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Japanese, The Spoken Language – Part 1 (Yale Language Series)

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If his last name rings a bell, that’s because he lends his name to the concept of “Hepburn romanization.” He’s often credited for inventing it (as the name suggests), even though a Japanese organization called the 羅馬字会 ( ろーまじかい But hey, at least you can save yourself the headache of having to learn 38,000 to 48,000 more characters. Even native Japanese speakers don’t know them all, and knowing the 2,000 most common kanji is enough to help you get through a newspaper or subtitled TV show. 19. Japanese has several grammatical features that may seem strange to non-Japanese

In fact, as of 2021, there are nearly 3.8 million Japanese learners around the world. That’s a huge jump from 1979, when there were only over 127,000 learners—a 30-fold increase in over four decades. People are more interested in Japanese culture and thus want to learn the language. In Hokkaidō, there is the Ainu language, which is spoken by the Ainu people, who are the indigenous people of the island. The Ainu languages, of which Hokkaidō Ainu is the only extant variety, are isolated and do not fall under any language family. Ever since the Meiji period, Japanese has become widely used among the Ainu people and consequently Ainu languages have been classified critically endangered by UNESCO. [2] The most widely spoken language in Japan is Japanese, which is separated into several dialects with Tokyo dialect considered Standard Japanese.was said to be written almost wholly in hiragana—or, if you’re going to use the old term for it, yamatokotobaor literally “Japan words.”

Today, the katakana system consists of 48 unique syllables and is used by everyone. Thank goodness for that! 9. Katakana played a vital role in the Japanese military Late Middle Japanese covers the years from 1185 to 1600, and is normally divided into two sections, roughly equivalent to the Kamakura period and the Muromachi period, respectively. The later forms of Late Middle Japanese are the first to be described by non-native sources, in this case the Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries; and thus there is better documentation of Late Middle Japanese phonology than for previous forms (for instance, the Arte da Lingoa de Iapam). Among other sound changes, the sequence /au/ merges to /ɔː/, in contrast with /oː/; /p/ is reintroduced from Chinese; and /we/ merges with /je/. Some forms rather more familiar to Modern Japanese speakers begin to appear – the continuative ending - te begins to reduce onto the verb (e.g. yonde for earlier yomite), the -k- in the final syllable of adjectives drops out ( shiroi for earlier shiroki); and some forms exist where modern standard Japanese has retained the earlier form (e.g. hayaku> hayau> hayɔɔ, where modern Japanese just has hayaku, though the alternative form is preserved in the standard greeting o-hayō gozaimasu "good morning"; this ending is also seen in o-medetō "congratulations", from medetaku). There are also a great number of words of mimetic origin in Japanese, with Japanese having a rich collection of sound symbolism, both onomatopoeia for physical sounds, and more abstract words. A small number of words have come into Japanese from the Ainu language. Tonakai ( reindeer), rakko ( sea otter) and shishamo ( smelt, a type of fish) are well-known examples of words of Ainu origin.


Several fossilizations of Old Japanese grammatical elements remain in the modern language – the genitive particle tsu (superseded by modern no) is preserved in words such as matsuge ("eyelash", lit. "hair of the eye"); modern mieru ("to be visible") and kikoeru ("to be audible") retain a mediopassive suffix - yu(ru) ( kikoyu → kikoyuru (the attributive form, which slowly replaced the plain form starting in the late Heian period) → kikoeru (all verbs with the shimo-nidan conjugation pattern underwent this same shift in Early Modern Japanese)); and the genitive particle ga remains in intentionally archaic speech.

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