Japanese, known to native speakers as Nihongo, is spoken by 127 million people, most of whom reside in Japan, though significant Japanese-speaking emigrant populations live in the US and Brazil and other countries. It is the 9th most commonly spoken language on the planet. Language family: [disputed] >Japonic Official language: Japan, Palau (on the island of Angaur) Number of speakers: NATIVE: 126 million / 2nd: 1 million TOTAL: 127 million

Origins & Influences

The exact origins of the Japanese language are unknown; only one other language group, the Ryukyuan languages, is substantiated as being related. Though Japanese shares grammatical similarities with Korean and some lexical affinities with Austronesian languages, no genetic relationship with either of these language groups can be proven. Although not historically related to Chinese, Japanese is heavily influenced by Chinese through 1500 years of cultural and language contact. Linguistic influences are evident in vocabulary and grammatical similarities as well as in the Japanese system of writing, which consists of a mixture of kanji and kana characters borrowed from the Chinese.

Writing System

1945 Chinese kanji characters -- collectively called "Joyo Kanji" -- are considered basic for daily use in Japanese. These kanji ideographs designate the content words in Japanese: nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Meanings are further modified through the additional use of kana. The 50 syllabic characters are the grammatical functional words, such as conjunctions, particles, inflectional endings. Kana can be either hiragana or katakana characters, the former of which is most widely used. Traditionally these characters are written vertically, from right to left, but today texts are often written horizontally from left to right to accommodate the inclusion of English and other foreign words. Romaji, a phonetic system that uses the Roman alphabet, is used as well at times.

The Standard Language & Its Dialects

The mountainous topography and numerous small, isolated islands have fostered the development of many distinct dialects, some of which are mutually unintelligible. The language varieties are grouped into Eastern, Western, and sometimes also Kyushu dialects, but there are even many variations within these groupings. The languages spoken in the Ryukyuan Islands lying even farther to the southwest represent a fourth grouping that is nowadays considered by linguists to be a separate language (Ryukyu) rather than a variation of Japanese. The standard form of the Japanese language is based on the dialect of Tokyo and is referred to as hyojungo. This standard form has been taught to children on a widespread basis since compulsory education was introduced in 1886. Modern communication and transportation technologies have also led to the spread of this standard form. For this reason, as is the case with the languages of many technologically advanced countries, finer distinctions among dialects are slowly and gradually disappearing.

Japanese Words in English

Japanese words that have been absorbed into the English language more often than not describe cultural imports from Japan. Some examples are:bonsai, sushi, geisha, gingko, hibachi, haiku, judo, futon, tamari, ninja, tsunami, Akita.

Japan Has The 2nd Largest Economy In The World

Japan is a prosperous country and has the most diverse economy in Asia. Japan 's economy is 2nd only to that of the U.S. The leading Japanese companies are among the largest, most efficiently run, and most well-known firms in the world. Familiar names like Sony, Toshiba, Sanyo, Casio, Canon, Minolta, Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and many others have infiltrated the world market in a variety of sectors. Whether you're in the field of business, engineering, manufacturing, research, economics, or politics, chances are you will be competing with, if not working for, a Japanese entity..

Enjoy Art Like Never Before

English lets you feel the culture of the world like no other language. With a good knowledge of the English language, you can do wonderful things: Watch American and British films in the original. Once you try it, you’ll never go back to dubbed versions! Read great books. Every famous book was written in English or it was translated into English. There is an amazing number of titles — from classic plays like Hamlet to modern thrillers like Jurassic Park. Enjoy English-language music more. Enjoy English-language music more. Believe us: music is much better if you can understand the words.

Grammar

Japanese sentences follow Subject-Object-Verb word order, which means the verb typically occurs at the end of the sentence. Subject pronouns may be omitted if they are understood from context. Japanese has only two verb tenses, past and present, and the number of irregular verbs in the language is small. Unlike in many European languages, Japanese nouns lack both gender and number, and articles do not accompany nouns. Instead noun functions are indicated through the use of particles. These particles serve such roles as marking sentence subjects and objects, and expressing relationships between sentence components, much like prepositions do in English. Such particles are different from English prepositions, however, in that they follow rather than precede the nouns they mark. Politeness, formality, and hierarchical relationships are codified in the grammatical system of Japanese. Factors such as age, experience, job, the speaker's intention, and even the speaker's gender can influence whether one should use the plain form, the simple polite form, or honorific language or humble language in any given situation. These forms are characterized by differing verb conjugations and noun prefixes and suffixes. Though a loosening of formality has been evident among the younger generation over the past few decades, it is clear that this system will not disappear anytime soon.

Knowing Japanese Brings Business Opportunities

Japanese consumers spend 100s of billions of dollars each year on consumer goods and services like food, clothing, travel, and entertainment. The typical household has over $100,000 in savings and a disposable monthly income of $3,800. With all of that cash to spend, it is perhaps not surprising then that the United States exports more goods and services to Japan than any other overseas destination. Being able to communicate with potential customers in their own language is key to winning their business.

Japanese-Speakers Are The Internet 's 3rd Largest Language Group

The Japanese make up the third largest language community on the Internet, after only English and Chinese speakers. An estimated 88 million Japanese, or 9.6% of the world's online population, are connected to the Internet. Knowing Japanese can connect you to these people in an instant. They may just be future friends or acquaintances, business associates, or even the market that you or your future employer hopes to target.

Japanese Cultural Exports Are Exploding

From anime to sushi bars, karaoke to manga, bonsai to origami, Japanese culture has become part of international culture. A knowledge of the language will give you direct access to Japanese film, animations, and comic books, give you insight into the special terminology used in your favorite martial art, help you understand the cultural basis for kamikaze training and the origin of the samurai warrior, and develop your ability to order sashimi like a native at your favorite Japanese restaurant!

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