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What are Hiragana and Katakana?

Hiragana in hiraganaWhat is Hiragana? 

Hiragana, which means “rounded” or “easy”, is a phonetic script much like the English alphabet where each character has a unique sound and the characters can be written one after the next to spell out a word. Learning hiragana is the first step in learning how to read and write Japanese – indeed it is the first of the three Japanese scripts that Japanese children learn. Hiragana is used to write the grammatical parts of words or sentences and write Japanese words that do not have a kanji (Chinese-based character).

Katakana in katakanaWhat is Katakana?

Katakana, like hiragana, is also a phonetic script. Learning katakana is usually the second step in learning how to read and write Japanese. Katakana is used to represent foreign words or sounds – particularly words that have been adopted into the Japanese language (loan words) and foreign names (personal and country names).

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