Japanese Information

Japanese is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family. There are a number of proposed relationships with other languages, but none of them has gained unanimous acceptance. Japanese is an agglutinative language. It is distinguished by a complex system of honorifics reflecting the nature of Japanese society, with verb forms and particular vocabulary to indicate the relative status of the speaker, the listener, and persons mentioned in conversation. The language has a relatively small sound inventory, and a lexically significant pitch-accent system. Japanese is a mora-timed language.

The Japanese language is written with a combination of three scripts: Chinese characters called kanji , and two syllabic scripts made up of modified Chinese characters, hiragana and katakana . The Latin alphabet, rōmaji , is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for company names and logos, advertising, and when entering Japanese text into a computer. Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Sino-Japanese numerals are also commonplace .

Japanese vocabulary has been heavily influenced by loanwords from other languages. A vast number of words were borrowed from Chinese, or created from Chinese models, over a period of at least 1,500 years. Since the late 19th century, Japanese has borrowed a considerable number of words from Indo-European languages, primarily English. Because of the special trade relationship between Japan and first Portugal in the 16th century, and then mainly the Netherlands in the 17th century, Portuguese and Dutch have also been influential.

Wikipedia, Japanese, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_language (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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