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Japanese Language

basics of japanese language

Last updated on May 10th, 2018 at 11:15 am

basics of japanese languageAddictive anime series, catchy J-pop tunes, and cultural originality. These are among the reasons a young demographic has shown intrigue for the Japanese language and culture. While I count myself as part of this swelling group of fanatics for all things Japan, I recently discovered a few more fascinating statistics in relation to the Japanese Culture that encompasses a broader range of industries:

  • PATENTS
    Japan was home to the 3rd most patent applications in 2014.
  • EDUCATION
    Japan ranks in the top 10 for origins of International Students.
  • MANUFACTURING
    Japan has the 3rd largest electronics manufacturing industry in the world.
  • AUTOMOTIVE
    Japan is the 3rd largest automobile market in the world.

This Japanese  phenomenon is one that we as a translation company can attest to.  JR Language has delivered Japanese translation services for a variety of documents ranging from patents, technical drawings and manufacturing agreements to tattoos, audio recordings, e-learning material, and packaging.

The Japanese language will only continue to rise in usage, and we’d like to provide a general introduction to this increasingly popular language.

 

Worldwide

The Japanese language is spoken by over 126 million people, most of whom reside in Japan.  Outside of Japan, Japanese native speakers have residence in Brazil and other major cities including New York, Paris, and London.

Fun fact:  About 16.7% of Hawaii residents speak Japanese at home!

japanese language spoken in the world

 

Japanese Writing: A Wonderfully Complex System

The Japanese writing system is a combination of 3 different sets of alphabets:  Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana.

  • Kanji
    Consists of over 8,000 characters, each of which represents an abstract concept, name, or word. A single Kanji character can have two or more meanings and pronunciations.
  • Hiragana
    Consists of 46 characters originally based on the Kanji alphabet system. Each Hiragana character represents a syllable and spells out every sound in the Japanese language. Hiragana is generally used to represent words of Japanese origin, and is the first taught to most Japanese children.
  • Katakana
    A syllabic alphabet system also comprised of 46 characters. Katakana is used for foreign or “imported” words that originated outside of Japan. Unless an individual is from Japan, they would have their name written in Katakana.

It can be easy to confuse Japanese and Chinese characters. An extensive period of interaction between the two cultures resulted in written Japanese being founded on the written Chinese model.

 

written japanese language systems

Spoken Japanese

Although several dialects of Japanese are spoken across Japan, standard Japanese has spread throughout the nation, resulting in a declining use of regional dialects.

As discussed in a previous post on Japanese Culture, social status and ranking is firmly rooted in the spoken Japanese Language. In a system known as Japanese Honorifics, an honorific is used in a similar manner of addressing someone as Mr., Mrs., Madam, or Doctor. Honorifics are normally added at the end of an individual’s first and last names, with each honorific indicating a different level of respect.

 

Connecting With the Japanese Market

As one of the top 10 most used languages in the world, Japanese is a complex  and layered language used in a variety of areas and industries.  With a growing interest in Japanese culture and the importance of the Japanese market, it is worthwhile to research opportunities and invest in communicating well with Japanese speakers.

JR Language provides Japanese Translations for many projects, including patent translation and technical translation to name a few. Every day brings new developments in the world that we need to follow and absorb, not only from an economic standpoint, but also to understand cultures and behaviors. At JR Language one of our goals is to help communicate without limits to improve global reach. In order to achieve our undertakings, we will continue to learn and explore languages, in particular the Japanese Language market and its evolution.

FloraY
FloraY
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.