Katakana (片仮名, かたかな, カタカナ, Japanese pronunciation: [katakana]) is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin script (known as rōmaji). The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each syllable (strictly mora) in the Japanese language is represented by one character, or kana, in each system. Each kana represents 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. In contrast to the hiragana syllabary, which is used for Japanese words not covered by kanji and for grammatical inflections, 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. There are two main systems of ordering katakana: the old-fashioned iroha ordering, and the more prevalent gojūon ordering. The complete katakana script consists of 48 characters, not counting functional and diacritic marks: 5 nucleus vowels 42 core or body (onset-nucleus) syllabograms, consisting of nine consonants in combination with each of the five vowels, of which three possible combinations (yi, ye, wu) are not canonical 1 coda consonantThese are conceived as a 5×10 grid (gojūon, 五十音, literally "fifty sounds"), as shown in the adjacent table, read ア (a), イ (i), ウ (u), エ (e), オ (o), カ (ka), キ (ki), ク (ku), ケ (ke), コ (ko) and so on. The gojūon inherits its vowel and consonant order from Sanskrit practice.
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