anibee's Guide to Nifty Japanese Words 101! (Vol. 7)

A taste of Katakana & Short-form Words

As most students learn at an early stage of their 'careers', the Japanese language comprises of 2 primary lists of characters; hiragana, which is used for most Japanese words, and what we’re touching on a bit today, katakana.

Used primarily for foreign words, katakana is often met with a lot of dread by new students, who often greet it with a groan of "ANOTHER set of Japanese words? Didn't I already just bust my back learning one already?!"

Katakana however, can be extremely handy and fun to use once one gets the hang of it, being able to convert just about any foreign word into something that looks and sounds... well... Japanese!


マクドナルド (makudonarudo)

Monster Hunter

モンスターハンター (monsutaa hanta)

100 Plus

ハンドレッドプラス (handoreddo purasu)

Like nearly every language, when words are used often in everyday speech, short-forms come about for the purpose of convenience. For instance:

マクドナルド⇒マック (makku)

モンスターハンター⇒モンハン (mon han)

ハンドレッドプラス⇒ハンプラ (han pura)

Sometimes, some foreign words that are translated to katakana are done so in a shortened form to begin with.

Cash register

レジ (Reji)

Gundam Plastic Model Kit

ガンプラ (Gunpla)

The numbers of combinations are endless and are often created on the fly. The only way to learn them all is through exposure from Japanese-speaking people - you won't find many these in your textbooks! Get out there and practice!

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