Error in the WK correct writing of ビー玉


#1

One is supposed to answer in hiragana. The correct hiragana translation of ビー is びい . The long ー is the katakana convention for long vowels. However, びいだま is considered as wrong and びーだま , which is neither hiragana nor katakana nor whatever is given as a ‘right’ answer.


#2

Says who? It takes both.

The fact that WK accepts hiragana and katakana interchangeably is merely for typing convenience. And you are incorrect that the vowel lengthener is never used with hiragana. らーめん is something you’ll see from time to time.


#3

That doesn’t justify calling びいだま wrong.
Moreover, long i and e are indicated by an extra い in normal hiragana writing…maybe not in the vitrine of some restaurants… but advertising business and the like never care much about correct writing.


#4

I’m not sure びいだま is accepted orthography anywhere, but if you can show them it is, I’m sure they’d consider it through an email suggestion to hello@wanikani.com

Currently, they are asking for ビーだま from the user. They just happen to not mark answers wrong for replacing katakana with hiragana, so it is coincidentally possible to enter びーだま, but they’re not necessarily endorsing that either.

For what it’s worth, searching びーだま gets you the correct entry in a monolingual dictionary. びいだま returns nothing. At least in the one I’m looking at.


#5

My dictionary can’t handle びい玉 either, but I do see it every once in awhile. Though it might be rare enough they don’t want to put it in as an option.


#6

yeah, i always entered びーだま because i was using the inbuilt IME and it was an extra step to write ビーだま if i used the computer’s IME i would sometimes end up with ビー玉 which they call wrong because you’ve got the kanji in it.
there are circumstances where you need to write ー to create kanji…
頁(ページ)
麻婆豆腐(マーボーどうふ)
etc, where if you type
まあぼおどうふ you don’t get the option to change it to the kanji.
(however, i just realised that you can type ぺえじ to get 頁)
(ビイ玉 but this is what happens if you type びいだま - it doens’t give you the proper form)


#7

In spite of some exceptions like とおか, the standard way to make a long お in hiragana is not an extra お but an う after the o bearing syllable. If I write まあぼうどうふ, my IME indeed converts to the correct kanji:麻婆豆腐.


#8

Technically it’s wrong, but it’s also right at the same time. The “ビー” part in ビー玉 is the shortened version of ビードロ (vidro), the Portuguese word for glass, and as a foreign word, it is written in katakana. However, since WK primarily expects hiragana input, it also accepts the hiragana conversion of the word.
Now why isn’t it “びいだま” then? The reason is that it is a conversion from katakana. This isn’t the only said “illegal” conversion, that is, a word that shouldn’t exist in hiragana in the first place. There are several syllables that only exist in katakana, yet they often find their way into hiragana-written words as well. That’s how we get syllables like ふぇ (fe), ふぃ (fi), うぇ (we), etc., that should not be used in the hiragana set, but in case for some reason it is more practical to use hiragana in a text instead of katakana (like in WK), then these kinds of conversions appear.
The same applies to the long vowel sign. In case we are talking about a forced katakana -> hiragana conversion (like now), that sign remains in place.

Having said all that, I also kept messing up ビー玉 and used い instead of ー.


#9

Actually, any Portuguese word older than 1945 likely existed in Hiragana for hundreds of years longer than the katakana version. There’s a reason たばこ, 天ぷら and 襦袢 are common. The whole “foreign words are Katakana thing” didn’t exist until after the war.


#10

A colleague told me that the ビー in ビー玉 used to be a factory classification, so there was originally A玉 as well as B玉. It may even be true.


#11

i completely forgot about that tbh


#12

You can use Caps Lock in the built-in IME to write in katakana.


#13

thanks!!!


#14

Thank you for the correction.


#15

There is a paragraph about that in the Japanese Wikipedia, which I don’t have the time to try and translate, but you might well be right.