Katakana

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Japanese writing makes use of four symbols sets: two syllabaries (Katakana and Hiragana), a set of ideograms called Kanji borrowed from Chinese, and Romaji, the Roman alphabet (and Arabic numerals). Katakana (片仮名) is characterized by hard lines and is used to represent foreign words, and also onomatopaeic words. It is also used for emphasis, much like using all uppercase letters in English.

While Katakana is used most frequently to represent foreign words, it is often limited in its ability to represent them as they sound in the language in question. This is due to the syllabic nature of the phonemes. This is of no concern to the Japanese, who prefer pronouncing foreign concepts in their own way anyway. For example, to pronounce "McDonald's" the name of a popular fast food chain, you would say "ma ku do na ru do". Many English words pronounced in Katakana are indecipherable to native English speakers.

Katakana Characters
CharacterNameCharacterNameCharacterNameCharacterNameCharacterName
Small A KO DU PU RA
A GO TE HE RI
Small I SA DE BE RU
I ZA TO PE RE
Small U SI DO HO RO
U ZI NA BO Small WA
Small E SU NI PO WA
E ZU NU MA WI
Small O SE NE MI WE
O ZE NO MU WO
KA SO HA ME N
GA ZO BA MO VU
KI TA PA Small YA Small KA
GI DA HI YA Small KE
KU TI BI Small YU VA
GU DI PI YU VI
KE Small TU HU Small YO VE
GE TU BU YO VO
Punctuation
CharacterName
Katakana Middle Dot
Katakana-Hiragana Prolonged Sound Mark
Katakana Iteration Mark
Katakana Voiced Iteration Mark

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