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Katakana characters

Many Katakana characters are used for the signs.Many Katakana characters are used for the signs.

Katakana is a character set for Japanese, but it is the special character set.
It is mainly used for notation of foreign words.

Japanese has absorbed a lot of foreign words since ancient times.

The words from ancient China are written in Kanji character.

On the other hand, the words from Western languages using alphabet are written in this Katakana.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Portugal and Netherlands came to Japan for searching new colony or trading.
At that time, many new words of advanced European things are imported to Japanese.

In the 19th century, when Japan became a modern nation, the words about medical science and philosophy were imported from Germany and the words about art were imported from France.

From the 20th century until now, a lot of English words in various genres have been imported to Japanese.

Until the middle of the 20th century, many Japanese words of Kanji characters corresponding to new Western words were created.

But after WW2, increasing foreign words were too much to create new Japanese words.
Therefore, they have been written by Katakana as detectable by Japanese ear.

For example, telephone became common in the 20th century.
Japanese created a word “denwa” for the telephone.
“Den” means "electricity" and “wa” means "talk".

“Internet”, “blog”, etc. are used in this century, but they have no Japanese word.
They are written in only Katakana.

In addition to this, Katakana is used as follows.

  • Foreign country name and place name
  • Name of foreigner
  • Name of organisms and mineral
  • Expression of noise and animal call

About the names of animals, plants and mineral familiar to us, they are written rather by Kanji and Hiragana.
But when we write about them as biological topic, they are written by Katakana.

Table of Katakana

The following tables include all Katakana characters.

As you can see, all Katakana characters correspond to Japanese syllable like Hiragana.
(Please read the page of Pronunciation of Japanese language.
The orange-colored and green-colored parts are the syllables that the pronunciation has been changed for a long time.)

Seion Group
a
i
u
e
o
ka
ki
ku
ke
ko
kya
キャ
kyu
キョ
kyo
キョ
sa
shi
su
se
so
sha
シャ
shu
シュ
sho
ショ
ta
chi
tsu
te
to
cha
チャ
chu
チュ
cho
チョ
na
ni
nu
ne
no
nya
ニャ
nyu
ニュ
nyo
ニョ
ha
hi
fu
he
ho
hya
ヒャ
hyu
ヒュ
hyo
ヒョ
ma
mi
mu
me
mo
mya
ミャ
myu
ミュ
myo
ミョ
ya
yu
yo
ra
ri
ru
re
ro
rya
リャ
ryu
リュ
ryo
リョ
wa
o
n
Dakuon Group
ga
gi
gu
ge
go
gya
ギャ
gyu
ギュ
gyo
ギョ
za
ji
zu
ze
zo
ja
ジャ
ju
ジュ
jo
ジョ
da
ji
zu
de
do
ja
ヂャ
ju
ヂュ
jo
ヂョ
ba
bi
bu
be
bo
bya
ビャ
byu
ビュ
byo
ビョ
pa
pi
pu
pe
po
pya
ピャ
pyu
ピュ
pyo
ピョ

Basically, Katakana is written as detectable sounds by Japanese ear.
Therefore, we must write even the sounds which are not in Japanese.

For the purpose, some combinations of Katakana are prepared.
The below table includes such characters.

Notation for foreign language
la
li
lu
le
lo
fa
ファ
fi
フィ
fu
fe
フェ
fo
フォ
va

ヴァ
vi

ヴィ
vu

ve

ヴェ
vo

ヴォ
ya
yi
yu
ye
イェ
yo
wa
wi
ウィ
wu
we
ウェ
wo
ウォ
si
スィ
she
シェ
zi
ズィ
je
ジェ
ti
ティ
tu
トゥ
che
チェ
di
ディ
du
ドゥ

There is not "L" sound in Japanese.
So, it is written using "R" sound.

"Long" and "wrong" are the same in the notation of Japanese.

And, there are special characters for "V" sound.
But the characters with "B" sound are more often used than such characters.

Details of Katakana

Akihabara in Tokyo is a big electronics quarter. So you can find many Katakana characters in the town.Akihabara in Tokyo is a big electronics quarter. So you can find many Katakana characters in the town.

Katakana was created in ancient times by taking a part of a Kanji character with similar Chinese sound were selected.
Therefore, the form of character is rectilinear and angular.

Katakana is a character set different from Hiragana, so you must learn this as an unique character set.

About long vowel, the bar character like a hyphen is written just after the vowel which is pronounced long.

But, Japanese can be written vertically.
At that time, the bar character is written vertically.

The followings are the examples of the word written in Katanaka.

America = amerika = アメリカ
blog = burogu = ブログ
internet = intânetto = インターネット
elevator = erebêtâ = エレベーター
violin = baiorin / vaiorin = バイオリン / ヴァイオリン

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