From Academic Kids

Template:Japanese writing Katakana (片仮名, literally: "partial kana") are a Japanese syllabary, one of four Japanese writing systems (the others are hiragana, kanji and rōmaji).

Katakana are characterized by squarish lines and are the simplest of the Japanese scripts.

Katakana are used for, for example:

  • Onomatopoeia, for example hii ヒー means "sigh".
  • Names of animal and plant species.
  • Transcription of words from non-Chinese foreign languages (called gairaigo). For example, "television" is written terebi テレビ. Foreign phrases are usually transliterated with a middle dot separating the words.
  • Emphasis, like italics in English. In this case they may indicate "words spoken with a foreign accent".
  • As furigana, giving 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.
  • For the on'yomi of a kanji in a kanji dictionary.

Katakana spelling differs slightly from hiragana. While hiragana spells long vowels with the addition of a second vowel kana, katakana uses a vowel extender mark. This mark is a short line following the direction of the text (horizontal in horizontal text, vertical in columns).


Hepburn romanization of katakana

If you have a font including Japanese characters, you can view the following charts of katakana together with their Hepburn romanization (otherwise visit the page for hiragana). The first chart sets out the standard katakana (characters in red are obsolete).

ア a イ i ウ u エ e オ o (ya) (yu) (yo)
カ ka キ ki ク ku ケ ke コ ko キャ kya キュ kyu キョ kyo
サ sa シ shi ス su セ se ソ so シャ sha シュ shu ショ sho
タ ta チ chi ツ tsu テ te ト to チャ cha チュ chu チョ cho
ナ na ニ ni ヌ nu ネ ne ノ no ニャ nya ニュ nyu ニョ nyo
ハ ha ヒ hi フ fu ヘ he ホ ho ヒャ hya ヒュ hyu ヒョ hyo
マ ma ミ mi ム mu メ me モ mo ミャ mya ミュ myu ミョ myo
ヤ ya ユ yu ヨ yo
ラ ra リ ri ル ru レ re ロ ro リャ rya リュ ryu リョ ryo
ワ wa ヰ wi ヱ we ヲ wo
ン n
ガ ga ギ gi グ gu ゲ ge ゴ go ギャ gya ギュ gyu ギョ gyo
ザ za ジ ji ズ zu ゼ ze ゾ zo ジャ ja ジュ ju ジョ jo
ダ da ヂ (ji) ヅ (zu) デ de ド do ヂャ (ja) ヂュ (ju) ヂョ (jo)
バ ba ビ bi ブ bu ベ be ボ bo ビャ bya ビュ byu ビョ byo
パ pa ピ pi プ pu ペ pe ポ po ピャ pya ピュ pyu ピョ pyo

Below are modern additions to the katakana, used mainly to represent sounds from other languages.

イェ ye
ウィ wi ウェ we ウォ wo
ヷ va ヸ vi ヹ ve ヺ vo
ヴァ va ヴィ vi ヴ vu ヴェ ve ヴォ vo
シェ she
ジェ je
チェ che
ティ ti トゥ tu
テュ tyu
ディ di ドゥ du
デュ dyu
ツァ tsa ツィ tsi ツェ tse ツォ tso
ファ fa フィ fi フェ fe フォ fo
フュ fyu


Katakana was developed from parts of man'yōgana characters to indicate kanji pronunciation (furigana) in kanbun. For example, ka カ comes from the left side of ka 加 "increase". The figure below shows the derivation of katakana from man'yōgana:


Up until a series of orthographic reforms immediately following World War II, katakana was used for okurigana in official documents, and frequently in other contexts.

Katakana in Unicode

In Unicode, fullwidth katakana occupy code points U+30A0 to U+30FF [1] (http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U30A0.pdf):


Additionally, halfwidth equivalents to the standard fullwidth katakana are provided, primarily for round-trip conversion compatibility with older Japanese character sets. These are encoded within the Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms block (U+FF00U+FFEF) [2] (http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/UFF00.pdf), starting at U+FF65 and ending at U+FF9F (characters U+FF60U+FF64 are fullwidth punctuation marks):

FF7 ソ

Katakana for the Ainu language

Katakana is sometimes used to write the Ainu language. Syllables that end with a consonant are represented by a small version of the katakana that corresponds to the consonant and the preceding vowel. For instance "up" is represented by ウㇷ゚ (u followed by small pu). In Unicode, Katakana Phonetic Extensions exist for Ainu language support [3] (http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U31F0.pdf). These characters are used mainly for the Ainu language only:


See also

ca:Katakana cs:Katakana de:Japanisches Schriftsystem#Katakana es:Katakana fi:Katakana fr:Katakana he:קאטאקאנה id:Katakana it:Katakana ja:片仮名 ko:가타카나 ms:Katakana nl:Katakana pl:Katakana pt:Katakana ru:Катакана sl:Katakana sr:Катакана sv:Katakana th:คะตะคะนะ zh:片假名


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