Meaning – The term katakana, refers to one of the two common Japanese phonetic alphabets (the other ishiragana). In katakana, each character is represented by 1 byte. Katakana is primarily used to write foreign words phonetically.
It is easier to read than the kanji (the picture method based on Chinese characters). Once the 46 katakana symbols have been learned, the reader knows how to pronounce them.
Katakana and hiragana are both syllabaries. In English, we use the letters of the alphabet. In most words, each letter stands for a bit of sound (a phoneme). In a syllabary, each symbol stands for a syllable. For example: in English, we write “Wagamama”: each of the eight letters standing for a sound: “W-a-g-a-m-a-m-a”. But if the word “Wagamama” is divided into syllables there are four syllables (blocks of sound): Wa-ga-mama.
Example of usage – “Katakana is used to write words which have been borrowed from other languages, or to write foreign names and names of countries.”