View topic - Half width
Katakana have two forms of encoding, halfwidth hankaku (半角, hankaku?) and fullwidth zenkaku (全角, zenkaku?). The halfwidth forms come from JIS_X_0201 originally. This includes halfwidth Katakana in right side area of ASCII. That is, most halfwidth Katakana could be represented by one byte each. In late 1970's, two-byte character set was appeared such as JIS_X_0208 to represent Hiraganas and Kanjis and so on. The problem is, JIS_X_0208 has its own Katakana area independently of one-byte character set such as JIS_X_0201. This conflict creates many controversies. Katakana of JIS_X_0208 takes two-byte (at least), so many (especially old) devices output these Katakanas as two-byte-width. This is why Katakana of JIS_X_0201 is called as halfwidth and JIS_X_0208, fullwidth. Therefore, most encodings have no halfwidth Hiragana.
Although often said to be obsolete, in fact the halfwidth katakana are still used in many systems and encodings. For example, the titles of mini discs can only be entered in ASCII or halfwidth katakana, and halfwidth katakana were commonly used in computerized cash register displays, on shop receipts, and Japanese digital television and DVD subtitles. Several popular Japanese encodings such as EUC-JP, Unicode and Shift-JIS have halfwidth Katakana code as well as fullwidth one. By contrast, ISO-2022-JP has no halfwidth Katakana, is mainly used over SMTP and NNTP. Halfwidth katakana are commonly used to save screen and/or memory space.
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