Japanese has no known linguistic relatives though is possibly distantly related to the Altaic family of languages, which includes Korean, Mongolian and Turkic languages. Japanese is not related to Chinese, though it does contain a huge number of Chinese ‘loan’ words, in fact perhaps 50% of the words used in Japanse are of Chinese origin.
The written language has 3 methods of writing: Thousands of Chinese characters called Kanji and 2 Japanese syllabaries of 48 characters each called Hiragana and Katakana. Japanese is therefore considered the most complex written language in the world.
Facts About Japan And The Japanese Language
- Over 70% of Japan consists of mountains and forests, has over 200 volcanoes with the tallest mountain being Mt. Fuji and has over 6,800 islands. This makes the habitable areas the coast resulting in some of the most densely populated areas worldwide. The greater metropolitan area of Tokyo of ~30 million people is also the largest worldwide. It’s roughly the size of the California but contains about half the population of the US.
- Geisha means “person of the arts” and the first geisha were men.
- Average life expectancy in Japan is the highest in the world at 83.5 years.
- In the Japanese language, the main verb comes at the end of the sentence.
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Where Is Japanese Spoken?
Japanese is spoken by 126 million people mainly in Japan but also in 26 other countries including American Samoa, Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guam, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines and Taiwan.