Japanese Katakana 1-24About Japanese Katakana

The complete Japanese katakana consists of "48" characters

Katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana,kanji, and in some cases the Latin alphabet (rōmaji). The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana scripts are derived from components of more complex kanji. Each kana represents one mora. Each kana is either a vowel such as "a"; a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka"; or "n", a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n, or ng ([ŋ]), or like the nasal vowels of French.

Unlike the hiragana syllabary which is used for Japanese language words and grammatical inflections which kanji does not cover, the katakana syllabary is primarily used for transcription of foreign language words into Japanese and the writing of loan words (collectively gairaigo), as well as to represent onomatopoeia, technical and scientific terms, and the names of plants, animals, and minerals. Names of Japanese companies as well as certain Japanese language words are also written in katakana rather than the other systems.

Japanese Katakana


Japanese Katakana Usage

In modern Japanese, katakana is most often used for transcription of words from foreign languages except Chinese(called gairaigo). For example, "television" is written terebi. Similarly, katakana is usually used for country names, foreign places, and foreign personal names. For example, the United States is usually referred to as Amerika, rather than in its ateji kanji spelling of Amerika.

Katakana are also used for onomatopoeia,words used to represent sounds – for example, pinpon, the "ding-dong" sound of a doorbell.

Technical and scientific terms, such as the names of animal and plant species and minerals, are also commonly written in katakana. Homo sapiens (Homo sapiensu), as a species, is written hito, rather than its kanji hito.

Katakana are also often, but not always, used for transcription of Japanese company names. Katakana are also used for emphasis, especially on signs, advertisements, and hoardings (i.e., billboards). For example, it is common to see koko ("here"), gomi ("trash"), or megane ("glasses"). Words the writer wishes to emphasize in a sentence are also sometimes written in katakana, mirroring the European usage of italics.

Pre-World War II official documents mix katakana and kanji in the same way that hiragana and kanji are mixed in modern Japanese texts, that is, katakana were used for okurigana and particles.

Katakana were also used for telegrams in Japan before 1988, and for computer systems—before the introduction of multibyte characters—in the 1980s. Most computers in that era used katakana instead of kanji or hiragana for output.

Katakana are used to indicate the on'yomi (Chinese-derived readings) of a kanji in a kanji dictionary. For instance, the kanji hito (person) has a Japanese pronunciation, written in hiragana as hito (person), as well as a Chinese derived pronunciation, written in katakana as jin (used to denote groups of people). Katakana are sometimes used instead of hiragana as furigana to give the pronunciation of a word written in Roman characters, or for a foreign word, which is written as kanji for the meaning, but intended to be pronounced as the original.

Katakana are also sometimes used to indicate words being spoken in a foreign or otherwise unusual accent, by foreign characters, robots, etc. For example, in a manga, the speech of a foreign character or a robot may be represented by konnichiwa ("hello") instead of the more typical hiragana konnichiwa. Some Japanese personal names are written in katakana. This was more common in the past, hence elderly women often have katakana names.

Katakana is also used for traditional musical notations, as in the Tozan-ryū of shakuhachi, and in sankyoku ensembles with koto, shamisen, and shakuhachi.