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Katakana Extra Lesson

Katakana also has Sokuon and Youon. But since the logic is exactly the same as Hiragana, we don't waste our time teaching and learning the same thing. Instead, I want to teach you something new in this lesson.

What does 'ー' mean in Katakana phrases?

This is the symbol for long vowels. For details, go to this lesson. Do not mix it up with the Kanji 一. To type this long vowel symbol, just use the button between 0 and =.

One Katakana is missing in our lessons: ヲ

This Katakana is practically not used in Japan anymore. Some banks don't even allow account holders to have this Katakana in their names. It is because Katakana nowadays are mainly used for transcribing European languages (mostly English), ヲ, whose pronunciation is the same as オ, does not make any contribution in this regard and has thus been phased out. As a result, we don't need to learn this Katakana.

ヲ, however, is used in slangs such as ヲタク (people with obsessive interest on a particular subject).

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How do people transcribe English sound elements that do not exist in Japanese?

A lot of sound elements in English are missing in Japanese. Examples are "th", "v", "w" (except wa) and the famous "R" and "L". Solutions made by the Japanese people are as follows:

Sound in English How to transcribe into Japanese?
  1. Treat it as 'B'. Va, Vi, Vu, Ve, Vo will then become バビブベボ.
  2. Use ヴ to indicate the V sound and then write the vowel with a smaller font size, e.g. ヴァ、ヴィ、ヴ、ヴェ、ヴォ. (ヴ is Vu by default. To type them, just input Va, Vi...etc.

The pronunciation, however, is 'B' in both cases.


Use フ to indicate the F sound. Fa, Fi, Fu, Fe, Fo will then become ファ、フィ、フ、フェ、フォ.

The F will be pronounced the Japanese way, e.g. without the upper front teeth touching the lower lip.

W Use ウ to indicate the W sound. Wi, Wu, We, Wo will then become ウィ、ウ、ウェ、ウォ.
R and L Both are transcribed as Japanese R, e.g. ラリルレロ.
Th The unvoiced Th is transcribed as 'S', e.g. サシスセソ; the voiced Th is transcribed as 'Z', e.g. ザジズゼゾ.
consonant cluster A vowel will be added. For instance, 'present' is transcribed as 'purezento'.
Last consonant Usually, a vowel is added. For example, 'hot' is transcribed as 'hotto'.

How to write:

Although we don't need to use this Katakana, learning its stroke order won't hurt.

The stroke order illustrations are made by D.328, used under CCSA3.0.