Drawing on media accounts and from a cultural studies approach, the panel explores various aspects of the use of katakana in the Japanese media. The purpose of the panel is to shed light upon the role of script choice in media and contribute to the wider studies of contemporary Japanese media.
Drawing on media accounts and from a cultural studies approach, this panel explores various aspects of the use of katakana in the Japanese media. There are three script types in the modern Japanese writing system, kanji, hiragana, and katakana. While hiragana and kanji are used for Japanese vocabulary and long-standing highly assimilated Sino-Japanese loans, katakana is a syllabic script used mainly to transliterate and phonetically nativize Western loanwords. The use of katakana thus makes a visual differentiation based on the origin of the written word. However, there are cases in which Japanese words or names are intentionally written in katakana for a certain reason and in which its script is preferred or avoided as opposed to the hiragana or kanji equivalents. In order to explore this issue, the panel discusses why and how katakana is used in media and its cultural implications in contemporary Japan. It starts with a paper focused on the use of katakana for Japanese words and names in news and social media (Hosokawa), followed by a study on the use of katakana in new media communication through the analysis of net-poetry via twitter (De Pieri), and concluded by a paper on the implication of the use of katakana in the media representation of the place name Fukushima (Koyama). The impact of media is growing rapidly today and it is therefore essential to analyse how the use of language and script in news and social media influences our understanding of the world. Through the specific analysis of the katakana script, the discussions in this panel seek to shed light upon the role of script choice in media with the ultimate goal of contributing to the wider studies of contemporary Japanese media.