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Is Katakana used for anything other than names and foreign words?

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I've already put a lot of time and effort into learning katakana and I was wondering how practical learning the whole alphabet actually is? If foreign words and names are all it's used for then I feel I've spent far too much time learning those characters...

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It's also used for sound effects (onomatopeias) and sometimes when somebody wants to emphasise a particular word or phrase in a sentence, for example.

Don't think that it was a wasted time, since katakana really is essential to knowing Japanese.

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  • 2 months later...

I might be alone in thinking this but I think the Japanese should stop using Katana and just replace it with the English alphabet, which they learn anyway. Katakana is mainly used for foreign words but we do that with our alphabet too. I get that Katakana makes foreign words easier to be pronounced but if they started just using the English alphabet would there eventually be a generation of people with better pronunciation?

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Another lesser-known use for it is for "scientific" names for things, even if they are Japanese. A great example I've encountered is different ways of writing "dog":

犬 - the kanji, just "dog" in a general sense

いぬ - what you might use for your own dog - it's "softer" than kanji

イヌ - canis lupus familiaris - "the dog" as a species of animal (the Japanese Wikipedia page uses this form, for example)

I totally disagree that Japanese should get rid of katakana just because there's a Latin alphabet for loan words, not least because it's an argument reeking of Western imperialism, but mostly because it's been around for a long time (c.f. Edo period and earlier texts using it where hiragana is standard now), and serves a greater purpose than rendering English in Japanese. I notice that English doesn't use the Cyrillic alphabet to write "Moscow" or kanji to write "tsunami" (indeed Russian uses Cyrillic for loanwords, and Arabic uses the Arabic alphabet for them too), so why shouldn't Japan use their own "alphabet" to write loan words?

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