


18

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 what would be //v// indeed like the Spanish [[β]], a voiced bilabial fricative (or like a combination like [[bβ]]). That seems to make sense since the voiceless ...


18

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 columns) that have the same vowel sound are labeled with that vowel in hiragana (あ, い, う, え, or お) followed by [段]{だん}. Thus, the five rows are labeled as あ段, い段, ...


18

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 (in English; full disclosure: I edited that entry. See the listed sources there for authoritatively edited materials.). Why it is rendered this way in Japanese ...


18

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 used to emulate the [w] sound and ィ is a small kana, indicating the vowel. The small ィ also makes ウィ into a digraph (same length as single full-sized kana). ...


17

The basic answer is that は is written ハ in katakana. However, I think it depends on why it's written in katakana. One reason you might write something in katakana is to communicate pronunciation, and in this case the particle は would be written ワ: spelling pronunciation おはよう オハヨー こんにちは コンニチワ You can see this sort of use of ...


17

Japanese is to complicated at times: keep the explanation simple: Here is my mnemonic ソthe line points 'south' for 'so' ンthe line points 'north' for 'n' Like it?


17

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 language, you must differentiate between the actual sounds (phonology) and the writing system which represents the language (orthography). Although there are ...


16

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! vs 黙れっ! vs 黙れッッ!! Japanese writing also seems to have less rigor in its literature-writing rules than English, so you can probably get away with repeating ...


16

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 tells us what is considered easy and standard in modern Japanese. If you wrote "東京はサクラがきれいです" or "イヌを飼いたいと思う", that would look unnatural. Relatively difficult ...


16

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; ...


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