中央公論 = The Central review. (OCLC #3760507)

One of my hobbies: inexpertly sounding out the katakana used for foreign names in Japanese works.

  • ミ – mi
  • ック – kku
  • ・ – (interpunct, for word boundary)
  • ジャ – ja
  • ガー – gā

Mikku jagā = Mick Jagger!


バイオポリティクス : 人体を管理するとはどういうことか / 米本昌平著. (OCLC #70234581)

If you are copy cataloging Japanese books (and don’t know much Japanese) you may be able to search for titles or authors quickly if you recognize characters in the simpler alphabets (hiragana or katakana) among the more complex characters (kanji).

Books often use characters in all three alphabets, but you can quickly learn to spot hiragana and katakana, as they are much simpler characters – you can also study and learn them, as they are (compared to kanji) very small alphabets. With practice, words can be typed/pasted into a search box, either by copying and pasting characters from a table, or using tools that allow you to type phonetically.

Katakana characters look more angular than hiragana, and are used for (among other things) foreign, borrowed, or technical/scientific words, so you may see them in names of foreign authors or in titles of science/technology books. As katakana characters are phonetic, you may even be able to guess a word’s meaning by sounding it out.

This particular title proper is romanized “Baioporitikusu”, meaning “Biopolitics”.


莫言研究三十年 = Mo Yan study : from 1980s to 2010s / 主编杨守森, 贺立华 ; 执行主编丛新强, 孙书文. (OCLC #844719198)

When there are only three volumes in a Chinese or Japanese set, it may be enumerated using these characters instead of numbers:

  • 上 – (first)
  • 中 – (middle, shown above)
  • 下 – (last)

In my library, we label these on the spine with v.1, v.2, v.3 respectively.

If a set only has two volumes, it may only use 上 and 下.