Japan is a country that is known for fast bullet trains, extremely polite citizens, manga, anime (graphic comics) and of course, Pokemon! But the Japanese language is one of the oldest languages in existence and it is gaining popularity in the modern world, with more and more speakers learning it as a second or third language.
It’s not just the Japanese culture that’s fascinating but the language too. Here are 7 interesting facts about the Japanese language you may not have known.
Need for Speed
Japanese is one of the fastest spoken languages in the world. In a recent study that compared the number of syllables spoken per second, Japanese speakers aced the results by speaking a mammoth 7.84 syllables per second. The Spanish Language was second with 7.82 followed by French at 7.18. The English Language was at the lower end of the spectrum with 6.19 syllables per second.
Tough but Easy
The writing system of the Japanese language is one of the harder languages to get used to. The strokes and combined with the lack of resemblance to any Roman alphabets makes it a challenging language to learn. However, there are some aspects of the language which make it a language learner’s delight. There is no conjugation necessary in the Japanese language, meaning you can forget memorizing the verbs in its various singular, plural or gender-specific forms. Pronunciation is also easier with Japanese as there are only 5 vowels and 11 consonants used to make the 48 possible sounds!
Courtesy and Etiquette
The Japanese language reflects the general politeness of the Japanese people. Unlike other languages, there are specific terms integrated into the language and grammatical forms to portray respect. The degree of respect can vary based on age, job title, social status, etc. As a common courtesy, Japanese speakers use honorifics while addressing someone. The most common honorifics include san, chan, and kun.
A Bit of a Give and Take
Due to globalization and cultural mingling, there is an intermixing of languages that happen globally. Japanese culture is of great interest to people everywhere, more so in the Americas and Britain. Due to this interest, it is common to see the languages borrow words from each other. Some Japanese origin words like origami, tofu, anime, and karaoke are all Japanese words that have been integrated into the English vocabulary through consistent use. The same is the case when one might learn Japanese. Speakers of Portuguese, English or German can come across words that might sound familiar.
A few examples would be pan (pão in Portuguese), arubaito (arbeit in German) and miruku (milk in English) among others.
One of a Kind
Japanese is a unique language as it has no roots in any other language. Unlike the Romance languages of Europe such as French, English, Spanish or German, the Japanese language has no known relation to another language. This has given Japanese the title of language isolate, as it is classified as a language that is unique amongst existing world languages.
Migration has played a role in the presence of the Japanese language in various countries across the globe. Historical migration has led to the emergence of migrant communities in countries close to Japan such as South Korea and Taiwan to the coasts of Australia in the East or Brazil in the West. Major cities in the USA like California and Hawaii boast Japanese speakers in high numbers with Brazil having 1.5 million Japanese speakers. Other countries with Japanese speakers are China, Peru, Argentina, and Canada.
Heavy Data Users!
Japan is a country where the majority of the population are internet users. Recent statistics estimate Japanese speakers account for at least 10% to the global internet traffic. 80% of the Japanese speaking population uses the internet and Japan ranks 4th in the rankings of most internet users in a country with the English speakers leading the list, followed by Russian and German speakers.
Waste no time and get started on your journey to the land of the rising sun with our online Japanese language course.