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Facts of Japan - Language

Updated on May 18, 2011

The language spoken in Japan widely belongs to two phyla of language. They are Japonic Languages and Ainu Languages. These two are indigenous language families. Added to these two languages, there are some minority Korean and Chinese communities who continue to speak their native ethnic languages, usually, in private context.

The classical Chinese language, called Kanbun, still exists and it is also being used as a diplomacy language almost similar to Medieval Europe using Latin language. This Kanbun surely has left such an indelible mark in Japanese language vocabulary. In most of the Japanese schools, even at present, Kanbun is a mandatory language as well.

Examples of kanji characters.
Examples of kanji characters.
Hiragana table.
Hiragana table.
Katakana table.
Katakana table.

Japanese language is purely an agglutinative language which means that it is an other form of synthetic language. Here the affix represents just one unit of meaning. They have very high rate of affixes per word. In Japanese language, the sound inventory is small. The interesting point about the language is that it has such a complex mix of horrifics. It reflects clearly the nature of the Japanese society. The language uses very particular vocabulary that expresses the status of the listener as well as the speaker. Apart from these, the vowels in Japanese language are very pure.

The language is written, basically, with a clear combination of the three scripts. One is the Chinese character which is called Kanji. The other is Syllabic characters which are made up of modified Chinese characters called hiragana. Next is katakana.

Presently Japanese is the official language in Japan. Hyojungo, which means standard Japanese is generally considered to be the standard form whereas Kyotsugo form is known as common language. These two terms are a kind of conception that actually form the counter parts of the dialect. This language was born after the Meiji Restoration where the higher-class people in Tokyo used it for communication. In schools and official communication Hyojungo is taught.

Bungo, the standard Japanese language in previously was different from Kogo, something colloquial. Until 1900, Bungo was the primary method in writing Japanese language. But Kogo gradually extended in usage and both of them were used at the same time till 1940. But today Kogo is dominant in Japan though for effect few of Bungo is still used along with Kogo.

A variety of dialects are spoken in Japan now. They differ mostly in pitch accent, vocabulary, morphology and the particle usage, consonant usage and even vowels.

Japanese accent is mainly distinguished by Tokyo type and Kyoto Osaka type. There are many sub sections within each of these two types. The Japanese vowels are monophthongs and not diphthongs, which means they are pure.

Introduce yourself in Japanese

The structure of the sentence issubject, object and verb. The one strict rule is that the verb should be placed at the end of any sentence. Other elements in the sentence can be placed in any order or they can even be omitted as well if the elements are assumed using the context of speech. In fact, in the informal communication, the shorter version is always considered better.

Another general idea of Japanese nouns is that they do not have grammatical number, article or gender aspect. To show the tenses, the verbs are mostly conjugated. There are basically two tenses, past and present or non-past. The non-past is used for the future.

The politeness of the language is immense. They have the widest grammatical system to convey politeness and all the formalities. The social status can clearly be expressed through the language.

The vocabulary is very rich and quite extensive in nature. In the colleges, the students are taught to speak in a polite speech. Then the casual and formal speeches are taught.


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    • profile image

      prasanna sandaruwan 4 months ago

      I want come to japan

    • haibuihoang profile image

      haibuihoang 5 years ago from Kyoto

      I would add this online dictionary to the list :)