Japanese language resources
Japanese is spoken on a daily basis in: Japan
Additional background on
Japanese (???, Nihongo (help·info)) is a language spoken by over 130 million people, mainly in Japan, but also by Japanese emigrant communities around the world. It is considered an agglutinative language and is distinguished by a complex system of honorifics reflecting the hierarchical nature of Japanese society, with verb forms and particular vocabulary which indicate the relative status of speaker and listener. The sound inventory of Japanese is relatively small, and it has a lexically distinct pitch-accent system. Its recorded history goes back to the 8th century, when the three major works of Old Japanese were compiled.
The Japanese language is written with a combination of three different types of glyphs: Chinese characters (called kanji), and two syllabic scripts, hiragana and katakana. The Latin alphabet (called romaji) is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for things such as company names, advertising, and when inputting Japanese into a computer. Western style Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Chinese/Japanese numberings are also commonplace.
Japanese vocabulary has been heavily influenced by loans from other languages. A vast number of words were borrowed from Chinese, or created on Chinese models, over a period of at least 1,500 years. Since the late 19th century, Japanese has borrowed a considerable number of words from Western languages, primarily English.
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All data is derived from UNESCO.