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Japanese katakana syllabary are one of the three alphabets that make up the Japanese language: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. The Katakana, like the Hiragana, are divided into two tables and contain at all five vowels. I give you here an explanation of what are the Japanese Katakana and their tables.
Japanese Katakana, what is it?
The Katakana (understand kana fragment片仮名) are, like the Japanese Hiragana, derived by isolation of a portion of homophone kanji, and may have arisen after the Hiragana.
Basically they were used by Buddhist students to transcribe the pronunciation of unknown Chinese kanji.
Japanese Katakana: when and how to use them?
For many people, Katakana means words of American origin. This is partly true at present, but not totally. Indeed, Katakana are used to write in Japanese for the following situations:
- The words of foreign origin (not only the words from American origin) except the words from Chinese origin that are not considered as foreign words.
- France: FURANSU フランス
- United States of America: AMERIKA アメリカ
- Beer: BIRU ビール
- The onomatopés or short words trying to convey emotion:
- Cocorico: KOKEKOKKO コケコッコ
- Squish: PEKOPEKO ペコペコ
- The scientific literature and animal names:
- Dolphin: IRUKA イルカ
- Monkey: SARU サル
- Provide a special effect to a Japanese word. One can for example make a word less “hard” by writing it in Katakana. This is the case for example for the word DAME: which literally means “not possible” but that can be interpreted as being too direct or too rough.
The composition of the Japanese Katakana:
Just as Hiragana, Katakana use the same rules of writing:
- We will add a DAKUTEN ゛which will effectively change the deaf consonants in voiced consonants
- By adding a HANDAKUTEN ゜you will transfrom the sound H in P sound
- Adding a small tsu ツ will effectively double the following consonant. If the next consonants is a P, you will read it PP
- By affixing a small YA, YO, YU ad the sound of the reading will be transformed. For example if you have a NI+YA you will read it Nya
- A horizontal line like this one ー will elongated pronunciation of vowels
- The Japanese language does not have a set of sounds sufficiently broad to pronounce all the words of foreign languages, a new charter of sounds was created using Katakana, giving sounds like ファfa, フィ fi, フェ fe, フォ fo.
- The letter V does not exist in the Japanese language, Katakana is used instead and therefore gives the following sounds: . But however, the Japanese do not use them that much and prefer to use sounds BA, BI, BU, BE, and BO instead.
- Finally transcribe foreign words in Katakana are very numerous, especially those of English origin. This just give us the following kind of words:
- Ready : レディ
- Lady : レディ
- Top : トップ
- Christmas : クリスマス
You will realize that foreign words are pronounced in a Japanese way and is not the original one. Ultimately this may cause some misunderstanding as to the words Ready and Lady, who in Japanese are pronounced is the same way (the Japanese R is pronounced like an L, which does not exist).
Tables of Japanese Katakana:
1st chart table: SEION & DAKUON
2nd Chart Table of Katakana: YOON COMBINATIONS
3rd Chart table of Japanese Katakana: The new method