Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Katakana Culture."
Part of an occasional “Round and Square” series, "Katakana Culture" entries explore various ways that the katakana syllabary is used in Japanese life.
For those new to thinking about Japanese language, katakana is the medium through which "foreign" words are rendered into Japanese (the system has other uses, too, some of which work like italics in English). Here round meets square and east meets west in a distinctive language setting. Everything from "pie" to "Wittgenstein" can be made to "fit" the needs of the Japanese writing system. It is potentially the most accessible part of the Japanese language for non-native speakers, and even a small bit of study will pay large interpretive benefits. If you want to try to learn the forty-six symbols and sounds, just type "katakana practice" in any search engine. For now, I have included very rough approximations of the sound for those who haven't studied Japanese. If you do study Japanese, please don't flinch; think of the poor reader who wants to try but needs help (have some compassion, people). I will replace those soon with audio files, which will be nicer for everyone.
|[a] "Slope" |
|[b-1] See below |
|[b-2] see above |
[a] Photo by LaFleur (Nara)
[b-1] Photo by LaFleur (Kyoto)
[b-2] Photo by LaFleur (Kyoto--same ビル)