is the sixth most spoken language in the
world, with over 99% percent of the country's
population using it. Amazingly, the
language is spoken in scarcely any region
are many theories about the origin of the
Japanese language, some believe it is close to
Altaic languages like Turkish or Mongolian,
it's similarity in syntax to Korean is
recognized. There is also evidence that its
morphology and vocabulary were influenced by
Malayo-Polynesian languages to the south.
The writing system itself comes from the
Chinese, but the difference in the two
languages is immense.
Japanese, based on the speech of Tokyo, has
been spreading through the country by the use
of television, radio and movies.
addition to standard Japanese, there are many
local dialects, particularly those by the
people of Kyoto and Osaka, that continue to be
short vowels in the Japanese language are
spoken similarly to those of the Spanish and
Italian languages, whereas the long vowel
sounds are usually comprised of doubling the
short vowel sounds. As with many other
languages, the pronunciation of these vowel
sounds is important because each sound changes
the meaning of a word.
Japanese and English, there is a striking
difference, Japanese gives equal stress to
each syllable (therefore, no stress accent).
One similarity though is that Japanese has a
system of pitch accents varying from high to
the Chinese, the Japanese use 2 distinct forms
of phonetic script, kana, to use along with
Chinese characters. Sometimes it is
necessary to include roman letters (for newer
words, "Xerox", etc) for acronyms or
foreign words, thus increasing the number of
scripts used to four.
known as Chinese characters, symbolizes an
idea or thing. This is called an
ideogram and it's not uncommon for kanji to
have more than one pronunciation or sound.
They are used in Japan to write Chinese words
or native Japanese words.
are two forms of kana script. One is
hiragana, used mainly by women in earlier
days, and consists of 48 characters.
This form is used to write native Japanese
words, particles, verb endings.
Katakana, the other kana script, is composed
of 48 characters as well. It is used
mainly for emphasis, flora and fauna
scientific names as well as for writing loan
words. These forms of writing are by far
easier to write than the Chinese form they
has started printing books in the Western
fashion of horizontal lines in recent times,
left to right - front to back. It is
still customary though for Japanese books to
be printed or written vertically. This
means the book is to be opened to the back and
read from top to bottom starting on the right
words are words that are "borrowed"
from another language and incorporated into
Japanese everyday language. These words
are often from the Chinese language but may
also be English or a European language.
Many Chinese character have evolved in
Japanese by taking the characters and making a
new combination, distinctly unique and used by
modern Japanese. In addition to
evolution of Chinese characters, English words
have been combined to make a "new"
word, such as "nighter" for night
games. The tendency to combine or borrow
words has become increasingly evident in
with other cultures, the Japanese have a
different language on that shows honor or
respect and it is called "keigo."
Keigo is simply a method of speaking that
shows the speaker's respect to the person he
is speaking to. There are many different
levels and words or expressions are selected
depending on how polite the person wants or
needs to be. Depending on the status of
the speaker to the recipient, a simple
sentence can be stated 20 different ways!
are many different factors to take into
account when determining what degree of
politeness is necessary. Some of the
factors include age, social status, gender,
and even if a favor is owed or done or any
combination thereof! There is also a
level of language that is considered neutral
if you don't know the status of the person to
whom you are speaking. Generally, women
speak more politely than men and use it in
many more circumstances.
is no different from other Asian countries
when it comes to name order. Unlike
Westerners, who use first or given name then
last or family name, Japanese use their family
name first, followed by their given name.
Given names are chosen (and the Chinese
character equivalent) for their meanings in
the hope of bringing good luck to the child.
are titles that need to be used as well,
depending on who you are talking to. The
Japanese equivalent to "Mr.",
"Mrs." is san, which is said
after the family name. If you are speaking to
someone like a teacher or doctor, there are
other titles that need to be added after the
family name. If it's a child or a close
friend, then the suffix chan is used.