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Japanese - interesting facts

 

About 130 million people (about 2% of the world's population) speak Japanese as their native language. Regarding the number of native speakers, this language is ranked 9th in the list of the most widely used languages in the world.

Nihongo is the official language of Japan. It is also recognized as a regional language in the U.S.-associated Republic of Palau (specifically in the state of Angaur).

The genesis of Japanese was and is disputed among linguists. Links were sought with Altaic and Uralic languages, languages of South Asia, and even Indo-European languages. The origins of Japanese writing date back to the turn of the 4th and 5th centuries AD, when attempts were made to record Japanese speech using Chinese characters. The oldest surviving Japanese texts date from the 8th century. The process of shaping modern Japanese began with the advent of the Edo era in the early 17th century.

Japanese writing is one of the most complex types of writing in modern languages. There are three characters: hiragana and katakana (which consist of 46 symbols and are used to write syllables) and kanji (a set of about 60,000 ideograms taken from Chinese script). In addition, there is also a romaji system, which is used to write Japanese characters using the Latin alphabet.

Standard Japanese is based on the Tokyo dialect. The geographical shape of Japan (the country consists of many islands with mountain ranges) favoured the emergence of a number of regional dialects. Some of them (e.g. dialects used at the northern and southern ends of the Japanese archipelago) show specific features that make them very difficult for Japanese people from other regions to understand.

Japanese is not one of the official languages of major international organizations.

In Japanese, we can find many borrowings from various languages. In the early period of the language's history, these were mainly borrowings from Chinese. At the beginning of the modern era, loans from the Portuguese language were sent to Japanese, for example パン [pan] – bread. After the end of the isolationist era (the end of the Edo era in 1853), Japanese enriched its lexicon with borrowings from various European languages: German, French and – especially in recent decades – English.

From Japanese to other languages, many words inextricably linked to the native culture have penetrated, such as karate, origami, samurai or sushi.

Effective communication in Japanese is associated with compliance with courtesy standards, which is associated with the need to master the honorific system. Depending on the social status of the recipient of the message, appropriate nouns or appropriate verb endings are used.

In Japanese, words do not change by grammatical type and number.

A typical Japanese word order is subject-completion-ruling. The verb appears at the end of the sentence.

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Specific sentence structure of Japanese

Japanese is an agglutinative language, meaning that words contain several elements that mean different characteristics, such as type, number, or verb. Sentences in Japanese have a different structure than in Western languages - the verb is placed at the end of the sentence, and the subject and complement are usually separated from each other. 

Difficult to master spelling

Japanese script consists of three sets of characters: kanji (Chinese characters), hiragana, and katakana (syllabaries). Each type of sign has its own application and allows you to express different levels of formality or mood. Learning Japanese spelling can be a challenge for people who speak Polish, but at the same time, it allows you to explore the richness of Japanese literature.

Language of Honour

In Japanese, many forms of courtesy and honour are used. When talking to an elderly person or a supervisor, use appropriate forms and phrases to express respect and humility. Knowing Japanese culture can be a valuable experience for people who speak English, allowing you to understand cultural differences and social behaviours.

Multiple dialects

Japanese is a language with a rich history and tradition, which has contributed to the emergence of many dialects used in different areas of the country. These dialects vary depending on the region in which they are used, as well as the social situation and age of the speaker. For people who speak Polish, learning different Japanese dialects can be a fascinating experience, allowing you to get to know the cultural richness of Japan.

Foreign influences

Japanese is a language that has many words that come from other languages, including Chinese and English. These borrowed words are called "gairaigo." These words often change meaning or spelling compared to the original languages, which can challenge Polish speakers. On the other hand, the presence of words borrowed from other languages makes Japanese open to external influences.

The importance of accents in Japanese

In Japanese, the accent is very important. Each word consists of a syllable, and one of them has a so-called "word accent". The place of the accent can affect the meaning of the word and how it is read. For people who speak Polish, learning Japanese can be a challenge, but at the same time it allows for better understanding and fluent communication in Japanese.

Many forms of nouns and verbs

Japanese has many forms of nouns and verbs, depending on their type, number, or form of politeness. In Japanese, verbs do not have a variation of time, but different forms are used that express the time or aspect of the action. For people who speak Polish, learning Japanese forms of nouns and verbs can be challenging, but at the same time it allows for a better understanding of Japanese grammar.

Japanese writing system

Japanese has three types of handwriting: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana and katakana are two basic types of Japanese script, used to write words that are not equivalent to kanji, but also for the phonetic writing of kanji. On the other hand, Kanji are Chinese logograms, representing certain meanings and words. Learning the Japanese writing system can be a challenge for people who speak Polish, but at the same time it is one of the most interesting aspects of the Japanese language.

Language of Culture

Japanese language and culture are inextricably linked. The Japanese language contains many words and expressions that reflect Japan's cultural values and traditions. For example, there are many words for elements of Japanese culture, such as the art of bonsai or the tea ceremony. For people who speak English, learning Japanese language and culture can be a fascinating experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in Japan's rich culture fully.

Japanese has a rich history and tradition, characterized by many interesting and unique aspects, such as the writing system, the richness of dialects, numerous forms of nouns and verbs, or an expressive accent. Learning Japanese can be a challenge for people who speak Polish, but at the same time, it allows you to discover the fascinating culture and tradition of the country of blossoming cherry.

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Your Essential Japanese

 

English

Japanese

yes はい (Hai)
no いいえ (Iie)
please お願いします (Onegaishimasu)
thank you ありがとう (Arigatou)
I'm sorry すみません (Sumimasen)
good morning こんにちは (Konnichiwa)
good evening こんばんは (Konbanwa)
goodbye おやすみなさい (Oyasuminasai)
good night さようなら (Sayounara)
hi こんにちは (Konnichiwa)
how are you?  お元気ですか? (Ogenki desu ka?)
well ありがとう、元気です (Arigatou, genki desu)
My name is... 私の名前は...です (Watashi no namae wa...desu)
I don't understand わかりません (Wakarimasen)
Jestem Polką / Polakiem 私はポーランド人です (Watashi wa Pōrandojin desu)

 

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