- Number of characters: 96
- type: syllabary
- Languages: japanese, okinawan, ainu, palaun
- Countries: Peru, North Korea, Japan, Guam, Taiwan, South Korea
Katakana is a Unicode block containing katakana characters for the Japanese and Ainu languages.
Katakana (片仮名, カタカナ) is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with Hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin script (known as romaji). The word katakana means «fragmentary kana», as the katakana characters are derived from components of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. Each syllable (strictly mora) in the Japanese language is represented by one character, or kana, in each system. Each kana is either a vowel such as «a» (katakana ア); a consonant followed by a vowel such as «ka» (katakana カ); or «n» (katakana ン), a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n, or ng (ŋ), or like the nasal vowels of Portuguese or French. In contrast to the Hiragana syllabary, which is used for those Japanese language words and grammatical inflections which kanji does not cover, the katakana syllabary usage is quite similar to italics in English; specifically, it is used for transcription of foreign language words into Japanese and the writing of loan words (collectively gairaigo); for emphasis; to represent onomatopoeia; for technical and scientific terms; and for names of plants, animals, minerals, and often Japanese companies. Katakana are characterized by short, straight strokes and sharp corners, and are the simplest of the Japanese scripts. There are two main systems of ordering katakana: the old-fashioned iroha ordering, and the more prevalent gojūon ordering.