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Katakana words starting with キャ

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Lothor

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A chat with my first year JHS son got me curious about this.
Why are katakana words for English words starting with ca written with a キャ instead of a カ such as キャベツ、キャンペーン、and キャバレー when the pronunciation of the first syllable is clearly カ? Is there a linguistic reason or did someone high up decide that it was so, so it has been ever since?
 

Buntaro

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Lothor,

The characters キャ are used to render the sound /æ/ into Japanese. The symbol /æ/ is the vowel sound in the words cat, laugh, and plaid. We use キャ to distinguish /æ/ as in “cat” from /ah/ as in “caught”: casting (in a movie) キャスチング which differentiates the sound of “casting” from “costing” when they become words in Japanese.

キャ and カ do not have the same sound.
 
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Lothor

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I never knew that plaid was pronouned 'plad', I always thought it was pronounced 'played', so I've learned something there!

I agree that カ and キャ sound different but still think that カ more accurately describes how every single native English speaker I know pronounces ca- words.
 
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