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Katakana (片仮名, かたかな)

One of two modern syllabaries (the other one is hiragana, 平仮名, ひらがな), which together with kanji (漢字, かんじ, i.e. “characters of the Han China”) define today’s Japanese writing system. The name “katakana” literally means “fragmentary syllabary”, which is a reference to its etymology. Katakana was developed from parts of kanji in their standard script (楷書, かいしょ, kaisho) forms. Katakana is used mainly for adoption of foreign names and words into the language, but also certain Japanese company names, onomatopoeic words, etc., or even purposely, for writing down common Japanese words that may have a kanji equivalent, to emphasise the casual nature of the text. There are 48 katakana characters. Katakana is traditionally rarely used in calligraphy, although it is quite often seen in modern works. A style combining both kana and kanji in one calligraphy work is called 調和体 (ちょうわたい, chōwatai, i.e. “harmony of bodies (scripts)”).

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Page last modified on November 04, 2011, at 07:14 AM