Can you make up your own diphthongs or are they ready-made?

so when i was learning hiragana & katakana the app i was using (skitter) had some diphthongs such fyi, fye so I thought those were all of them. but today in another app (fluent forever) i ran into words like “Tsar” written in katakana & フをーク (the をlooks smaller so i think it’s a diphthong :thinking:)…so you can make up diphthongs as you go along or are they standardized?

フィ and フェ?

ツァー and フォーク, I presume?

There’s also other ones like シェ (the “she” sound in “Shelley”) or トゥ (the “tu” sound in “tomorrow”).

Yeah, there’s a lot of new-ish combinations that exist only in katakana. These were added to official Japanese usage during the script reform in 1946, which is comparatively quite recently, but the addition was essentially just making forms that were already in casual usage into the proper canon.

You shouldn’t need to coin any new ones yourself that haven’t already been coined, but Japanese people would probably be able to understand what you were getting at fairly easily if you did. Did you have any particular ones in mind?


yep those…not any particular ones; was just confused cause i don’t understand why i wasn’t taught all possible combinations? thought maybe there is a rule to learn.

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As far as I know, the mini kana (usually a vowel sound or Y + vowel) just takes the place of the original vowel in the kana, or, perhaps more accurately, is just meant to be pronounced as part of a diphthong, like you said. Very occasionally (usually when the mini kana just repeats the large kana’s vowel sound), the vowel is lengthened. That’s about it. I can’t think of any other combinations right now.

They’re fairly uncommon, the sources you’re learning from might have chosen to focus on more useful ones? They only appear in certain loanwords (and even then, those words could be expressed without using them). General rule of thumb is that the big kana (usually from the u-rank unless there’s some irregularity like ts- or sh- or ch-) gives the consonant value, and then a vowel or y- kana to indicate which vowel or diphthong it gets. The only one I can think of that doesn’t do that is getting v- kana by putting dakuten on ウ.

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My katakana name uses this, and it makes me sad because I can never find stickers with the little ェ

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You might also encounter dakuten on things that don’t usually have them, like vowels… but that is very non-standard usage, probably only for effect in manga and such.

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The one and only exception (I think) being ゔ・ヴ for V sounds, which was already mentioned above. (I figured I’d just type it in case OP’s never seen it before.)

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