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Languages > Japanese
Most Popular Japanese Language Product Types
Baby - Kindergarten
My First Bilingual Book of Numbers in Japanese & English
Japanese New Testament, Colloquial Version (24 Cassettes) Bible
Children's Books
Ellie's Secret Diary (Don't bully me) in Japanese & English HB
Language Library - Basic Japanese by Video
Basic Japanese-English Dictionary: An Easy-to-Use Dictionary for Beginners (Paperback)
Japanese Crossword Puzzles Using Roomaji (Paperback)
Harry Potter
Harry Potter in Japanese [1] in Japanese (Paperback)
Keyboard for Japanese Black USB Keyboard for Windows
Keyboard Stickers
Keyboard Stickers for Japanese (blue)
NTC - Teach Yourself Business Japanese Complete Course (336 pp 2 cass)
Visas That Saved Lives,The
Software - Mac
Japanese PageMaker 7.0J Plus Mac
Bilingual Books - Japanese a Language Mapô in JAPANESE
Word Processing
TwinBridge Japanese Partner 6.5 for 32bit Win 2000/XP/Vista/7/10
Word to Word Dictionary
Word to Word Japanese / English Dictionary (Paperback)
All Japanese language product types

Language Information

Japanese, spoken by more than 125 million people in Japan, ranks among the top ten languages of the world.

No definite link has been established between Japanese and any other language, living or dead. Though it adopted the Chinese picto-graphic characters in the 3rd century A.D., Japanese is not, as is sometimes thought, genetically related to Chinese. Japanese does resemble Korean in grammatical structure, and though some scholars have suggested that they are related, this remains to be proven.

The Japanese ideographs, known as kanji, number in the thousands. An educated person can read 10,000 of them and the government has published a list of 1,850 that it considers basic. The kanji designate the chief meaningful words of the language-nouns, verbs, and adjectives. They are, however, supplemented by the kana, or syllabic characters, which are used chiefly to designate suffixes, particles, conjunctions, and other grammatical forms. There are two types of kana, each consisting of fifty characters: the hiragana, which is cursive in shape and in general use, and the katakana, which is angular in shape and is used mainly in imperial proclamations and in the transcription of foreign words. Each kana character stands for a single syllable rather than for a whole word. Theoretically any Japanese word can be written exclusively in the kana (children's primers are written entirely in katakana) but the large number of homonyms in the language makes this impractical. Modern Japanese, therefore, is written with a mixture of kanji and kana characters. As can be seen in the passage below, the kana are easily distinguishable from the kanji by their greater simplicity of design.

Japanese is generally written vertically beginning on the right, but many texts today are written horizontally to permit the inclusion of English words, Arabic numerals, and mathematical and chemical formulas. Though various movements over the years have advocated the adoption of the Roman script, native tradition and the great Japanese literary heritage militate against such a change.

English words of Japanese origin include kimono, geisha, sukiyaki, hibachi, jiujitsu, karate, samurai, hara-kiri, and kamikaze.

Yasunari Kawabata was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.

Japanese is spoken/used in the following countries:
Brazil, Guam (U.S.), Hawaii (U.S. State), Japan, Palau (Republic of), Peru, Taiwan, United States of America.

Language Family
Family: Independent

Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Writing Sample

Writing Sample


The Milky Way. Shimamura too looked up, and he felt himself floating into the Milky Way. Its radiance was so near that it seemed to take him up into it. Was this the bright vastness the poet Basho saw when he wrote of the Milky Way arched over a stormy sea? The Milky Way came down just over there, to wrap the night earth in its naked embrace. There was a terrible voluptuousness about it. Shimamura fancied that his own small shadow was being cast up against it from the earth. Each individual star stood apart from the rest, and even the particles of silver dust in the luminous clouds could be picked out, so clear was the night. The limitless depth of the Milky Way pulled his gaze up into it.


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