Katakana characters are characterized by squarish lines and are the simplest of the Japanese scripts.
Katakana are used for:
- Emphasis, like italics in English.
- Onomatopoeia, for example hii ヒー means "sigh".
- Names of animal and plant species.
- Transliteration of words from foreign languages (called gairaigo 外来語) except Chinese. For example, "television" is written terebi テレビ. Foreign phrases are usually transliterated with a middle dot separating the words.
If you have a font set including Japanese characters, you can view the following charts of katakana together with their Hepburn romanization.
The first kana system called man'yōgana was invented in the Heian period (9th century), reportedly by the Buddhist priest Kūkai who brought the Siddham script to Japan on his return from China in 806. He believed that Japanese would be better represented by a phonetic alphabet than by the kanji. The present set of kana was codified in 1900, and rules for their usage in 1946.
Table of katakana
|The first chart sets out the standard katakana (characters in red are obsolete):|
|ア a||イ i||ウ u||エ e||オ o|
|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|
|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|
|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|
The second chart sets out modern additions to the katakana. These are used mainly to represent the sounds in words in other languages.
|ウィ wi||ウェ we||ウォ wo|
|ヴァ va||ヴィ vi||ヴ vu||ヴェ ve||ヴォ vo|
|ティ ti||トゥ tu|
|ディ di||ドゥ du|
|ツァ tsa||ツィ tsi||ツェ tse||ツォ tso|
|ファ fa||フィ fi||フェ fe||フォ fo|
Katakana are also sometimes used to write the Ainu language; there, consonants without a following vowel are indicated by writing the symbol for consonant+u (in the case of sh, consonant+i) small. Thus, for instance, a small プ represents p.Register at the Japan Forum to discuss this topic. Or leave us a comment below. Please note that your comment will have to be approved before being displayed and that images and hyperlinks will not be shown.
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