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History of Japanese
Japanese Writing
The Chinese language brought for the first time the means of writing Japanese and today Japanese is written in a combination of Chinese characters called Kanji and syllabic symbols called Kana.

There are two different kinds of Kana; Hiragana, which is cursive and is normally used for particles and for verb and adjective endings and Katakana, which is angular and usually used for spelling foreign words and names. The Kana are used to write words for which there are no official Kanji and in reading Japanese, one usually finds all three ways of writing on the same page.

There has been a movement since the end of the 19th Century to relieve the situation caused by the complexity of the Japanese writing system.
Honorifics
Several languages such as Korean and Chinese make use of a special system in which different levels of politeness or respect are expressed, which is known as the honorific system. In Japanese there are special words used for the members of the Imperial family and between employers and employees, reflecting submission, loyalty and respect towards superior's, authority and benevolence towards the inferior.

The word wife, for example can be expressed in many ways including, tsuma, kanai, sai, saikun, nyobo, shufu, fujin, okusama, okugata, kisaki, hi, okamisan and kaka, depending on her social status and the person who is addressing her.

Other differences in politeness can be conveyed through the modification of nouns, verbs, adjectives and most distinctly personal pronouns where the Japanese have seven different words for 'I'! These distinctions have been less strictly observed since the war but are all still used in many situations.

Today Japanese is spoken by the entire population of Japan - 115 million people - and is the 6th most widely spoken language of the world. In the past, there has been surprisingly little interest in the Japanese language although in recent years there has been a definite swing in its favour.

Learning the Japanese language promises many rewards and offers an insight into a culture, which we would otherwise probably not comprehend. The very nature of the Japanese is steeped in tradition, respect and authority. The language is an outward manifestation of the people.

And Finally...
There are about 10,000 foreign words in Japanese, mostly adopted from English. The Katakana alphabet allows the Japanese speaker to adopt foreign words into Japanese with ease, requiring only a modification of pronunciation.

See how you can get on with the following examples . . . fashiyonaburu, taipuraita, uisuki, kamera, manshon, and motosaiku.

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Did you know?
The Japanese language has 122 million native speakers.
Japanese History
Japanese Speaking
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