Japanese Language

image

The origins of the Japanese language are ambiguous in many ways. Some connect it to the family of Altaic languages, which also contains Turkish, Mongolian, and other tongues, although it also exhibits characteristics of Austronesian languages like Polynesian.

Japanese language: Writing

Three character sets make up the Japanese writing system: kanji (hundreds of thousands of Chinese characters), hiragana, and katakana (two syllabaries of 46 characters each, called kana). 

Japanese texts can be written in either the traditional Japanese style, which uses vertical columns from the right to the left side of the page or the Western style, which uses horizontal rows from top to bottom. Both writing idioms are still in use today.

Japanese language: Grammar

Japanese grammar works differently from English. There are no complicating elements like gender articles or distinctions between single and plural. 

Adjective and verb conjugation rules are straightforward and practically without exception. Nouns don't have any declination; they always take the same form.

Japanese language: Pronunciation

Japanese has relatively few sounds compared to other languages, and most learners have minimal trouble pronouncing them. 

Accents pose the most challenge; they exist, but considerably less so than in the Chinese language. Additionally, there are a lot of homonyms or words that sound the same yet mean different things.

Japanese language: Level of Speech

When speaking to a stranger or a superior, different words and expressions are used than when talking to a child, a member of the family, or a close friend. 

For instance, there are more than five alternative words for "I" in English, depending on the context. An honorific language level (Keigo) is frequently used in formal contexts.

Studying the Japanese Language

Nihongo (日本語), or Japanese, is a language many people find challenging to master. Given how fundamentally different Japanese is from European languages, such as English, this is unquestionably true for native speakers of those languages.

The complicated writing system of the Japanese language is one of its main challenges. Complete literacy in Chinese requires years of study unless you are already familiar with the characters (kanji). 

Up to the conclusion of junior high school, Japanese students study roughly 2000 kanji, and they keep learning more through their academic careers. The two syllabaries, hiragana and katakana, which include approximately 100 signs, can be learned quickly.

The fact that a person's speech can change based on the situation and the person makes learning Japanese a challenge as well. 

To comprehend the intricate laws of the many levels of discourse, a Japanese language student must become familiar with Japanese culture.

Basic Japanese grammar is relatively straightforward when compared to several European languages. 

There are no complicating elements, such as gender articles or divisions between single and plural. There are very few exceptions to the rules governing the conjugation of verbs and adjectives. 

Nouns never diminish; instead, they always take the same form. For beginning students, the language is comparatively simple because of these factors.

Language Schools in Japan

Language institutes for foreign visitors and residents are located all over Japan but are most prevalent in Tokyo and other large cities. Language schools offer different courses with varying lengths and objectives. 

For three-month or shorter language courses, visitors from the majority of Western nations and other nations with a visa-waiver agreement with Japan do not require a student visa. More extended studies necessitate a suitable visa. 

Several cities outside of Japan have Japanese language schools.

Japanese language schools provide a wide range of programs for both transient immigrants and citizens of Japan. 

Many schools provide 6-month, 1-year, and 2-year courses for foreigners living in Japan and weekly, monthly, and 3-month courses for short-term visitors. 

Various courses are available, including business classes, private lessons, general language instruction, culture classes, preparation for the university entrance exam, and test preparation in the Japanese language. 

Some schools also offer half-day programs or classes on only three or four days per week in addition to full-time options.

The length of the course automatically impacts the tuition costs. For a 3-month full-time program is from 150,000 to 200,000 yen. 

For long-term programs, most schools also charge an annual insurance fee of 10,000 yen and a registration fee ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 yen. 

A visa application process is required for an additional price of typically around 20,000 yen; in this instance, the language school will provide the applying student's Certificate of Eligibility.

Some of the best Japanese Language Schools in Japan are:

  • KAI Japanese Language School
  • Genki Japanese and Culture School Fukuoka
  • Yoshida Institute of Japanese Language
  • Genki Japanese and Culture School Tokyo
  • I.C.Nagoya School
  • Genki Japanese and Culture School - Kyoto

Japanese Language: Kanji

Chinese characters known as kanji (漢字), one of the three scripts used in the Japanese language, were first brought to Japan in the fifth century via the Korean peninsula.

Since each character in kanji has a specific meaning and relates to a word, they are ideograms. You can make additional words by combining different character types. For instance, "train" is the result of the phrase "electrical" and "vehicle". 

Tens of thousands of characters are used, of which 2000–3000 are necessary to comprehend publications. The "kanji for everyday use" has been formally designated as a set of 2136 characters.

Chinese characters were the first writing system to be used in Japan. The Japanese introduced the letters' original Chinese pronunciations when they adopted them and connected them to the matching native Japanese words and pronunciations. 

Because of this, most kanji can still be spoken in at least two different ways: a Chinese (on-yomi) and a Japanese (Kun-Yomi) style, which makes learning the Japanese language much more difficult.

Writing nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs is done in kanji. Japanese, however, cannot be written wholly in kanji, unlike Chinese. 

Two additional syllable-based characters, hiragana and katakana, each with 46 syllables, are used for grammatical endings and words lacking the corresponding kanji.

Japanese Language: Hiragana

The Japanese created hiragana and katakana, a syllabic writing system, around the ninth century. Hiragana characters are curvier than more angular katakana characters.

Originally kanji, the hiragana and katakana are each made up of 46 signs that have been streamlined over time. When reading a Japanese text, one can easily discern between the more complex kanji signs and the more straightforward kana signs.

There are five vowels among the syllables (a, I u, e, o). Among them is the n. One of these vowels is paired with a consonant to form the remaining syllables (ka ki Ku ke ko ra ri ru re ro...).

Additionally, by adding two tiny strokes or a tiny circle in the top right area next to the character, you can slightly alter the majority of syllables. 

Ha, for instance, becomes ba when two small strokes are added or pa when a small circle is added.

Even though hiragana can theoretically be used to write the entire language, it is typically only used for the grammatical ends of verbs, nouns, and adjectives, as well as for particles and a few other native Japanese words (as opposed to loan words, which are written in katakana) that are not written in kanji.

Hiragana is the first of the writing systems taught to Japanese students. Because of this, many books for young children are solely written in hiragana.

Japanese Language: Katakana

The Japanese created hiragana and katakana, a syllabic writing system, around the ninth century. Hiragana characters are curvier than more angular katakana characters.

Originally kanji, the hiragana and katakana are each made up of 46 signs that have been streamlined over time. 

When reading a Japanese text, one can easily discern between the more complex kanji signs and the more straightforward kana signs.

There are five vowels among the syllables (a, I, u, e, o). Of them, all one constant is the n. One of these vowels is paired with a consonant to form the remaining syllables (ka ki Ku ke ko ra ri ru re ro...).

Additionally, by adding two tiny strokes or a tiny circle in the top right area next to the character, you can slightly alter the majority of syllables. 

Ha, for instance, becomes ba when two small strokes are added or pa when a small circle is added.

Nowadays, loan words, foreign names, and geographic names that cannot be written in kanji are typically written in katakana.

Japanese Language: Keigo

Japanese uses a variety of verb tenses as well as alternate words and idioms to meet various levels of politeness. 

There are three standard levels of politeness, which are communicated through various speech patterns. 

The levels are appropriate for informal, formal, and dignified settings. Keigo () denotes the honorific level of speech.

One is expected to employ honorific speech while conversing with someone significantly higher on the social scale, such as customers, instructors, or seniors. 

Keigo typically employs modest pronouns to address oneself and honorific ones to address the recipient.

Keigo may make it more difficult for Japanese language learners to communicate. To effectively express themselves in this formal, respectful manner, native Japanese speakers need a lot of practice.

Share On