What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

Writing foreign words in Katakana

Petaris

Sailing away...
Donor
Joined
3 Aug 2007
Messages
731
Reaction score
377
Hi all,
I am working through a book on Katakana at the moment and I am having difficulty on transcribing foreign words to Katakana. The book has many pages on the rules to use in different circumstances but some of them are difficult to know when you are supposed to use said method/rule. Does anyone know of an easy to understand guide that might lay it out in a more understandable way?
Also the book indicates that many of the rules aren't absolutes and that they are not necessarily applied and that it just depends on who wrote the word and what they wanted to convey (more accurate spelling or more accurate pronunciation). Does anyone have advice they could give me on that point? How should I do it?
Thanks,
 

Chidoriashi

In imagination land
Joined
2 Feb 2007
Messages
772
Reaction score
62
Also the book indicates that many of the rules aren't absolutes and that they are not necessarily applied and that it just depends on who wrote the word and what they wanted to convey (more accurate spelling or more accurate pronunciation). Does anyone have advice they could give me on that point? How should I do it?
Thanks,

Ahh I see you have stumbled across the reason many English speaking Japanese language learners hate Katakana.

I do not really have any solid advice for you, but it is something you will generally pick up in time with enough exposure. It will always be a pain in my book though.
 
Joined
19 May 2007
Messages
1,648
Reaction score
112
Ahh I see you have stumbled across the reason many English speaking Japanese language learners hate Katakana.
I do not really have any solid advice for you, but it is something you will generally pick up in time with enough exposure. It will always be a pain in my book though.
Are you selling that book by any chance? :p

I agree, Katakana is something that has to be learned with experience.
 

Ben Bullock

Fried Egg
Joined
9 Jan 2010
Messages
81
Reaction score
0
I am working through a book on Katakana at the moment and I am having difficulty on transcribing foreign words to Katakana. The book has many pages on the rules to use in different circumstances but some of them are difficult to know when you are supposed to use said method/rule. Does anyone know of an easy to understand guide that might lay it out in a more understandable way?
Also the book indicates that many of the rules aren't absolutes and that they are not necessarily applied and that it just depends on who wrote the word and what they wanted to convey (more accurate spelling or more accurate pronunciation). Does anyone have advice they could give me on that point? How should I do it?
I have a web page which contains most of the rules for transcribing English words into Japanese:
How do I write an English word in Japanese?
I've also implemented it as a computer program:
English to Katakana Converter
I wouldn't say my page is particularly easy to understand, though.
 
Last edited:

nekojita

先輩
Joined
14 Jan 2009
Messages
1,660
Reaction score
442
If you are looking for the "normal" katakana spelling of a name or place name, the best thing to do is to find a wikipedia article on it (e.g. in English), and look to see if there's a link for 日本語. Most major places/famous people will have a Japanese version article.

You can also do this by searching in the Japanese version of wikipedia in romaji, because they usually have headings like this:

ロンドン(英語:London)

Be a little careful as names which are pronounced differently in different western countries will have different katakana spellings, e.g. Jean can be ジーン or ジャン, Albert can be アルベルトor アルベール

Best example of the katakana problem: ストライク and ストライキ
They both are transliterated versions of "strike".
However, they have different meanings. The first is "strike" as in a physical hit, or the meaning in baseball (also bowling).
The second is "strike" as in "hunger strike" "worker's strike".

In some ways, a logical solution to the fact that "strike" has multiple meanings in English.
In other ways, a pain in the rear end. ;)
 

Ben Bullock

Fried Egg
Joined
9 Jan 2010
Messages
81
Reaction score
0
Best example of the katakana problem: ストライク and ストライキ
They both are transliterated versions of "strike".
However, they have different meanings. The first is "strike" as in a physical hit, or the meaning in baseball (also bowling).
The second is "strike" as in "hunger strike" "worker's strike".
That's a good example, but I would say that ラムネ versus レモネード beats that.
 
Joined
19 May 2007
Messages
1,648
Reaction score
112
I'm not sure it is possible to objectively rate these things. It's just a subjective opinion, isn't it?
I am not the one who stated which beats what... And as you said , I am stating my "subjective opinion" that Nekojita's example is harder to understand.
 

Chidoriashi

In imagination land
Joined
2 Feb 2007
Messages
772
Reaction score
62
If you are looking for the "normal" katakana spelling of a name or place name, the best thing to do is to find a wikipedia article on it (e.g. in English), and look to see if there's a link for 日本語. Most major places/famous people will have a Japanese version article.

I say this is great advice for trying to figure out how to say anything that is not typically in the dictionary, wikipedia has helped me through many translations.
 
Last edited:

Chidoriashi

In imagination land
Joined
2 Feb 2007
Messages
772
Reaction score
62
Are you selling that book by any chance? :p
I agree, Katakana is something that has to be learned with experience.

Naa, I figure I should wait, and have it be discovered after my tragic suicide. It is sure to be a bestseller then.
 
Joined
19 May 2007
Messages
1,648
Reaction score
112
Sorry, did I make you feel frustrated?
Yes, yes you did...

sarcasm-1.jpg
 

Petaris

Sailing away...
Donor
Joined
3 Aug 2007
Messages
731
Reaction score
377
Thanks for the responses guys! And thanks for the links to your site Ben Bullock! :)

I hadn't thought of using Wikipedia, thats a good idea though doesn't really help if I'm somewhere where I can't access the internet. I kind of figured that it might be something I just have to learn as I go but I was hoping there was just some simple trick to figuring it out. :)

Thanks again! :)
 
Top Bottom