Japanese

Japanese language: Origin, History, Grammar, and Writing

As an East Asian language, Japanese is spoken by 128 million people primarily situated in Japan where it is their only official language. About 3 million Japanese speakers out of the total number are situated in Brazil, the USA, Peru, Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The Japanese language is a member of the Japonic (or Japanese-Ryukyuan) language family.

History of The Language

The prehistory of the language is not well-documented, thus not much is known in today’s world. However, the first documents containing some Japanese words date back to the 3rd century, but nothing substantial until the 8th century. Chinese had a major influence on the vocabulary and phonology of Old Japanese. Late Middle Japanese (1185–1600) included changes in features that brought it closer to the modern language and the first appearance of European loanwords. During Japan’s isolation in 1853, the flow of loanwords from European languages increased significantly. English loanwords, in particular, have become frequent, and Japanese words from English roots have increased.

Grammatical Structure of The Language

The Japanese language is an agglutinative language with a pure vowel system, phonemic vowel, and consonant length. Word order is normally subject–object–verb and the sentence-final particles are used to add emotional or emphatic impact, or make questions. The nouns in the Japanese language have no grammatical number or gender, and there are no articles. The verbs are conjugated, primarily for tense and voice, but not for a person.

The Written Language

Although the Japanese language has no genetic relationship with the Chinese, it makes extensive use of Chinese characters since the beginning of its existence. Also, a large portion of its vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese. The Japanese writing system primarily uses two syllabic (or moraic) scripts, the hiragana, and katakana. Latin script is used in a limited fashion, such as for imported acronyms, and to transcribe Japanese names and in other instances where non-Japanese speakers need to know how to pronounce a word. The numeral system uses mostly Arabic numerals alongside traditional Chinese numerals.

Today, modern Japanese is written in a mixture of three main systems: kanji, characters of Chinese origin used to represent both Chinese loanwords into Japanese and a number of native Japanese morphemes; and two syllabaries: hiragana and katakana.

ULS Services in Japanese

At United Language Services we work with a wide array of certified professional translators and interpreters that have mastered the Japanese language in all its forms. So if you need translation, interpretation, localization, or transcription of the language, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Japanese language: Origin, History, Grammar, and Writing

As an East Asian language, Japanese is spoken by 128 million people primarily situated in Japan where it is their only official language. About 3 million Japanese speakers out of the total number are situated in Brazil, the USA, Peru, Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The Japanese language is a member of the Japonic (or Japanese-Ryukyuan) language family.

History of The Language

The prehistory of the language is not well-documented, thus not much is known in today’s world. However, the first documents containing some Japanese words date back to the 3rd century, but nothing substantial until the 8th century. Chinese had a major influence on the vocabulary and phonology of Old Japanese. Late Middle Japanese (1185–1600) included changes in features that brought it closer to the modern language and the first appearance of European loanwords. During Japan’s isolation in 1853, the flow of loanwords from European languages increased significantly. English loanwords, in particular, have become frequent, and Japanese words from English roots have increased.

Grammatical Structure of The Language

The Japanese language is an agglutinative language with a pure vowel system, phonemic vowel, and consonant length. Word order is normally subject–object–verb and the sentence-final particles are used to add emotional or emphatic impact, or make questions. The nouns in the Japanese language have no grammatical number or gender, and there are no articles. The verbs are conjugated, primarily for tense and voice, but not for a person.

The Written Language

Although the Japanese language has no genetic relationship with the Chinese, it makes extensive use of Chinese characters since the beginning of its existence. Also, a large portion of its vocabulary is borrowed from Chinese. The Japanese writing system primarily uses two syllabic (or moraic) scripts, the hiragana, and katakana. Latin script is used in a limited fashion, such as for imported acronyms, and to transcribe Japanese names and in other instances where non-Japanese speakers need to know how to pronounce a word. The numeral system uses mostly Arabic numerals alongside traditional Chinese numerals.

Today, modern Japanese is written in a mixture of three main systems: kanji, characters of Chinese origin used to represent both Chinese loanwords into Japanese and a number of native Japanese morphemes; and two syllabaries: hiragana and katakana.

ULS Services in Japanese

At United Language Services we work with a wide array of certified professional translators and interpreters that have mastered the Japanese language in all its forms. So if you need translation, interpretation, localization, or transcription of the language, please do not hesitate to contact us.