Main Difference – Hiragana vs. Katakana
The Japanese writing system uses several characters. They are kanji, romaji, and kana. Kana are simple symbols that represent sounds, and there are two types of kana: Hiragana and Katakana. The main difference between Hiragana and Katakana can be described as the shape of the characters and their use. Hiragana characters, which are written in a curving, flowing style, are used to write native words while Katakana characters, which are more angular in shape, are used to write words with foreign origins. We will look at the difference between Hiragana and Katakana further, by analyzing these two syllabaries separately.
What is Hiragana
Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary and is a basic component of the Japanese writing system. It can be introduced as the basic Japanese phonetic script as it represents every sound in the Japanese script. All sounds in the Japanese language can be written in this script. There are 46 basic modern Hiragana characters in the Japanese language. It has 5 singular vowels, 45 consonant–vowel unions, and 1 singular consonant. The characters are written in a smoother script, full of loops and curves.
Hiragana can be used alongside with kanji to write native Japanese words. It can be used to write grammatical forms such as particles and adjective endings, words for which there are no kanji. Hiragana characters can also be used if the writer does not the kanji form of a word or if the kanji usage is too formal. However, keep in mind that Hiragana can only be used for native Japanese words including words of Chinese origins. Hiragana can also be used to indicate the pronunciation of the kanji characters. Given below is a table of basic Hiragana characters.
What is Katakana
Katakana is a kana system which is used to words that are imported from foreign languages. Katakana also represents the phonetic sounds of the language, but the characters are different. Katakana characters are written in a more angular shape; this writing is rigid with sharp turns and is known as the more masculine of Japanese writing systems. The Japanese language consists of 48 characters of Katakana: 5 nucleus vowels, 42 core or body syllabograms and 1 coda consonant.
Words adapted from other languages (except Chinese) are written in Katakana. Its usage is quite similar to italics in English; Katakana is used to transcribe foreign language words into Japanese and to write loan words. It is also used to indicate emphasis and to represent onomatopoeia. Technical and scientific terms, names of plants, animals, minerals, and companies are also written in Katakana.
Difference Between Hiragana and Katakana
Hiragana is used to write native Japanese words.
Katakana is used to write words that are imported from foreign languages.
Number of Characters
Hiragana has 46 basic characters.
Katakana has 48 basic characters.
Shape of the Characters
Hiragana characters are written in a smoother script, full of curves and loops.
Katakana characters are written in a more angular shape.
Hiragana is easier to learn.
Katakana is more difficult to learn compared to Hiragana.
“Table hiragana” by User:Pmx – Based upon Image: Table hiragana.jpg (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons
“Table katakana” by User:Pmx – Based upon Image: Table katakana.jpg. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons