U 30 A0 .. U 30 FF

The Katakana (Japanese片 仮 名orカタカナ) is a syllabary ( More precisely font ) of the Japanese language. She is the second Japanese More font next to Hiragana. Moreover, in the Japanese writing system still Chinese characters are used in this context refers as Kanji.

Each katakana character is as Syllabogramm either a vowel or a consonant for the following vowel, with the exception of the later addedンcharacter that represents a nasal sound at the end of a syllable.

The Katakana were from Chinese characters, more Man'yōgana, developed by strokes were omitted from a character with the corresponding reading. Katakana are therefore only one to four straight or slightly curved lines and sharp angles, and usually differ from typeface significantly from the soft, rounded hiragana.

The Katakana are arranged according to the 50 - lute - board. The Iroha, a poem in which occur every fifty original syllables is instead used only rarely.

Syllables or More font?

In Japanese, the phonologically relevant unit suprasegementale not the syllable, but the More (eg, not the syllables are counted in Haiku and Tanka, but Moren ). Japanese Moren consist of a short vowel or a consonant and a short vowel prävokalischen or from a mere postvokalischen consonants in syllable initial. Syllables with long vowels or consonants in syllable initial postvokalischem are zweimorig.

This syllable phonological property of the Japanese is also considered in Katakana and Hiragana: The More a character. In kurzvokalischen open syllables, the More the syllable corresponds to (hence the Japanese More fonts are often inaccurately referred to as syllabic scripts ).

To display a long vowel a diacritic (the choon ) hand and double hand in the Hiragana letters the sign for the short vowel, so that the first " short vowel " belongs to the first and the second to the second More in the katakana letters. A postvokalischer consonant in the syllable output forms a More for itself and is represented by its own character. A two-syllable form must then be represented by two, three or four characters, depending on the number of moras.


This table shows the Katakana and the associated Hepburn romanization. Transcriptions in light red are outdated, transcriptions in green are modern innovations, which are mainly used to represent the pronunciation of foreign languages ​​. Learning from Katakana can sometimes be difficult, since some characters resemble strong. shiシandツtsu, for example, or soソandンn differ only in the stroke direction. ( The differences are more evident when the symbols are drawn with a writing brush. )


In the Meiji period Katakana were still used to write particles and grammatical endings ( Okurigana ), especially in official documents. This role took over the hiragana in the modern Japanese.

The most common use in modern Japanese is the transcription of foreign words ( Gairaigo ) and foreign names. Such is the common name for television,テレビterebi, an abbreviation of the French " télévision ". Angela Merkel is reproduced asアンゲラ·メルケルangera · merukeru.

In some verbs the root word in katakana is written. These verbs, mostly from the youth language are derived from foreign words. An example isサボるsaboru, " truant " is derived from "Sabotage".

In kanji dictionaries on- reading ( s) of a character in Katakana, the Kun - reading ( s) are given in Hiragana for clarity. However, this convention is limited to dictionaries; if words or ancient Japanese Chinese origin whose Kanji today are rare or uncommon, occurring in continuous texts, as both On- and Kun - readings are written as hiragana.

In manga, the many onomatopoeic expressions in katakana written (with exceptions in Hiragana ).

Terms that are written with rare Chinese characters, ie characters that do not belong to the 1945 Jōyō Kanji are also often written in katakana. In some cases, only one character is replaced by a compound of katakana. This is common in particular in medical terms. The word " dermatology " (皮肤科, hifuka ) the second character肤is considered difficult, which is why hifuka is usually written using Katakana皮フ科orヒフ 科. Also the character癌gan, "cancer" is often written in hiragana or katakana. Animals, plants and minerals are also often written with rare kanji, and are therefore often reflect the simplification in katakana. Nevertheless Many sushi restaurants use kanji for each fish species.

Japanese family often use the last name in katakana as company names, including today's large enterprises Suzuki (スズキ) and Toyota (トヨタ).

Katakana are used in the written language as well as eye-catching and for emphasis, especially on signs. Common examples areココkoko (here) ,ゴミgomi ( garbage ) andメガネmegane ( glasses). In advertisements, individual phrases in Katakana be set, for exampleヨロシクyoroshiku.

Telegrams were also written in Japan before 1988 only in Katakana. Even Japanese computers could only katakana in the 1980s before the introduction of multi - byte characters.

Characters that are placed over the kanji to indicate pronunciation ( furigana ), are usually held in Hiragana. If the debate is to be but not Japanese, but English, Chinese or another language, Katakana be used instead. Thus one finds, for example, on the shortcut JR ( Japan Railways ) the small letteringジェイ アール( jei ARU), which indicates the pronunciation of the abbreviation.

A number of Chinese dishes that came to Japan in the 20th century, although written with Chinese characters, but the pronunciation is not the Sino Japanese On- reading, but the Cantonese or the standard Chinese. On the packaging at the grocery store the names of the products are mostly written in Chinese characters, but the reading indicated additionally in katakana. For convenience, you can often get away the characters and writes these words only in Katakana:

  • ウーロン茶(乌龙茶) ūroncha ( oolong tea)
  • チャーハン(炒饭) Chahan, ( fried rice )
  • チャーシュー(叉 焼) chashu, siu of Cantonese Char grilled pork
  • シューマイ(焼 売), shumai, of Cantonese siu maai, a dim sum version.
  • ラーメン(拉 麺), Ramen

In Manga Katakana are also sometimes used to indicate that something is said with a foreign or otherwise strange accent. So a robotコンニチワ( konnichi wa) instead of the usual lettersこんにちはcould say in Hiragana. The square shape of the Katakana is intended to give a visual impression of the debate.

In the postwar period it was fashionable, children, especially girls, to give name in katakana letters, so that older women often bear the names in katakana. It also foreign names that sound good in Japanese asマリアmaria andエリカerika were used.

Katakana are used in traditional Japanese music for the case of the notes, for example, in the Tozan School of Shakuhachi, and in sankyoku ensembles consisting of koto, shamisen and shakuhachi.


The katakana spelling is slightly different from the usual in Hiragana. Only in the katakana there is the Längungsstrich for vowels (ー), Japanese Choon, a second vowel is instead written in Hiragana. This dictionary scheme will however not be taken as accurate in daily use. There are frequently seen signs where, for example, the word Ramen in Hiragana with Längungsstrich is (らーめん). And although the Längungsstrich supposed to be restricted to loan words, sometimes purely Japanese words in katakana written with Längungsstrich, so it will not really stand out among the many special terms, for exampleローソク(蝋 烛rōsoku, "candle" ) orケータイ(携 帯Ketai " mobile phone" ).

If the font set vertically ( tategaki ), also the Längungsstrich is vertical. In this form it is also good from the characters ichi (一) to distinguish "one", as the One is a horizontal line even with vertical notation. In the Hepburn transcription of the prolonged vowel is written with a macron (¯ ).

As with the Hiragana a small tsu (ッ), a so-called sokuon is written in order to double the following consonant ( gemination ). In the transcription of the consonant is doubled. The English word "bed " in Japaneseベッドis, therefore, as Beddo transcribed back.

The problem with the katakana spelling is that Katakana only can play back the sound limited supply of Japanese, which is why it is not always easy, zurückzuschließen from a katakana spelling of the foreign word. Although there are guidelines, a number of terms in different forms have been established; the phonetically very similar "towel " and " tower" are reproduced as TawaタオルTaoru orタワー. In German name particularly rich consonant syllables are problematic. Loanwords that contain too many syllables, like abbreviated in Japanese, it is "sexual harassment" toセクハラsekuhara.

A whole series of vowels and consonants is difficult to implement in katakana.

  • The velar voiceless fricative, ie the "ch" in German words like " Bach" is shown in the katakana transcriptionッ ha. The composer Johann Sebastian Bach is thereforeヨハン· ·ゼバスティアンバッハyohan · · zebasuteian bahha written.
  • R and L do not differ. The Japanese "r" is phonetically somewhere between the German and the English L R.
  • The German umlauts ä, ö and ü have no equivalent in Japanese. The "ä" is usually rendered as "e", the " ö" helps you with "e" (ケーラーKERA for Köhler ) or "u" (パス ツールpasutsūru for " Pasteur " ), the " ü" is yu (リュプケryupuke for " Luebke " ) replaced.
  • Other examples of the difficulty in transcription of names according to katakana are "Khrushchev"フルシチョフ( Furushichofu ), Ali Khameneiアリー·ハーメネイー(ARI Hāmeneī ), Itzhak Perlmanイツハク·パールマン( Itsuhaku Pāruman ).

For Japanese transcription of names, however, has a distinct advantage: The Katakana specify an easily comprehensible pronunciation for them, even if it is far away from the original. Name in Latin letters, however, are anything but clear: When Europeans to develop, although some feel for whether a name in English, French, German, Polish, Spanish, or as is also always speak and how it should sound about. For Japanese, this represents a hurdle that is about as high as the name in Chinese characters for Europeans.

Since there are no spaces in the Japanese writing system, is to separate words in a block katakana instead a center point ( · ) is set, japanese nakaguro (中 黒). An example is the separation of first name and last name for foreign names.

Stroke order


The Katakana were developed in the early Heian period from the Manyogana that originally served to mark the pronunciation of a character in Kanbun texts. For characters that had been established as a marker of a particular debate, individual elements were then omitted for simplicity. " Add " So, from加, read ka, by omitting the element口the katakanaカ.

Only later went on to write characters in the usual in Japanese word order and append the inflectional endings of verbs. The Chinese know as isolating language no flexion.


Katakana exist in most pleadings in full (全 角Zenkaku, Eng. Full-width ) and half-width (半角Hankaku, Eng. Half- width ). The katakana in half-width were introduced by the 8-bit JIS X 0201 standard in 1969, the Katakana are at the extended range from 0x80, beyond the ASCII characters. Since in the extended area was only room for 128 characters, only the Katakana were implemented by the Japanese writing system. Katakana ( square ) were traditionally as Chinese characters written in square blocks. However, the former pleadings provided for a fixed character width of half square, which is why a katakana font was developed, which was only half as wide. This made it possible to write with an 8bit Briefs Japanese, even if had to be dispensed with Hiragana and Kanji.

In the late 1970s, then two-byte font sets such as JIS X 0208 were developed which made ​​it possible with their character space of more than 65,000 characters to write hiragana, katakana and kanji, and thus the Japanese writing fully digital display. In addition, the pleadings allowed characters in the full em - width. JIS X 0208 character now introduced a second room for katakana in the full width. This Katakana were not only in the font twice as wide, but also in the digitization, as they were stored in two bytes.

This historical development is also the reason why there is Half -width Katakana, but no Half -width Hiragana.

Despite all efforts to abolish this actually unnecessary duplication Half -width Katakana are still in various systems in use. The track display for mini discs for example, uses the JIS X 0201 encoding similar and can only be ASCII and half-width Katakana. Half -width Katakana can also be found in electronic cash registers and DVD subtitles. The most common Japanese character sets such as EUC -JP ( Extended Unix Code s ), Unicode and Shift-JIS offer both half- width and full-width at Katakana. The standard in email and Usenet ISO -2022 -JP (see ISO / IEC 2022 ), however, has only the two-byte Katakana.


In Unicode, the normal width Katakana occupy the Unicode block Katakana (U 30 A0 to U 30 FF):

The half-width katakana are encoded in the block of U FF65 to U FF9F:

In addition, there is the code range U 32 D0- U 32 FE in which all Katakana are present in the form circled up onン.

Katakana for the Ainu language

Since most Ainu - Japanese speakers dominate as a second or as a native language, and the Ainu language is usually transcribed into Katakana. Since the syllables have the Ainu, in contrast to the Japanese, and final consonants, they are also represented in the case. To this end, the final consonant is written by a semi- high characters from the u - column, the vowel remains silent. "Up" is thereforeウㇷ ゚(u small pu) transcribed. In Unicode, the characters are for the Ainu language support in phonetic extension block for Katakana reserved ( U 31 F0 to U 31 FF).