In Japanese, Japanese language says Nihongo (日本語). The Kanji 日 indicates the sun, and 本, here, the origin. The Sino-Japanese term 日本 ( nihon or Japanese ) indicates Japan seen of China (Cipangu), because of the relative geographical position of the two countries: Japan is the country where rises the sun and China that where it lies down. It is from there that comes the expression “country from the rising sun”. The last kanji, 語, mean language .
Japanese belongs to the family of the japonic Langues (like the languages ryukyu). The morphological structure and the Syntaxe strongly resemble those of the language Korean.
Before the writingThe Japanese words are generally called Yamato-kotoba (大和言葉, literally “words (of the country) of Yamato”) in opposition to the Sino-Japanese words ( kango 漢語) and with the loans with the foreign languages ( gairaigo 外来語). According to Jean-Jacques Origas: “Yamato indicates the plains and mounts around the old capital of Nara, and in one second meaning, all the grounds subjected to the imperial authority. The official name of Nihon , of Sino-Japanese origin, is employed only as from the 7th century”. The difference of the majority of the Indo-European languages, the phonology of the Japanese indigenous language survived without much change (except for the vocalic stamp of certain syllables), as one can judge some by comparing for example the indigenous words me, aki, asa, heart, umi, kumo of modern Japanese to the same words of the Manyôshû (8th century).
This vowel system, of nature different from Chinese, is limited to five possibilities: has I U E O , each one of these vowels being in theory short. Two contiguous vowels will be, either successively marked, or will form only one long vowel (in current Japanese). There does not exist nasal vowel.
the old language (time of Manyôshû) presented another series of vowels (noted I , E , ö by the specialists) which disappeared thereafter.
Two semivowels, Y and W , always combined in the order semivowel + vowel:
All these vowels were doubled thereafter of their equivalent in long vowels (transcribed as Romans with a diacritic Macron), mainly for the reading of nonindigenous terms, but of the Sino-Japanese lexicon, like Kyōto .
The consonants, always followed by a vowel (open syllable), are very few.
deaf: K S T P H ;
- sound: G Z R D B ;
- nasal: G NR M .
The consonant NR , of later appearance, constitutes an exception because it appears at the end of a syllable or the end of a mot.
A consonant can be associated with YA YU YO to form the deaf consonants: KYA KYU KYO, SHA SHU SHO, CHA CHU CHO, PYA PYU PYO, HYA HYU HYO , and pareillement for the other consonants.
Graphic systemsTo consult Writings of Japanese for a complete article.
The Japanese language uses two whole of distinct natures jointly:
- the katakana are employed for the writing of words of foreign origin in Japan (e.g.: チーズ: cheese , cheese in English), called gairaigo (外来語, literally “words come from outside”), of onomatopoeias, words which one wants to highlight (as for the italic in the Latin alphabet), and from time to time of names of animals and vegetation (especially in the academism and the restaurants), etc;
- the hiragana were composed starting from the kanjis by progressive simplification of their cursive form (e.g.: 安 → あ), whereas the katakana are them a part extracted from a kanji (e.g.: 多 → タ). The hiragana are used to note the majority of the words and affixes grammatical, the Japanese words (of which the majority can be also written in kanji), and sometimes to read out kanji.
There exist several methods of transcription of Japanese in Latin letters or Rōmaji (ローマ字). The most used abroad revised Méthode Hepburn known as is the modified or (called Hebon-shiki in Japan). However, a certain number of Japanese use the method Kunrei or kunrei-shiki which differs slightly from Hepburn (certain Japanese, in particular those which continued higher learning, use the Hepburn method all the same).
Here the kana (hiragana and katakana) basic with their transcription in the Hepburn system:
Some kana can be modified by the Diacritiques of the Japanese spelling-books, namely the dakuten (゛) and the handakuten (゜). For example:
か ka → が ga ;
- さ its → ざ za ;
- た your → だ da ;
- は ha → ば Ba and ぱ Pa .
To announce for the pronunciation that the syllables written in H indicate an aspired vowel (ha, HI, HU (FU), HE, HO) and that the syllables written in R decide in a way close to a L French a little forced (RA, IH, RU, RE, RO). In this table, the signs (E) and (I) presented do not exist any more in current Japanese.
See also: Pronunciation of Japanese
SpeakersJapanese is spoken by the 127 million inhabitants about the Japan. In certain countries having been colonized by Japan until the end of the Second world war such as Taiwan or the South Korea, there exist still nipponophones. This population remains however very reduced. There also exists with the Brésil a small Japanese community which speaks still Japanese.
In addition, Japanese is usually taught like foreign language in the majority of the countries of Eastern Asia and Oceania. Indeed, Japanese belongs to the small dozen languages the most spoken in the world, at least in time that native tongue.
OriginJapanese was classified a long time in the family of the altaïques Langues with the Mongolian , the Turkish , the toungouze and the Korean , but the existence even of a altaïque family is denied by many specialists. Certain theories make of Japanese a mixed language, mixing elements of the altaïques Langues and Langues austronésiennes. Japanese still is today generally regarded as a linguistic isolate. The Langues ryukyu (traditionally classified as “Japanese dialects”) are the only languages whose relationship with Japanese was proven in an irrefutable way.
History of Japanese
See also: Former Japanese
Grammar, syntax and uses
See also: Japanese Grammar
Japanese grammar is very different from French grammar: just like the Turkish or the Basque, it is a agglutinant Langue.
Japanese is a language called “to final head”: the predicate is placed at the end of the sentence, the object is placed in front of the verb, the adjective is put in front of the substantive, and morphology is mainly suffixante. There is neither Article, neither kind, nor number; the verbs are not combined according to the people (I, you, it…) ; invariable particles indicate the function of the word in the sentence.
See also: Keigo
Japanese courtesy, or in Japanese keigo (敬語), whose approximate translation would be “language polished”, constitutes from a certain point of view a language in the language, and is the direct reflection of the structure and the social interactions.
The use of the courtesy is pre-necessary in the majority of the social situations: contrary to France where a too pushed use of the courtesy can result in appearing obséquieux or hypocritical, to Japan an insufficient use of the courtesy results in appearing incorrect, even insolate.
The systemic one of the Japanese courtesy can appear difficult with the first access, but its basic concepts are relatively easy to integrate. However, the control of the Japanese courtesy on a advanced, subtle and instinctive level, in particular with the writing, is, of the consent of the Japanese themselves, particularly difficult.
To take again the definition of the japanologist Sadaki Hagino, the Japanese courtesy can be defined as “an organized system of words aiming at expressing the recognition of various nuances of difference in height between several people” (敬語は人間のなんらかの意味の上下関係の認識を表現する語彙の体系である).
Whereas in the majority of the Western languages the “courtesy” is expressed only with respect to its interlocutor (choice of the use of the tu or French use of the vous for example), there exists a clear distinction in the Japanese courtesy between:
- the wadai (話題), object of the conversation, i.e. the personne/le social group about which one speaks.
- the dentatsu (伝達), of communication, i.e. the personne/le social group with which one speaks.
In addition, the Japanese courtesy rests on the fundamental distinction between uchi (内, “interior”, i.e. members of his own social group) and soto (外, “outside”, i.e. members of a social group different from its own group).
The Japanese courtesy comprises three relatively independent dimensions concretely: sonkeigo (尊敬語), language of respect; kenjōgo (謙譲語), language of humility; teineigo (丁寧語), language of courtesy. Each one of these three dimensions has a certain number of nuances, in particular of intensity.
One can also note the difference in intensity between the suffixes chan (ちゃん), kun (君), san (さん), sama (様) and dono (殿) to quote only them. These suffixes are added to the names of the people has who one addresses themselves, that it is verbally or orally. These words do not have clean translation and contextuellement are contextuellement translated into French by “M./Mme/Mlle”. The address of a mail always uses the suffix sama (様) at least and the suffix dono (殿) in certain cases (mail coming from a sanctuary, for example). In certain cases, these suffixes are replaced by the title accompanying the profession by the person to whom one addresses. Sensei (先生) for a professor, a researcher, a person to which we wish to transmit a feeling of recognition or that one regards as superior in a field.
The function of these dimensions is explained easily by means of the distinctions exposed higher:
- the sonkeigo is used to mark the respect which had by the speaker with the personne/au social group about which he speaks. This person/her social group can not be other than the interlocutor/her group, but can just as easily be a personne/un group nonpresent.
the kenjōgo is used to express the relation height between two entities (social people or groups) constituting the subject for conversation. As opposed to what the name could make believe, the kenjōgo solely is thus not used to speak with humility about soi/de its group: it is the case only when which there is constituting identity between the personne/le social group the “lower” part of the relation height mentioned in the subject for conversation and the speaker or his group.
the teineigo is used to express in a direct way of the courtesy on its interlocutor, and this whatever the subject for conversation. Let us note the subtle difference between courtesy and respect: there or the respect expresses a difference in height between two entities, the courtesy expresses, it, an absence of familiarity between these two entities. Whereas the expression of respect implies the expression of courtesy in general, the reverse is not true: it is completely possible to courteously speak with somebody without him to express respect (the typical case is that of two colleagues of the same of the same company hierarchical level and not being in familiar terms).
Thus, the means which offer the Japanese courtesy allow (and often the social situation imposes) for example:
- of speaking familiarly with somebody about someone else with respect;
- of speaking courteously with somebody about somebody without respect;
- to express courtesy with its interlocutor without him to express respect (see higher); generally
- to express respect with its interlocutor (what implies to express courtesy to him, and to express modesty towards oneself);
- to express (by means of the language of respect and the language of modesty) with its interlocutor the relation between two external people, which can be done while speaking familiarly or courteously with its interlocutor;
DialectsAs for the majority of the national languages, there exists many Dialecte S Japanese which are characterized by phonology, the vocabulary and grammar. “Dialect” says “hōgen” in Japanese (方言), and in the current language to indicate a dialect one joins the suffix “Ben” (弁) in the name of the locality where he is spoken. The studies of dialectology do not use however this suffix.
- Nara-Ben - Yamatokotoba
To learn Japanese
Many universities throughout the world and a certain number of colleges and to a lesser extent of colleges and elementary schools offer Japanese courses. The interest from abroad for the training of Japanese dates from the beginning of XIXe century but became more important with the economic growth of Japan of the Eighties and the general interest carried to the Japanese culture (Anime and video games in particular) since the Nineties. Among the 2,3 million people learning Japanese with the college or the university in 2003,900 000 were South-Koreans, 389.000 were Chinese, 381.000 Australian and 141.000 were American. In 2003, more than 90.000 people studied in a university or a school of language in Japan, among which 77.000 Chinese and 15.000 South-Koreans.
The Japanese government organizes examinations standardized to measure the level of Japanese comprehension written and spoken about the people the practitioner as a second language. Most important of them is the Aptitude test in Japanese (JLPT).
writings of Japanese
- Japanese Vocabulary
- Pronunciation of Japanese
- Japanese Grammar
- Japanese honorary
- Japanese slang
- abbreviation in Japanese
- Sex of the Japanese speaker spoken
- Linguistic Franponais
Dictionary of the languages
- Languages by family
- Swadesh List of Japanese
- Japanese Phrasebook
Beats-smg: Japuonu kalba Nds-nl: Japans Simple: Japanese language Zh-classical: 日本語 Zh-min-nan: Ji̍t-pún-oē Zh-yue: 日語
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