Alternative name(s): Japans (nl), japanska (sv)
Language family: Isolated language
Geographical use: Japan, Hawaii, Paraguay, Peru, Brasil and in Taiwan
Information: As far as we know, Japanese
is not related to any other language. Structurally there are some similarities
with Korean and altaic
languages such as Mongolian and Turkish.
As far as vocabulary is concerned, there are similarities with East Asian
language families like the sino-tibetan
and the austro-asian families.
Japanese is a very vague an inaccurate language. It seems as if the Japanese don't like to express themselves clearly. This is especially the case for visual expressions. The Japanese word aoi for instance, can mean either blue, green or pale. On the other side Japanese is very meticulous with onomatopoeic (sound imitation) expressions. Japanese knows a great many deal of expressions to indicate that it rains.
Originally Japanese had a very limited vocabulary. From the 3rd century a great number of Chinese words were borrowed. The number of originally Chinese words is now greater than the number of originally Japanese words. These Chinese words are for Japanese what Greek and Latin words are for Dutch or English. Originally these Chinese words were pronounced as in Chinese, but this was drastically changed later on.
Japanese has 5 vowels and 19 consonants. There is no real stress, although some syllables do get a specific tone.
The usual word order in Japanese is subject-object-verb. The verb is not conjugated (not in person, nor time) as in the Indo-European languages. The nouns have no gender, and there is no difference between singular and plural. Japanese does not have articles nor prepositions. It does have suffices that function as prepositions (eg. mizu no oto: sound of water; literally it says: water of sound). Japanese has a lot of pronouns, but these are seldom used. The adjectival pronouns are used and often function as verbs. They denote that a specific action still needs to happen, is happening, or has happened.
Something very specific for Japanese are the polite, respectable and humble pre- and suffices. These are used to denote the status of who is speaking and whom is spoken to. Only Korean and Javan have this kind of words.
There are a lot of dialectic variations on Japanese, but only the pronunciation of the educated class in Tokyo is considered to be the standard.