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Lesson 2


The Other Japanese Alphabet

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Katakana - カタカナ

As mentioned in Lesson 1, Katakana (as seen in the chart below) is mainly used for foreign words such as foreign names and words that have been borrowed from other languages such as コンピューター (kompyu-ta- = computer). Katakana is the least frequently used of the three character sets in Japanese. The Japanese language does not have as many sounds as the English language so, when creating a name in Katakana, for instance, the name must be sound out to the closest Japanese equivalent. Katakana, Hiragana, and Furigana (when Hiragana is written small next to a Kanji character to show how that character is read) are collectively known as Kana. Don't worry too much about Katakana (beyond maybe learning your name) for now.

There are some special Katakana characters that exist only for foreign names (such as シェ (she) or ティ (ti)). These special characters are not in the chart below (which contains only the standard set of Katakana characters) but can be seen in our Names in Japanese lesson. There are also the characters ヰ (wi) and ヱ (we) which were deemed obsolete in 1946.


a

i

u

e

o

ka

ki

ku

ke

ko

ga

gi

gu

ge

go

sa

shi

su

se

so

za

ji

zu

ze

zo

ta

chi

tsu

te

to

da

ji

zu

de

do

na

ni

nu

ne

no

ha

hi

fu

he

ho

ba

bi

bu

be

bo

pa

pi

pu

pe

po

ma

mi

mu

me

mo

ya

yu

yo

ra

ri

ru

re

ro

wa

wo

n/m

Combinations

キャ
kya
キュ
kyu
キョ
kyo
ギャ
gya
ギュ
gyu
ギョ
gyo
シャ
sha
シュ
shu
ショ
sho
ジャ
ja
ジュ
ju
ジョ
jo
チャ
cha
チュ
chu
チョ
cho
ニャ
nya
ニュ
nyu
ニョ
nyo
ヒャ
hya
ヒュ
hyu
ヒョ
hyo
ビャ
bya
ビュ
byu
ビョ
byo
ピャ
pya
ピュ
pyu
ピョ
pyo
ミャ
mya
ミュ
myu
ミョ
myo
リャ
rya
リュ
ryu
リョ
ryo

Here is a Printable Katakana Chart (PDF - get Adobe Acrobat Reader).


For more help on the subject of Kana (Hiragana and Katakana)...

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