Japanese language


August 13, 2022

The Japanese language (Japanese, にほんご, にっぽんご, Nihon-go, Nippon-gofile) is the language spoken by Japanese people, residents of the Japanese archipelago, as well as Japanese in exile. It belongs to the Japanese-Ryukyu group of languages. It is the native language of almost all residents of Japan, with the exception of naturalized foreigners. Legally, it does not have the status of an official language, but in fact it is. It is studied as a "state language" in the Japanese education system. According to various estimates, the number of speakers of the language is 127-130 million people, Japanese ranks 9th in the number of speakers. The first documentary evidence confirming the existence of the Japanese language dates back to the 8th century. The Japanese language is graphically expressed by three constituent elements — two syllabic alphabets, hiragana and katakana, as well as kanji characters. In addition, the Latin romaji alphabet is sometimes used to convey Japanese phonemes. The Japanese language dictionary has more than a million words. The language has been heavily influenced by the Chinese language. After the Second World War, there is an active borrowing of English words.


Phonemes in Japanese, with the exception of consonant doubling (っ) and the phoneme "n" (ん), have open syllables ending in vowels, and have moras in the literary language and dialects. Accent in Japanese is tonal. The following features are characteristic of authentic Japanese words devoid of foreign layers: Words do not begin with the sound "r", that is, the syllables of the column "ra" (ら行). Words do not begin with voiced consonants. The vowel sounds in the root of the word do not coincide with each other. The sentence is built according to the "subject • meaning • predicate" scheme. The meaning precedes the signified word. During the declension of nouns, instead of changing the order of the words in the sentence or the endings of the noun, a functional word, a particle-affix, is used, which performs a grammatical function and is added to the ending of the noun. Accordingly, in linguistic typology, the Japanese language is classified according to the features of the sentence structure to the SOV type languages, and according to the features of the morphology to the agglutinative languages. The vocabulary of the Japanese language, in addition to authentic Japanese words, contains many borrowings from the written Chinese language, as well as words from European languages. In the Japanese city