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Katakana

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maxiewawa
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Joined: April 25th, 2006 9:36 am

Katakana

Postby maxiewawa » May 9th, 2006 11:41 pm

I've been fascinated by Katakana ever since I started learning Japanese. When reading text, something written in Katakana always seems to me to be like having the trademark 'tm' symbol next to it.

It's always interesting to try to guess which foreign word the Katakana word came from. Here's a weird one:

I was in a video game arcade and i saw some katakana. I always try to sound out something when I see it so I read it out...

サ。。。。ム。。。。ラ。。。イ。。。。

サムライ!(samurai)

It's weird how language works. Is samurai a foreign word? Is it English? Today's Kanji is 侍, and one of the English translations is 'samurai'.

More on the topic though, why is it in Katakana? It's such a Japanese word... I've actually seen many native Japanese words written in Kata, usually outside of books: Cd covers, video game machines etc. And some words are used interchangeably... バカ (baka) is sometimes written in Kata, which always makes me giggle and think of the English word 'bugger'. What's the deal with Kata in these situations?

Jason
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Joined: April 22nd, 2006 1:38 pm

Postby Jason » May 10th, 2006 12:42 am

For that kind of thing, games, CDs, etc, the choice to use katakana rather than kanji and/or hiragana is strictly a stylistic thing most of the time. Also, katakana is sometimes used to emphasize words. You'll see that a good bit in manga.

But no, samurai is definitely not a foreign loanword or something.
Jason
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ecarliz
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Joined: April 24th, 2006 7:23 am

Postby ecarliz » May 10th, 2006 2:00 am

great you ask this question, Im sure many people has been asking this same thing themselves. Anyways, its good to know this, because so many people tend to think that just because a word is in katakana immediately makes it a foreign word (even though that should be its only usage :P)

by the way I can understand your fascination on katakana. I love how it looks, and how it allways stands out in japanese text, looks so artistic. ;)

Charles
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Joined: April 27th, 2006 10:34 pm

Postby Charles » May 10th, 2006 7:44 pm

I used to think everything in katakana looked cool too, but over time that ended up becoming a distraction that would break my flow.

Very innocuous words like ページ and エンピツ take the thrill out of trying to figure out what word it is. Most katakana don't seem to refer to anything special.

I don't want to rain on your parade. :) But it may help you if, early on, you keep its appearance from influencing you.

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