Expert Japanese Translators and Interpreters
Expertise from the Land of the Rising Sun
After experiencing difficult times during the latter part of the 20th century and the 1990s, Japan is now firmly back on the map as the world’s third largest economy.
Japanese expertise in the electronics and automotive industries is legendary.
We have a particular affection for Japan and her people.
An introduction to the Japanese language
Japanese is the ninth most spoken language in the world with around 125 million speakers globally
While the majority of Japanese speakers are to be found in the archipelago of Japan, significant numbers are to be found throughout the world, especially in Brazil and the United States.
The linguistic history of the Japanese language is an extremely contentious issue amongst academics with no clear answer. In fact, Japanese remains the only major language without any real indication of its origins. The most prominent theories at present are that Japanese is possibly linked to the Korean language or to the Ural-Altaic family of languages, or even both.
Several different dialects are spoken throughout Japan, with the two main divisions falling into Eastern and Western Japanese. Standard Japanese has had a rapid spread throughout Japan due to Government influence, the pervasiveness of television and a mobile populace. However, Standard Japanese has not completely eradicated traditional dialects and in some instances, the expansion of Standard Japanese has created its own dialects such as Okinawan Japanese.
Japanese employs what is considered by many to be one of the most complicated writing systems in current usage. This comprises three separate scripts. Kanji – the adopted Chinese characters that were the basis of early Japanese writing systems in around the 5th Century – previous to this, the Japanese language had no written form. Hiragana and Katakana are both syllabic scripts. Hiragana is used when there is no Kanji for a word and to impose grammar on Kanji. Katakana is used for the numerous foreign loan words present in Japanese known as gairaigo.
A few examples of gairaigo
Aisukuriimu Ice – Cream
Dorama TV Drama
This is just a tiny example of the vast amount of loan words used in modern Japanese. Additionally, alongside the three scripts used in Japanese, Romanized Japanese or rōmaji is also seen. Popular amongst language students struggling with traditional scripts and used by native speakers when typing on computers.
Facts about the Japanese language
- Just 48 sounds make up the Japanese spoken language – consisting of 5 vowels and 11 consonants.
- As in English, words have no gender.
- The Japanese language has many honorifics that are an essential part of communication and etiquette in Japan.
- In Japanese grammar, the verb comes at the end of a sentence. The sentence structure is Subject, Object and then Verb. This can make following a story particularly difficult for non-native speakers.
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