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If you have studied languages such as Japanese, you have probably encountered the symbol “○○”.

I am told that there are two purposes for “○○”.

  1. To act as a placeholder for whatever word you like.
  2. To partially or completely censor a word that may cause offence or copyright infringement.

Personally, for (1), I use “X” in English, because that is what people use in algebra. For (2), I use “****” in English, because that seems to be one of the ways to censor a word.

What symbols are customarily used for “○○” in English?

Edit:

Alright, let's try some examples.

  1. 「○○にお茶がありますか」(English: “Is there tea on the X?”)
  2. 「○○な場所がありますか」(English: “Is there a place where it is X?”)
  3. 「ウ○クの方の、中○、韓○嫌いは異常」(English: “The r-ers’ hatred toward Chi** and Ko*** is unusual.”)

I hope that helps!

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    This question seems to be a duplicate of several questions, namely english.stackexchange.com/q/192145/191178 and english.stackexchange.com/q/377319/191178. As such you need to focus this on a single use case that’s not answered by either of those.
    – Laurel
    Mar 6, 2021 at 3:20
  • I don't understand your purpose 1. Who is the "you", and on what basis are "you" to make "your" choice?
    – Rosie F
    Mar 6, 2021 at 7:24
  • Also see this question about redacted words in novels english.stackexchange.com/questions/9479/… I agree btw with @Laurel that the OP’s question covers too many things.
    – k1eran
    Mar 6, 2021 at 11:16
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    Translated examples would be useful here. To restrict the question to those who have studied Japanese seems unduly limiting.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 6, 2021 at 11:51

1 Answer 1

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What symbols are customarily used for “○○” in English?

As you point out, the asterisk is used in English as censorship: "He's a f* * * ing idiot! I hate the t * * t." (It is usual, but not necessary, to have as many asterisks as there are hidden letters.) (NB, there is no space between the asterisks - it is simply that the formatting uses asterisks for other purposes.)

The blank / underscore is used to hide an identity "Mr ______ from _____ made some comments about the French." (This is now old-fashioned.)

The blank / underscore is also used in questions as a place holder for an answer "I never _____(to see) the incident."

Square brackets with ellipsis are used to indicate missing and unimportant words "The law states that "Any person [...] who [...] drives sheep, [...] across the bridge must pay a toll of £1.00" This might represent "Any person being an adult who herds, moves, conducts or drives sheep, cows, geese, goats, horses across the bridge must pay a toll of £1.00"

I am not sure what you mean by "whatever word you like" is a valid description, e.g. "[.......] is rather large" will only work with a restricted number of words, rather than "any I might like".

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  • My mistake, I'm sorry! I should have said, “Where a number of words can be inserted.” For example, “Is there tea on the ____?” You could insert “table”, “stove”, “counter”, “tray”, etc. Again, I'm sorry for the poor description! Mar 7, 2021 at 1:49

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